Evaluating Industry-Specific Research Management Software vs. Generic Systems

Evaluating Industry-Specific Research Management Software vs. Generic Systems
Matthew Keller

Research management software (RMS) offers significant benefits for investment firms. These platforms can optimize productivity, provide valuable context for key investment decisions, and highlight new business development opportunities. The consumer decision process when selecting research management software includes evaluating the viability of both generic and industry-specific products. The below guide is designed to help firms determine the ideal fit for their needs using three core criteria.

Improve Efficiency

Alternative asset firms need to consolidate diverse data sets, including findings from fund manager meetings and industry analyst reports. Consequently, tagging each piece of content with all relevant metadata is critical. Whereas generic systems may offer flat “keyword tagging” of content, RMS goes deeper by enabling the user to be guided by pre-configured templates tailored for their firm’s individual workflow. This feature set ensures that data is captured more comprehensively, and also with much greater consistency. Additionally, RMS simplifies saving interfaces, and input fields are optimized specifically for the content financial professionals deposit most often. RMS providers also seek to eliminate manual effort altogether by integrating with third parties that offer valuable data for investment managers. Ultimately, content stored in an organized manner upon submission can also be more efficiently retrieved through industry-specific research management software.

Increase Collaboration

Centralizing a firm’s research information onto a single shared software platform offers a valuable opportunity to increase collaboration. Unlike generic alternatives, industry-specific research management software has recognized that for investment collaboration to be truly effective, functionality must be well structured, fully transparent, and easily analyzed in aggregate. Desired features include applying rule-based workflows to better manage due diligence tasks across the team, leveraging an automatically organized history of each user’s contributions on a given topic for tighter coordination, and monitoring the status of all investments firm-wide to identify the investments that deserve further attention.

Attain Greater Insight

Generic systems often tout robust reporting packages which allow users to diversify the presentation of their data. RMS providers differentiate themselves by leveraging their industry knowledge to present data in a manner intuitive to alternative investment firms. Examples include comprehensive prospective investment pipelines showing where each stands in the research process, interactive compliance dashboards highlighting any firms which have overdue deliverables, and intuitive tear sheets with a synopsis of information on a particular investment. The insights derived from these views are unique to RMS providers due to their industry-specific focus.

The state of RMS today reflects the deep collaboration that has taken place between providers and investment managers. Specifically configured to the needs of investment managers, the resulting functionality has helped them become more efficient, effective, and successful. Generic systems claim to offer the promise of equivalent quality. However, their costs are far greater in terms of extensive system customization effort, lack of user adoption, and missed opportunities to attain the firm’s original goals for research management.