Whilst a well-designed software solution has the potential to drive improvements, there are a number of surrounding factors that must be actioned in parallel to ensure a positive outcome. Many firms assume that once an implementation project is complete, the development of the system is finished. However, business requirements are continually evolving and any new system needs to develop at a similar pace to avoid it becoming out of date. Without investment in maintenance, there’s a danger you might need a complete revamp and relaunch of the entire system, which erodes the business’s trust in the solution.
The emergence of platform management
In 2022, it’s clear that the Private Capital systems landscape is bigger and better than ever. As the number of Private Capital software vendors has increased, fund managers have greater choice, and many have decided to move away from implementing end-to-end solutions and embraced a ‘best of breed’ approach. This means that the majority of Private Capital firms now have multiple business systems in place, ranging from CRM and portfolio monitoring technologies, to fund accounting, administration and ERP software.
As the technology landscape evolves, we’ve also seen tremendous strides in innovation. Where firms used to be highly dependent on either the software vendor or their IT department to make changes, operational systems are now business-led, and the capability to configure them sits within the business.
This shift has surfaced the need for a new role of Platform Manager (formerly known as a ‘super-user’) who will own the system, taking accountability for ensuring the system evolves at the same pace as business needs. Firms with multiple operational systems typically need a dedicated Platform Manager for each one; in the case of systems used by multiple teams (e.g. CRM systems covering both IR & Investment teams), it is not uncommon to have a platform manager within each team.
Best practice for platform management
The responsibilities of the platform manager ideally include:
- Making system changes: Understand the needs of the business, able to execute updates and changes to system functionality, reports or dashboards and surrounding business processes in a timely manner
- Change control: Central hub for all change requests, assessing downstream impact and making recommendations to ensure changes don’t negatively affect usability
- Helpdesk: Responsive to queries, available to answer questions, offer a high level of support to users and provide additional training where needed. Responsible for ensuring high rates of user adoption.
- Vendor management: Key point of contact for the system vendor, will follow up to resolve system issues or bugs, coordinating their resolution with the vendor’s support team
- Supporting data governance: Works alongside the assigned data owners, creating data exception dashboards and other processes to support the management of data quality
- Staying up to date with new functionality: Maintain excellent SME of the system and recommended best practice, including advising on new features and functionality to maximise benefits for users and the business.
Who should the platform manager be?
For most firms, the platform manager role is not a full-time position. More commonly, we find that firms need a part-time business owner for each system that requires this support, which is unlikely to be covered by one individual’s skillset. This can create some challenges when firms look to hire from an external talent pool.
Some firms will be able to identify an existing team member to pick up this role for each system. Ideally, this person will have been involved in the implementation project, so they understand how the system has been configured and the background on why certain decisions have been made. Where platform management responsibilities are carried out alongside a person’s regular work, it’s important to consider how to allocate the right amount of time to each set of priorities, especially during busy periods.
Many firms now use third party support to pick up the bulk of this ongoing system maintenance effort. This can be especially helpful for businesses that don’t have the capacity for this role on their current teams, or in cases where a key person has left with no obvious successor. Holland Mountain offers an outsourced Platform Management service for Private Capital firms – get in touch to find out more.
Jeremy is a leading expert in Private Capital operations, technology and data. He has 20 years’ experience advising GPs and LPs on operational strategy & best practice, alongside delivering successful change management engagements. He has a wealth of experience working with all the major industry software vendors & service providers, and a detailed understanding of the capabilities & limitations of available solutions.