Data management: Don’t jump the gun

Despite CFOs making big strides to own the data management process, there is no silver bullet when it comes to managing technology – and being too hasty can cost you.

CFOs should be considering data management as an always-evolving process, said panelists at Private Equity International’s CFOs & COO Forum in New York last week.

During the panel, entitled “Re-examining data management strategy and implementation,” private equity professionals recommended that firms don’t commit to implementing a strategy until they have a clear understanding of their various departments’ specific tech needs.

“There is no silver bullet,” said one panelist. “You need to know exactly what you need, and then approach tech providers.” One of the panelists, a private equity CFO, said he ran into serious problems by taking on a technology provider too soon, and needed to take a step back to assess what the firm truly needed.

One CFO mentioned his firm went on to form a committee tasked with assessing the individual needs of each of the firm’s departments, and identifying who should be responsible for handling the transition to new systems. “There needs to be a bigger focus on strategy instead of just quick, efficient implementation,” a panelist remarked.

Panelists agreed that implementing and monitoring a data management strategy should not end with the CFO — a good strategy relies on the input and oversight of managers on the ground in the business.

Technology continues to be on the minds of CFOs as they push to automate many of their back-office functions. But a clear understanding of what the firm truly needs is essential for a smooth transition. Additionally, the panelists agreed that there is a huge advantage to being a younger and smaller firm today, as big firms have much more data to clean before they transition in a meaningful way.