Upfront Work Prior to Technology Changes: Your Guide to a Successful & Efficient Implementation
“Hey Alexa… Implement Eze Investor Accounting so I can be better.”
Sounds cool!! With one simple step, you add a feature to your device that implements and executes all investor accounting functions. Given today’s technological advancements, one can imagine where a simple voice command may someday be possible.
However, in this utopian world, what are the chances your net asset values will be correct? With this kind of simplicity comes an upfront cost that’s not just a technology investment. Accomplishing a successful and efficient implementation requires clear knowledge of systems and processes and (re)educating teams on these processes, so there is no inaccuracy or lost efficiency. With any technology implementation, these efforts are the beginning of an overall process improvement and never simply about moving to a new technology to get rid of your legacy environment. Even if it’s the easier route.
“Hey Alexa… Please Take Detailed Notes.” (Defining Business Needs)
If you need your system to better calculate fees or allocations to investors, start with documenting how those results are arrived at. Go beyond scrolling through spreadsheets and diving into cell formulas, which is generally a waste of time and likely provides only a partial picture.
Breaking your systems down into the key components is critical to implementing successfully and efficiently: How do I determine my profit & loss allocation basis? How do I know if I cross into a new fee tier? When do I charge my incentive fees? With no “guesswork” involved, users should expect to achieve a quicker implementation and “go live.”
“Thanks, Alexa. I didn’t know that.” (Identifying Inefficiencies and Overcoming Key Person Risks)
Living the spreadsheet lifestyle gives you a lot of flexibility, but it’s at the cost of inefficiency and risk. You’re relying on a user-defined technology as there is no change control. More often than not, changes are made to formulas, links, or spreadsheet macros addressing one specific circumstance or unique scenario with no notes or historical documentation of the change and why it happened.
When you’re stuck in the day-to-day tunnel vision, you may not recognize inefficiencies like copying and pasting or rechecking manual inputs, and you can overlook the risks of relying on a single person to understand the process. When you take the time to step back from the day-to-day to clearly document all processes and inputs, you gain the clarity to expose problem areas.
With the “new normal” of the COVID-19 work environment, that “key person” risk is only magnified. You need to be able to handoff processes seamlessly without any question as to what to do, how to access information, and where to deliver the files and reports. When you’ve outlined your process and prioritized your needs, you can determine where it’s most important to leverage technology to reduce risks and gain efficiencies, both on day one and over the longer term.
“Hey Alexa… Why does everything take so long?” (Building a Better, More Efficient Process)
The combination of dealing with complex calculations and expanding the scope of what needs to be delivered to clients makes it difficult to meet reporting deadlines even in the best of times. Managing deliverables in an environment that is very manual takes more time to navigate a cumbersome reconciliation and validation process.
It’s these scenarios where technology can prove to immediately benefit your processes and deadlines, but only if you have a clear understanding of what your process is to begin with. A platform like Eze Investor Accounting (EIA) can quickly allow you, as a user, to manage exceptions, leverage audit structures to pinpoint the source of the difference, and shrink the time-consuming review process.
Regardless of the end goal, if you do the upfront work to outline the key items and processes, it allows technologies like Eze Investor Accounting to be implemented in the most effective and efficient way allowing you to focus on truly unique scenarios that require more attention. We only need to look at the recent feature update to our new issue P&L allocations and our upcoming dynamic management fee basis as examples of using EIA to focus on the results, rather than processing and inputs. Simply installing a new or cool technology won’t improve your situation in the absence of process documentation and, in our experience, lengthens the go live timeline. Without the proper documentation and preparation, Alexa might end up responding, “Hmm…I don’t know that.”
Michael Murphy, Director, Product Management, oversees the strategic direction and product delivery of SS&C Eze's configurable and easy-to-use investor accounting and reporting platform, Eze Investor Accounting (EIA).
He has more than 25 years of experience with extensive expertise in alternative fund, back-office operations. Prior to joining SS&C Eze, he was a managing consultant with Beacon Consulting Group (now Accenture) and held numerous leadership roles supporting asset servicing at Brown Brothers Harriman.