Adams Street Partners: A new custom application enables firm to enter data faster and with less effort
A legacy system lacks scale and availability
Date : September 26, 2012
When Adams Street Partners needed to update its transactional data-entry system, a new custom application enabled the firm to enter data faster and with less effort.
Industry:

Adams Street Partners LLC is one of the largest global managers of private equity partnership investments in the world.

A legacy system lacks scale and availability.
Adams Street Partners processes a variety of transactions for both its partnership investments and its investors. This transactional data drives a variety of reporting, cash management, and accounting tools and applications.

While transactions in the alternative investment space do not always involve complicated financial instruments, they often do involve complicated legal structures and agreements that are not easily modeled in many modern accounting tools.

In the early 2000s, Adams Street Partners commissioned a third party to create a proprietary tool to assist its back office personnel with entering these transactions. As the number of both portfolios and clients grew, this proprietary software became increasingly difficult to maintain and lacked the ability to scale to the needs of a growing business. Its user interface also offered Adams Street Partners’ operations team a very limited set of tools to enter transactions quickly and accurately. New quarter-end processes, such as carried interest calculations and valuations, became very time consuming and tedious.

Envisioning better data entry capabilities.
Adams Street Partners sought to replace this application, and the company outlined several desired features for the new software:

  • A flexible user interface that enables quick entry of transactions and mirrors the capabilities of Microsoft Excel
  • More consistent transactional integrity and validation processes
  • Automated calculations and integration services to gather data and prepare transactions
  • The ability to scale the software for business growth and investment diversification
  • Improved reporting capabilities to monitor quarter-end valuation processes

A trusted partner for custom development and user experience.
For assistance, Adams Street Partners turned to West Monroe Partners— the firm’s trusted partner for custom application development for many years. West Monroe Partners offered deep skills in web application development and user experience, as well as experience in the private equity and financial services industries.

A modern web application for empowered user experience.
West Monroe Partners worked directly with Adams Street Partners’ business users to develop a sophisticated and dynamic user experience in the application.

Using modern web technologies, the team was able to create a responsive and dynamic environment for data entry. In many of the data entry screens, users can navigate seamlessly through a grid with keyboard controls, enter calculation formulas, and receive feedback instantly on calculated amounts—just as expected in Excel. The user interface also offers predictive searching tools, asynchronous data loading, intuitive message handling, service polling, and various other features that users of today’s web applications have come to expect. These features, combined with the design enhancements available via CSS3 markup, helped the team create an empowered user experience.

To augment the user experience, the application also allows users to calculate batches of transactions quickly using pro rata conditions or other seed conditions. Utilizing Adams Street Partners’ current Service Oriented Architecture, West Monroe was able to automate and streamline collection of many disparate data sources used in these calculations, increasing efficiency across the accounting and operations teams.
Improved accuracy, scalability, and validation with N-tier architecture

To provide Adams Street Partners with a scalable tool, West Monroe Partners decoupled business logic from the database via N-tier architecture. While the legacy tool relied heavily on database triggers and stored procedures to enforce data integrity and validation, the new platform continues to provide the same business value without sacrificing scalability. The new tool can scale more easily with changes in transaction volume and future changes in business processes. By automating many of the up-front transaction calculations, the project team also ensured that users could enter data consistently and accurately.

By leveraging improved web user experience and modern software architectures, West Monroe Partners helped Adams Street Partners not only replace but improve a legacy transactional system that is a cornerstone of its business. Back office operations and accounting personnel can use new technologies to enter transactions quickly. Quarter-end fund valuation transactions that previously took hours to complete now take minutes. Finally, the new application promotes data integrity and validation through a loosely coupled architecture, without sacrificing scalability or future development.

Overall, Adams Street Partners estimates that the procedural, automation and data-entry changes have enabled it to save more than 600 hours of effort annually.

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