London, 09 September 2010 – 4vco, the UK’s leading consultancy specializing in private equity operations, today reveals the key findings of a survey conducted among delegates at its Private Equity Software & Services Showcase (PESS 2010), which it recently held in London.
The second PESS Showcase and conference was a resounding success, with 158 professionals from 97 private equity companies attending. A full programme of interactive presentations held by 19 specialist software firms addressed the operations and software needs of private equity firms.
Recent market conditions have placed servicing investors firmly in the spotlight. Investors are demanding greater transparency and more information on deal flow pipeline and activity, whilst general partners are investing more heavily in software that helps them monitor their investments more effectively. Many private equity solution providers have responded with significant developments to their product range, and drew strong interest from private equity firms at PESS 2010.
PESS 2010 Key Findings
Nearly 90 delegates, providing a very healthy feedback sample, completed a post-event survey. Key findings included:
• 50% agreed with the statement that they were more likely to invest in private equity software and services having attended PESS 2010. Only 5% disagreed, giving a positive ratio of 10:1 and highlighting the extremely positive impact of bringing vendors and decision makers together in this unique environment.
• 76% stated that they would probably follow up with at least one of the sponsor companies, which provided a strong indication of the anticipated increase in investment that may be expected as the market recovers.
• 50% of respondents agreed that the quality of products on display was higher than they had anticipated, whilst only 7% disagreed with this assertion. This very positive feedback may be at least partially explained by recent significant advances in product and organisational development that the event was designed to showcase.
The carefully planned programme, based around real-live issues and workplace situations, led to 90% of respondents stating that the seminars were useful and informative. With 75% stating that they planned to attend PESS again in 2011, the overall success, strong demand and need for such a unique type of event was confirmed.
Later in the day, a seminar held by 4vco identified a potential perception gap regarding the relative importance of key stages in a software implementation project. Delegates were asked which of three core phases they believed was most critical to get right. Nearly two thirds thought it was software selection. The delegates voted as follows: selection (59%), implementation (31%) and ongoing operation of the chosen software (10%).
In contrast, 4vco’s view, based on ten years specialization in private equity software and operations consulting, is that it is the implementation stage above all that is the key to success. This stage can take anything between 4-12 months to carry out and includes the configuration and testing of software, data migration, report building and training.
Tony Piper, Director of 4vco, commented: “Most of the software now available is of a high quality. However, the ‘value add’ during the implementation, configuration and testing stages still tends to be underestimated by many, as these replies indicate. Ignoring the importance of this stage can lead to frustration and sub-optimal outcomes. In our experience, this is the crucial stage to get right when installing new software within a private equity firm”.
With attendance strongly up on last year (vendor and delegate numbers were up +35%) and very positive delegate feedback, the success of PESS 2010 underlined the fact that there is now a large and established sector of suppliers specializing in private equity software and operations. As a result, suppliers to private equity firms see the annual PESS event as a firm fixture in the calendar and an ideal way to market and differentiate their products to their target private equity audiences, accessing delegates from across the back, middle and front office.
A series of new, live demonstrations during the day also showed first hand how such software operates and allowed peers to share their experiences.
Tony Piper, Director of 4vco, noted: “Private equity firms are taking on board more than ever the importance of good selection, effective implementation, ongoing maintenance and training to get the best results out of their investment when it comes to using specialist software products within their firms”.