Jan 25, 2013

How to Manage your Deal Flow with CheckLists

Checklists could help you to keep track of your deals
If your company is an Advisor in the Private Equity Business, is a Venture Capital or if you are in any other industry, the use of checklists for managing your projects is very common. So, there's nothing new with the use of the checklists itself.

But depending on how you use your checklists and on how much you are accurate in your approach, your results will be different and the time you could save could vary a lot.

You have a huge experience and a long track record of Deals in the Private Equity Business, you are a M&A Advisor or you manage a Venture Capital Fund, so you should use your knowledge (and a bit of your time) to identify the common tasks for each category of the Deals that you know.

You probably consider each Deal unique, with a lot of unattended events, and you know that the key variables to succeed are 'soft', due to the ability on creating relationships, on understanding other's intentions, negotiation, and so on. So: managing a Deal Flow is not like building a car in 1930. True.

Anyway, you'll have a lot of benefits by seeking a formal (and flexible) model; more than a schema is possible, but let's now analyze the checklist approach:

- Choose the set of stages your deals could have (i.e.: Screening, Live, Success, Broken, etc)
- Identify the macro categories of your deals (i.e.: M&A, IPO, etc...)
- For each category, create a checklist with a list of Tasks. This is the key and the most difficult task; try to focus on the type of tasks you could have in the category and write down some instructions specifying the input and output for each task, such as writing/signing a document, meeting with contacts and so on. Always create an 'End' task to mark the checklist as finished.
- Identify wich tasks require to manage a list of contacts to be completed. In a task focused on finding customers or investors, you should iterate on a list of prospect contacts and you should do some action for each one.

Then you should instantiate your checklist model for your real world. How? And how to keep it flexible/adaptive? Try it using a spreadsheet, but keep in mind that you can't manage more than a few complex deals in Excel without confusion; some hints:

  1. Write down your model in excel and try to check it with some past deals
  2. One Deal can have more than a checklist of different categories (ex.: Raising + Acquisition); your choice of categories should be modular to build a unique mixed checklist for each deal.
  3. Do not allow to change a task-name inside a checklist
  4. Allow a different sorting of the tasks on the same category
  5. Allow parallel tasks
  6. Allow to delete a non-useful task from a checklist
  7. Identify and exploit cross links between deals (i.e. the same contact could be involved in two or more deals)

Let me have your comments.

On inPrivate Software we recently introduced a flexible way to manage checklists and tasks inside the deals, Sign Up for free herelearn more about inPrivate Software or ask for a Demo here.

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