Investment Recovery Software
Investment recovery professionals are increasingly being asked to do more with the resources they currently have. They face a daunting task. Even in large corporations, there may only be a handful of investment recovery professionals. These professionals must oversee the identification, redeployment, and divestment of idle assets across many asset types, geographic areas, and company operations. Some investment recovery professionals handle these challenges by outsourcing parts of the process to third party asset recovery companies. This often makes sense when personnel are stretched for time and resources. However in this article we wish to take a look at putting repeatable, best practice processes in place using automation.
Prior to obtaining software or automation, there are a few things that an investment recovery department should do to lay the ground work for a good solution selection and implementation decision. The most important tasks that need to be done prior to selecting a solution include developing business flows, developing requirements, and preparing a budget. These three things are outlined in the sections below.
Develop Business Flows
The first step to effective management of investment recovery is to define the key processes and understand what these processes entail. A helpful way to do this is to create a business process flow diagram or to map the steps involved in these processes. Many managers have a difficult time managing investment recovery because they do not have clearly defined processes, and consequently, can not improve them because the processes themselves lack definition and can't be measured. Once the processes have been defined and outlined, it will be easier to evaluate and measure which parts of the process are going well and which parts need improvement.
After a department has developed business flows and outlined its processes, it is ready to specify the requirements for a system. When developing requirements, take into account current processes and internal constraints (IT, security, department charter, etc). It is also important to be aware that there may be better ways of doing things and a department may wish to change its current processes. The ideal investment recovery solution will be one that prepares a department for change and growth in scope and responsibilities. This should be reflected in the requirements. In addition, the requirements should list functionality that is essential along with functionality that is not essential, but would be good to have. These should be prepared outlined in a document and should also include important things like support and any expertise required.
Either building or buying a system, requires a budget. Some things to include in the system budget will include the cost of software licenses. If it is being developed internally, include the cost of planning, development, testing, and deployment. Ongoing support or maintenance costs are another important consideration. In addition, be sure to include initial training or consulting with the solution if these are services needed by your department. The environment required to make the system available for use should also be included (servers, it support, firewall, etc.) in the budget as well. Finally, you may want to include system roll out costs (which may be relevant) or build them into your projects for the departmental budget.
When an organization implements asset recovery or investment recovery software with best practices, there are a number of benefits that should be attainable. These benefits are realizable and are contingent on matching investment recovery processes with a solution that incorporates the best ways of doing things. Some of the benefits that an organization implementing software should realize include: process standardization, centralization, effective user management, visibility, and asset promotion.
If investment recovery personnel discover a a way to do something that works well, reduces errors, and produces a desirable outcome, it makes sense to put procedures in place to repeat this best practice for other similar products or tasks. Good automation is a way to reproduce these best practices consistently over time and to incorporate them into investment recovery operations. With good automation, best practice processes for identification, redeployment, and divestment are standardized into work flows that save time, reduce errors, and result in more value. It is important that the investment recovery solution is designed specifically for investment recovery processes, is used by industry leaders, and is comprehensive for investment recovery operations.
One important benefit that good automation can bring to many asset recovery departments is centralization. Since the asset recovery department is often involved in selling or managing equipment from many different locations and areas, it is important to be able to manage equipment using a central interface and streamlined area. This can extend the geographic reach of the investment recovery department and can help to reduce travel expenses for the department and decrease the time needed to identify idle assets. Also, with centralized management of equipment located across the company, equipment can remain where it is instead of being transferred to a central warehouse or consignee location for sale or transfer.
Another benefit that good software can produce is effective user management. Investment recovery professionals are often dealing with many different kinds of people. These people include employees, brokers, manufacturers, equipment buyers, equipment owners, individuals, other investment recovery professionals, and consignment companies. One important feature of an investment recovery solution is to streamline and provide a framework for various interactions with some of the people that investment recovery personnel interact with daily. This includes managing various types of users in order to easily maintain records, ensure the right people have access to the right information, and to optimize opportunities for transactions.
A good manager knows that in order to manage a process or function well, the current effectiveness of this process needs to be measured. An investment recovery manager needs to have visibility into his or her operations in order to make improvements. Moreover, good visibility helps to be able to prepare for audits, to track transactions, and to locate inventory and equipment quickly. With reports that are tailored to an investment recovery department, an investment recovery manager can make important decisions like which sales methods are the best, should the asset be scrapped or donated, and does redeployment make sense. With the right tools and intelligence, investment recovery personnel can save time and make better decisions on assets and equipment.
