Successful software implementation
Software implementation of a new enterprise system can be a complex process that inevitably carries a degree of risk for any organisation. The good news is, that with careful oversight and planning, this risk can be successfully managed and the considerable benefits and innovation of the new software platform can be fully realised.
The decision to re-platform a core system that manages wealth management products is a significant undertaking for any business. Like anything in life, most things that are worth doing carry an element of risk. Software platform implementations involve cost, change management, and technical and business risks, all of which require prudent management. They also create a degree of uncertainty and uneasiness within a business, given that operational staff are used to existing systems and processes.
Off-setting the implementation risks are the substantial rewards and intrinsic value that a modern software platform can bring to a business. In the digital age, consumers expect access to sophisticated financial products via simple, user-friendly interfaces that allow them to transact anytime, anywhere. The new space race in the wealth management market is to achieve competitive advantage by enabling speed to market responses to the evolving needs of customers via low cost innovation.
Modern, open architected software platforms are the underlying enablers of real-time, personalised and dynamic customer interactions. In addition to optimising customer engagement, modern architected platforms offer optimised straight through processing and end user self-service functionality that substantially reduce operational costs.
A great example of the transformative power of modern technology can be seen in the Australian superannuation industry. The Federal Government’s recent SuperStream initiative enlists true straight through processing to help make the back office operations of super funds more efficient. A superannuant’s rollover from one fund to another is now sent as an electronic secure message, processed and reconciled through a fund’s entire operating model, ensuring all regulatory and business compliance needs are met. Manual handling, which is costly, inefficient and error prone, has been largely eliminated.
Clearly, there are powerful arguments for taking on an implementation of a modern architected software platform. For new core systems implementations, the foundations for success are laid early on in the project. They include:
Commitment to change: In most businesses, core re-platforming only happens once every 10 years or so. It takes a mindset change for most business users and analysts to shift gear, from successfully delivering business-as-usual style small projects to managing a full enterprise software implementation. It is important to drive the message throughout the project team that re-platforming for innovation is not about rebuilding all the bespoke legacy processes of the past into a new platform and perpetuating inefficiencies. Instead, it is about implementing a best-of-breed approach to drive real change that adds value to the organisation and end customer.
The right team: It’s really important to form a team of experienced personnel who are not only experts in the software, but also possess deep industry knowledge. Experienced platform suppliers will place a high importance on understanding your business and will be able to design solutions that meet your needs. A strong supplier should be able to demonstrate proven implementation delivery experience in similar businesses to yours. Your key IT and business staff will form the backbone of the overall project team and should work collaboratively with system integrators or software providers. Dividing the implementation project into manageable sized ‘workstreams’ split by either business and/or technical functions will make the job more manageable and allow concurrency of activities to occur. However, it is important to always maintain an agreed accountability matrix at the workstream level, so it is clear about who is responsible for delivering what and when.
The right partner: When you select a partner for your software implementation, look for proven implementation methodologies, the right tools and most importantly the demonstrated experience to deliver the results you need.
Commitment to best practice: It is also important for your senior management to drive the message from the top down that a key objective of the re-platform is to implement the best practice processes that are available with a next generation software platform. This mandate must be strongly communicated throughout the entire organisation and the project team.
Effective governance: Enterprise systems implementations are complex and don’t happen by chance. Project governance needs to be thorough, as well as tailored to the needs of both the client organisation and the software implementation partners. With careful project and change management it is possible to implement a new platform affordably and predictably. It is important to take a business centric approach to testing. Ensure the software provider understands your business’s mission critical requirements and put them to the test prior to any software release. Technology is now allowing test automation of bespoke mission critical needs to provide ongoing protection of your business’ software configuration.
So despite the trepidation that often surrounds the prospect of system modernisation, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that carefully planned and managed software platform implementations can be achieved effectively and predictably. Key ingredients for success include expertise and experience, proven processes and tools, a state-of-the art customer driven testing methodology, a commitment to best practice and thorough project governance. Carried out with a trusted partner, a successful implementation can deliver your business a modern, open platform that supports effective customer engagement, personalised customer experiences and increased customer satisfaction and retention. In the market place of the future, it is these capabilities that will drive a sustainable competitive advantage.