As a financial services organisation you’ve probably gone through several tech or IT migrations. In fact, you may break out in a cold sweat just thinking about them.
Cost overruns and delays are common, with unforeseen problems having a habit of emerging when you least expect them. But it is possible to run a smooth tech transformation that sets you up for your next phase of growth.
Of course, there will be challenges, there are always challenges, but by taking these steps you’ll avoid the pitfalls that so many only notice once they’re falling into them.
We’ve helped clients navigate their way around these potential problems and deliver migrations that create competitive advantage for their business. Whether that’s turning around struggling programmes or setting new migrations up for success.
We’re able to do this because of our team’s diverse expertise. We have a blend of experience across the finance sector from people who’ve worked in investment banks to others who come from third-party suppliers, so we know how each side works and the challenges they face.
We combine this knowledge with a human approach, working closely with clients to put the following tips into action and deliver successful projects on time and on budget.
Thoroughly scope the project
Before you get underway with any transformation identify the most critical parameters and build your plan with them firmly in mind. Which data is moving to a new system? Which clients and accounts will be impacted? What is the process for each instrument type and service you provide? And is there a specific date it needs to be completed by, such as the end of the financial year?
Clearly communicate your migration approach
You may have a brilliant plan in place, but it can still be blown off track if it’s not shared with everyone on the team. They need to know the details that effect their day-to-day jobs, such as when ownership of data changes hands, whether migration requires positions or back-dated transactions and how open transactions will be managed.
Understanding all the impacts of a migration and communicating them early, will help the big switch over go smoothly.
Put together a run book
This acts as a users’ guide that will help your team overcome any issues they face as they transition to a new platform and way of working. It should explain the instruments and tools now at their fingertips, how to use them in a range of scenarios and how to apply them to specific clients. It’s the place they’ll turn to first if they have a question or problem, and if they can’t find an answer it will tell them who to ask.
Test, test and test again
Put your new platform to the test in a number of situations, ranging from your clients’ business-as-usual needs, whether they’re an institutional investor or one person at their kitchen table, to a worst-case scenario event. You want to be prepared for every eventually and certain your new systems and processes hold up under pressure.
Set your entry and exit criteria
This is a key part of testing. What tasks need to be completed before you can get testing underway and what needs to be successfully completed before testing can finish? And are all the key people involved fully aware of them and how they’ll be measured and validated?
By answering these questions you’ll make sure you go into testing in a strong position, with key issues already addressed, and come out of it ready to hit the ground running.
Confirm task owners
Giving people defined roles and responsibilities during a migration both shares the load and creates a culture of accountability which helps drive the project forward. If there is an issue with one area of the project, the accountable person will escalate it before it becomes a problem.
Deal with data securely
In financial services you are handling huge amounts of sensitive data, so it’s no surprise if you’re a little nervous about moving it. There are plenty of tales of lost information to keep you awake at night. Having said that, this is also a good time to cleanse your system of old or unnecessary data.
This starts by defining what data you are moving, before establishing how it will flow from its source to its new home and putting in place error reporting procedures – for example, if security identifiers don’t resolve to the same asset after migration.
Keep up with compliance
Regulations vary from country to country and are constantly being tightened and tweaked, especially in the areas of know your customer and anti money laundering. It’s also important to make sure clients can access tax documentation when they need it.
Understanding how your new systems will impact your compliance obligations across the business and all its locations will keep you out of regulatory hot water, especially if there are particular requirements around the time of your migration.
Find your exceptions
Will any clients or services fall outside the remit of the migration? There may be good reasons for this, but how the relevant data is dealt with and how you will provide a good service for those affected should be considered.
Make a plan for legacy systems
Once you’ve completed a migration, you need to decide what to do with your old systems and processes. Decommissioning them will save you time and money in hosting and maintenance, but switching them off may come with risks and unintended consequences that need to be mitigated..
This is a snapshot of some of the considerations you should make before embarking on a migration. Each project is different and will have its own challenges and pitfalls, but with careful planning your tech migration can go smoothly and enhance the services you deliver without ballooning budgets and frustrating delays.
To find out more about our team’s first-hand experience of implementing these steps, and how we can support you from scoping right through to completion,