Russell Leupold is the Director of Project Management at The Riverside Company. A project management Professional certified by the Project Management Institute, he leads projects at Riverside that encompasses teams, regions, and technologies across the global organization. Mr. Leupold’s expertise in driving efficiency through strategic development and technology initiatives has established Riverside as a leader in the private equity industry, and has also led to the firm being honored as a finalist for Best Data Management Initiative in the 11th annual American Financial Technology Awards. Russell’s project management has optimized how functional groups such as Global Origination, Investor Relations, Accounting, Human Resources, and other key teams operate within the enterprise.
The Riverside Company is a private equity firm with an international portfolio of over 80 growing businesses, and has been deeply involved with Dynamo™ since first adopting the CRM in 2008. As a member of the Riverside Project Management team since 2004, I have enjoyed watching the relationship evolve to become an industry-recognized standard for exceptional data management. Riverside uses Dynamo™ in every office across North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific. The platform is ideal for deal management and investor relations initiatives, and also leveraged for managing strategic fund initiatives.
While Dynamo™ is a mainstay across our operations, we’ve also adopted and implemented a number of other solutions. In consideration of our continued investments in technology as a firm, I presented at Dynamo Software’s user conference on “Owning Your Implementation,” and I hope that this insight can benefit both Dynamo™ and non-Dynamo™ users.
Getting Your Application off the Ground
Preparation is half the battle, if not more, when undertaking a complex software implementation. Be sure to quickly assemble the team that will be involved in the implementation and/or use the product. Clearly define responsibilities for team members to ensure accurate communication and prevent errors during the implementation process.
The first step toward owning your implementation is to determine your needs and precisely define and document them when having initial meetings with your implementation specialist. Think about your implementation in a highly granular fashion, and prioritize your desired functions. How would you like your data presented? How do you want your data leveraged? How will each member of your team play use the application?
Preparation can greatly lose its effect if you do not secure buy-in and engage the firm. Adopting a software platform is a wasted purchase if the desired users abandon it and return to older, known methods. You need to assume the role of a product evangelist, and advocate the tangible benefits of the platform. Hands-on demonstrations of relationship management, reporting, and data management are valuable tools for encouraging adoption.
Defining a Project Charter is imperative to ensure accountability for implementation success. After establishing the Project Charter following an initial kick-off meeting, your firm should assume responsibility for your data. Consolidating and structuring data from a variety of platforms is an integral step for an efficient configuration and import. Actively communicate with your implementation specialist to ensure that your data cleanup and presentation aligns with their methodology. Once the data is structured, QA your data multiple times — this cannot be overemphasized. Fixing data is significantly harder after it is imported, so take all possible steps to ensure the data is clean and accurate.
Life in Production
The relationship with your product team does not end when the platform is formally deployed and transitioned to the support team. In fact, collaboration becomes more critical if the firm is to optimize its return on investment in the software. To ensure success, the firm must give the application’s support and account management teams the time and resources they need.
Your firm has multiple responsibilities outside of direct communications with the application support team. Buy-in is finite, and needs to be continually refreshed. Devise strategies to keep employees engaged with the software through regular training, incentivizing use, or brainstorming new uses for your product. Applications that do not continue to grow with your operations are destined to fail.
Regular internal auditing is essential when using an investment management platform to maintain data security and data accuracy. Routinely review security and permissions for all of your users to reduce the possibility of manual error or the accidental exposure of sensitive data. Audit your data so that your team has the correct context for investment decisions and fundraising strategies. When personnel changes occur ensure your data stays within the organization, and new employees have access to the relevant historical records.
Develop a Strategic Roadmap
Firms adopting any product to grow alongside its evolving needs should take advantage of the product’s educational resources and develop an efficient long-term technology strategy.
Regularly check with your account management team and use online resources to learn about upcoming feature releases. Industry-specific product features tend to be developed through continuous partnership with clients, so there is a significant likelihood that new feature sets will apply to your needs. Finally, attend events for clients that provide face time with company leadership and client service staff.
I hope that this article was helpful for prospective Dynamo clients. To learn more about Riverside’s specific experience, download the Riverside case study here.