Next Steps: When a CRM Doesn’t Work for Fund Management

Here’s a scenario we often encounter: A fund manager spearheads an initiative to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) system as the tool they’ll use to manage their fundraising or investing. 

They heard—from their peers or the CRM software company rep—that this system “does everything!” They get promises that it will solve all of their problems as soon as they get it up and running, and can’t wait for that to happen.

Fast forward to six months after implementation: The system sits idle, or at best, is used in only the most rudimentary way. Users are frustrated, but the fund manager and the firm vow to truly focus on making the CRM a valuable tool soon. So, management renews the software contract for another month or two.

“Maybe we can have an intern take a stab at getting to know the system and teaching us how to use it effectively,” someone says. But, of course, that doesn’t happen. And, ultimately, the firm starts thinking about getting rid of the CRM altogether and going back to using spreadsheets as a poor alternative to fund management software.

Fund Management Software: Designed for Tasks a CRM Can’t Handle

The scenario above isn’t the CRM’s “fault”—or the fund manager’s fault, for that matter. Most CRM systems are highly customizable, so when someone at a firm hears that a particular one “does everything,” itt’s not too hard to believe. But, even so, the firm is now back to managing its stakeholder data in an inefficient, ad hoc way.  

Our recommendation to firms that reach this point violates the business truism that you shouldn’t “throw good money after bad.” But, if that capital is going to deliver a positive outcome, then it’s money well spent, and firms can be forgiven for breaking that rule!

The reason that a CRM investment doesn’t work out is, in nearly all cases, because 1) the decision to purchase it was made hastily, and 2) CRMs lack functionality firms need. When organizations fail to think carefully about their requirements and how a system will meet them, bad things tend to happen. 

Important Questions to Ask Yourself 

If you’re looking for true fund management software—particularly after a CRM implementation that didn’t work out—it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions; 

  • Why do we need fund management software?
  • What issues will the right solution solve for us?
  • What features and functions will our users need?
  • How can we ensure that everyone who uses the system has a chance to provide input on how it’s configured?


Just by answering these questions before starting your search, you’re in a far better position than you were when you purchased your CRM and quickly brought it online. When everyone involved in the buying and launching of an advanced software solution is on the same page and working toward the same goal, you greatly increase the odds that the new system will provide the benefits you’re hoping for.

Other Keys to a Successful Software Implementation

It’s also important to get buy-in from executive sponsors who know what you want to do and why. And the second half of that sentence is important. It’s critical that your sponsor(s) understand your goals and how your new system will help you meet them, rather than just blindly approving your purchase request.

And, finally, you should have a plan in place for ensuring firm-wide adoption of your new fund management software. If you didn’t have a strategy when you implemented your CRM, that could be part of the reason you’ve now abandoned it. “Change management” is an essential element of any type of software implementation.

Moving beyond a CRM-only approach to fundraising and investing, and implementing purpose-built fund management software, is crucial if you want to be successful in today’s competitive business environment.