As the digital age continues to advance, bringing with it a new generation of technologically-savvy successors and ‘switched on’ stakeholders with activist mindsets, family offices are increasingly seeking new software solutions to help them keep up with the growing demands of their businesses. If this sounds familiar, you’ll know that selecting the right software for family office management can feel like a daunting task. It might also feel increasingly intimidating as operational requirements increase, as well as matters surrounding data security, transparency, user accessibility and permissions. Then there’s the issue as to whether or not you’ll end up with a system that encourages productivity and collaboration within the organisation, instead of obstructing it. There’s a lot to consider and it can be overwhelming, especially when you know that choosing the right software upfront is not only necessary to ensure productivity continues, but that it prevents unwanted surprises and switching costs in the future. To help you navigate this process, here are a few steps to take before carefully selecting the software for your family office:
Step 1: Identify which processes could be streamlined by family office software
With the right software, functions that traditionally involve manual inputs and administrative tasks like document management, schedule planning, task assignment and monitoring can be easily streamlined. Organisational optimisation that includes automated reminders and follow-ups, do away with spending time managing large amounts of administration and e-mails. Be it organising meetings, consolidating reports, monitoring strategy, managing performance, controlling violations, or managing non-bankable assets, modern software is better equipped to handle these tasks. This means time previously spent on organisational and administrative tasks and reporting can be freed up and put to use on strategic planning and other productive tasks that are in line with key performance objectives.
Step 2: Identify any roadblocks within existing workflows
Some organisational procedures and workflows require multi-party collaboration, handling, or sign-off – such as signing documents, compliance and storage. As family members and colleagues begin to disperse more across the world, be it for travel, to move abroad or work remotely, this process becomes more complex. The correct software can manage this securely, as it allows you to request individual or group collaboration on projects as well as completing or signing-off on documents virtually, all while ensuring the highest level of data security.
Step 3: Define areas of involvement and communication channels
When choosing family office software, it’s essential to identify how your business works, who is responsible for what and to what extent they need to be involved. By using a central database, permissions and roles can be assigned to each member of the business. This means owners, staff, advisors and stakeholders can easily communicate and share confidential information and documents, confident that governance structures are maintained. Clear, regular communication and updates within the family are vital to ensure everyone is appropriately included and aware of what is going on. Internal communication strategy specifically, has an important role to play in adequately engaging with the next generation. Software can help in presenting information in an engaging manner, one that meets the next-generation’s communication requirements, but also helps to streamline communication effectively and timeously.
Step 4: Quantify what your data is worth and secure it accordingly
First, identify the data you are generating and then weigh up how valuable it is to your office – and perhaps even more crucial, what it would be worth to an outside party. Then take note of how your data is currently stored as well as the level of security and backup it is given. Traditionally, many family offices hosted their data in-house and this has the potential to open an office up to a number of severe situations. Data could be destroyed or its security compromised due to unexpected events such as fires or floods and data breaches, either by unhappy staff members or hackers. This is why hosted, cloud-based solutions have become the favoured method of data storage. Partly because it increases cybersecurity, but because it also lowers costs. When you compare software for your family office, look at where your data will be hosted and what the level of security will be. Opt for software that offers private hosting at compliant data centres, along with complete end-to-end data encryption.
Once you’ve taken all of the points above into consideration, and have defined what the software needs to do and for whom, the process of choosing the right family office software becomes much less complicated. In fact, the possibilities of what’s available are endless and are only getting more exciting.