Excel: Contact Management from the Dark Ages

Excel: Contact Management from the Dark Ages
Anna Yegorova

Let’s flash back to the dark ages. Not to when people traveled via horses instead of Uber, but to right before our daily lives involved smartphones or even flip phones. We jotted our friends’ names and phone numbers down in a little book that we pulled out when it was time for a phone call.

Remember all the little inefficiencies? The time wasted flipping through to a name and dialing the handwritten number. The frustration of hitting one wrong key and having to start over. When the book was all filled up and you needed another one. When sharing a phone number wasn’t as simple as hitting “share” on your smartphone. When there was no digital record of your conversations. What happens to your relations if you misplace the book? Managing our contacts in these dark ages was tedious and unproductive.phonebook_blog

Today, Excel is that default primitive phone book. The inefficiencies are almost identical: wasted time, manual error, insufficient space, lack of transparency into errors, and defective sharing. Excel is a tool for crunching simple numbers, not a solution for your fundraising and investor relations needs.

Excel stores your contacts but does not empower you to nurture relationships with these contacts. It does not automatically track who on your team has recently reached out to a specific contact and what they discussed. While this information can be entered in a separate sheet with a reference or a table titled “Comments” manually logging communications takes time and cannot be updated by multiple team members at one time.

Excel welcomes manual error. A typo in a key potential investor’s contact entry hurts your fundraising efforts and threatens your ability to hit goals. Excel errors do not signify incompetence or carelessness among your team, as they are practically unavoidable in any industry. As an example, in 2010 two Harvard economists published a prominent research paper which went on to be extensively referenced for budget-cutting purposes in government. It was later uncovered that there had been a minor Excel error in these researchers’ spreadsheet. The scandal was picked up by the media and their credibility was questioned. Though a minor error in your Excel contact database may not warrant a national scandal, it could certainly hurt your firm.

not enough space_blogExcel does not adapt to changing needs. As you grow, so will the volume of investors and prospects that you need to track. A colossal spreadsheet is not a solution to managing a large number of contacts. You cannot keep track of which relationship needs immediate attention and contacts’ needs are bound to fall through the cracks.

Excel hinders collaboration. Team members need the information relevant to their responsibilities as soon as it is updated. Working on an Excel spreadsheet, saving it, then sending it off to team members’ inboxes slows down the day. This becomes even more inefficient when multiple colleagues need to work on the same spreadsheet. Additionally, how will you know who updated what in the spreadsheet?

An industry-specific relationship management platform enables superior dialogue with investors, eliminates human error by automating manual work, and scales to your needs as you grow. Furthermore fund managers gain visibility into all investor communications, activities, and transactions. Productivity is further expedited by easy collaboration among teams, with relevant parties accessing the most up to date information in real time. Your first smartphone made your day faster and more efficient. Imagine what an investor relationship management software platform could enable you to accomplish.