In the world of Private Equity (“PE”), document management is critical because it ensures that the legal parameters for deal documents are followed and guarantees that the details related to specific investments are captured. These documents can be very complicated, often requiring many rounds of review and there are many comments and changes to these agreements before the ultimate terms are finalized. Efficient document management is challenging and often leads to technological and operational issues for our Private Equity clients. The sensitive nature of these documents means that members of deal teams have several security-related priorities in mind when it comes to managing these classified documents. Those priorities include:
|Virtual Access to Files||Accessing the latest version of a file through a secure system and syncing updates back to all users in real-time for seamless collaboration|
|Access Control Options||Reporting, monitoring and modifying the viewing rights of authorized users.|
|Information Rights Management||Limiting the ability to print, forward via email, or copy documents based on the specific security rights of a particular user or a pre-defined group of users who are accessing the document.|
|Time Based Restrictions||Functionality such as removing a user’s access to a document once a deal has concluded, or providing a guest user access to a document that expires in a specified amount of time (e.g. one week’s time).|
In addition to deal teams, many other groups within PE firms can also benefit from the features of a document management system. These systems have proven to provide user friendly and feature rich platforms to support regulatory or business driven requirements. The table below offers some key examples in the alternative asset management industry:
|Investor Relations||When working with administrators on items such as investor letters, iterative updates result in numerous versions of drafts.
Investor Relations could be better equipped to track and manage the various changes to these letters with the help of a more effective document management system that handles version control in an automated fashion.
|Compliance||Typically, after a deal is closed, all sensitive deal documents are required to be archived in a library with read-only access for a specified period.
In the past, PE firms maintained physical file rooms for this purpose. Now with the convenience of cloud storage, the creation of virtual file rooms has replaced traditional storage methods.
|Deal Teams||The process of using Intralinks to create a deal room for documents during a deal phase to share with respective external parties can be significantly simplified.
A cloud-based solution makes it easier to share information with outside stakeholders by granting specific access to folders in a repository without creating duplicate copies of documents that can become out of sync.
In addition, the document management systems improves the audit trail by providing full visibility to the access and version history of each document.
|Legal||The inherent functionality of document management systems including SharePoint Online that supports e-discovery ensures your legal team is compliant with retention policies and any requirements related to possible litigation in the future.
In addition, version control ensures that as your legal team iterates through versions of documents they can maintain all document history and easily compare different versions or revert to an older version if needed.
|IT||IT departments often bear the responsibility of administering access and security rights within an organization. As such, they must ensure that groups of users in one business area obtain access that is separate from those in another function, whether it be the Deal Team, Legal & Compliance, Outside Directors, Administrative Assistants, Finance & Accounting, and so on.
The features in today’s document management systems have made the creation and maintenance of these individual and group rights far easier and integrated directly with the core security of your whole IT infrastructure.
|Finance||The Finance departments must interface with all groups within private investment firms. When the financials are finalized, this typically allows the marketing, PR and portfolio managers to proceed with various tasks in their respective groups. If numbers change this can have a cascading impact which can lead to data integrity issues and critical errors.
Document management systems allow Finance to centralize documents and shares their calculations centrally in respective work papers with all other groups, this can eliminate re-work or embarrassing and costly mistakes.
SharePoint Online from Microsoft
Thankfully, Microsoft has provided the ideal platform with SharePoint Online to address all of these needs and more. Deal teams and their related parties can stay connected whether working on the road, from home, or at the office.
For Private Equity users, the streamlined document management process facilitates collaboration between cross-functional groups, as well as members working in different geographic locations. SharePoint Online can also be accessed through a set of convenient mobile applications, meaning that critical files are never further than one’s smartphone or tablet.
Since SharePoint Online is a cloud-based product included in the Office 365 suite, it is closely integrated with other Microsoft Office applications, allowing users to manage documents and collaborate seamlessly while sharing and protecting sensitive information. The integration of SharePoint Online with other Microsoft Office applications—such as Teams, Excel, Outlook, and the rest of the Office suite of product results in a consistent user experience that simplifies how people interact with content, processes and business data.
People who have not used Microsoft SharePoint recently may not be familiar with how Microsoft has transformed the platform into an Enterprise-level Document Management system. SharePoint now has features and functionality that rival or surpass any Document Management system available in the marketplace. The fact that SharePoint Online is fully integrated with Active Directory and Azure means that your IT staff does not have to do a lot of additional work to fully integrate robust security into your Document Management System setup which has a huge advantage in terms of time to go live on the platform.
The SharePoint Online platform features many key benefits for users and introduces new functionalities with each release. All organizations strive to increase productivity, and having a tool like SharePoint in place can make all the difference. The features and functionalities offered through this tool directly achieve these efficiencies and help reduce costs. In fact, a 2016 study of ECM (Enterprise Content Management) applications by Nucleus Research found that investing in a system such as SharePoint Online, generates an average return of 750%. Below are some of the key benefits and their direct application to the Private Equity world.
|Feature||Functionality||Application in Private Equity|
Mobile Device Management (MDM)
Effective document management is critical to Private Equity firms who have a constant stream of time-sensitive deals in their pipeline.
SharePoint Online is an invaluable aid to these firms because it supports necessary functionality with out-of-the-box features such as: collaboration, security, accessibility, and integration with other Office applications. Implementing a Document Management solution is not a simple project and many companies fail in this effort because they are not familiar with the most critical components. An experienced systems integrator like FinServ Consulting will be able to navigate through these challenges and ensure the project is managed successfully.
FinServ understands the Private Equity and alternative asset management industry and from this unique expertise we know how to integrate the most critical industry-related features and functionality of SharePoint Online. SharePoint’s benefits are not limited to the deal team, rather the whole firm can experience increased efficiencies and additional benefits from this impressive platform.
To learn more about FinServ Consulting’s Enterprise Content Management and Document Management expertise, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (646) 603-3799.
About FinServ Consulting
FinServ Consulting is an independent experienced provider of business consulting, systems development, and integration services to alternative asset managers, global banks and their service providers. Founded in 2005, FinServ delivers customized world-class business and IT consulting services for the front, middle and back office, providing managers with optimal and first-class operating environments to support all investment styles and future asset growth. The FinServ team brings a wealth of experience from working with the largest and most complex asset management firms and global banks in the world.