The rush is on to refresh outdated technology in the investment management industry. DARREN BISKIN, lead implementation consultant at Morse Consulting is seeing a growing trend within financial institutions and their service providers to replace or utilise new technology to improve capability, support new product initiatives and reduce risk.

The process of selecting the right solution for your organisation is generally not an easy one and getting it wrong could be far worse than maintaining the status quo, both from a cost perspective and in terms of impact to the organisation and its clients.

More often than not major system implementation issues and the failure to fully deliver the potential benefits of a new system are the result of not placing enough value on the system selection process.

Is system selection a strategic decision or not?

Frequently seen as a necessity rather than an opportunity, selecting and implementing a new system can be complex, time consuming, costly and disruptive to an organisation even when done well. It’s often conceived by a particular area of the business without widespread collaboration or input from other impacted areas until formal approval, funding and resources are required. There is also a tendency to take the easy route and commence vendor discussions before clear objectives and requirements have been agreed by all impacted levels of the organisation. Differing and disjointed objectives in vendor briefings are a common occurrence. Going straight to known mainstream vendors and offerings has merit as they’re tried and tested, but this should not be done prematurely or it can create confusion and lead to a longer decision period or wrong choice of system. In addition, well known vendors may not provide you with any competitive advantages and the solution may suit current needs but not future ones.

This is a time when business leaders of these organisations should step back and consider the broader organisational objectives together with medium-term and future needs and make decisions in a strategic manner. They should be asking questions like:

• Is maintaining an in-house system our core strength?

• Are there other more strategically aligned or financially viable alternatives such as outsourcing?

• How do the new system requirements fit with the organisation’s overall corporate strategy?

• Are there additional opportunities that should be explored to include in the system objectives such as redesigning existing processes, additional or alternate product capabilities?

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