In order to effectively sell and redeploy assets, people who might use the assets first need to know that these assets are available. Without the ability to promote these assets both inside and outside an organization, these assets will simply languish in their current location. One of an investment recovery professional's most important jobs is to market these assets to prospective users of equipment. Good software can help with this process by providing tools and intelligence for investment recovery professionals to promote their products. There are several ways that software can do this. The first tracking and organizing a list of prospective users. The second is by presenting products in a format that is friendly to search engines and other data companies. The third way is by providing broadcast and notification capability to promote these assets to users. The fourth way is by having venues that are designed to be easy to use for people who are looking for assets to ensure that they can find the assets they are looking for and that they will return again next time.
Investment recovery software needs to have processes that match the important functions of the investment recovery department. At a minimum, the software needs to be able to do several key functions. It should accommodate the identification of idle assets. It also needs to handle internal redeployments and provide a way for people at many locations to view available equipment. In addition, it should handle divestment and provide multiple forums with which to sell equipment and accommodate scrap. Equipment descriptions and listings should be able to accommodate basic information about the piece of equipment like name, description, condition, location, etc. It should also provide equipment tracking and be able to accommodate ordering, invoicing, and sales contracts. For other investment recovery departments, there may be a few other items that will appear on this list.
Another benefits that people can realize from investment recovery software is the benefit of collaboration. With the right software in place, a team can work together on various projects across both geographic and organizational barriers. The right investment recovery software lets investment recovery personnel work together with vendors, buyers, plant managers, other employees, and team members to complete a transaction for a piece of equipment. In addition, work flows and advanced roles and permissions let people work in areas where they have access to work while managers have the ability to approve pieces of equipment or oversee the entire process.
Pitfalls to Avoid
When purchasing or building software for an investment recovery department, there are several potential pitfalls to look out for and to avoid. These pitfalls can make or break a software automation project for investment recovery. Some of the main pitfalls include lack of expertise, no process matching, lack of support, no way to improve the solution, poor budgeting, and no adoption / roll out plan. The sections below explain these major pitfalls in more detail.
Whether a software product is purchased or designed in house, a investment recovery department needs to make sure that the people that have designed the application have enough knowledge of investment recovery to design an excellent application. This means that the people should be experts in investment recovery or at least have access to people who are.
No Process Match
If the automation fails to match the company's business practices and processes, it can actually make it harder for the investment recovery department to do its job. Managers need to make sure that their processes are aligned with the automation in order to reap the benefits of automation. Incomplete automation can also be problematic since it may involve transferring data from one system to another or can involve a lot of manual cutting and pasting of data.
If the organization or group that made the application does not provide support for the product, the investment recovery department can have big problems. The most obvious problem is what happens if there is a bug or a technical support issue. Without technical support, the application may not be accessible for a long time. In addition, this can be a problem if the environment in which the application is deployed suddenly changes or there is a patch or change to the operating system or database and the investment recovery application is no longer compatible.
Without a company or group within an organization that is committed to developing the product, there is no way to improve the product or to add extra tweaks once the business process changes. This means that as far as automation, there is no continuous improvement and the system will then likely need to be replaced in a few years as it becomes obsolete.
No Budget Accuracy
Sometimes when budgeting for a system, a company will fail to account for all costs that are associated with automation. By underestimating costs, an investment recovery department can be blind-sided when a new feature or process is needed or when the department is faced with additional costs. Exceeding the budget can reflect poorly on investment recovery department in the eyes of upper management or finance.
No Adoption Plan
It is important to have a plan to roll out the software within the investment recovery department, across the organization, and to the department's trading partners. Without a large scale adoption plan, the implementation will not be effective and the department will fail to realize the full benefits from automation. This can also limit the overall ROI from the system.
Clearly when looking at automation for an investment recovery department, there are a lot of things to consider. This article has provided a rough sketch on how to obtain and implement automation for asset recovery. By being aware of the the benefits that a department can expect to realize from the solution, by doing effective planning, and by understanding the most common pitfalls associated with an investment recovery software implementation, managers can maximize the return from a system and reduce risk.
To learn more about Epiq's investment recovery solutions, navigate to Epiq Recovery pages using the links below.