When it’s time to review systems and processes how do you best go about that? Chat to your peers in similar organisations to identify what they’re using? Search the internet? Employ the services of a consultancy firm to do the research for you? They’re all familiar options widely used, and the outcome of each can actually be quite different.
For me, chatting to your peers is a helpful approach, if they’re all using the same solutions then it’s got to be right for you…right? But are your requirements really the same? Searching the internet will leave most people confused, and you’ll end up with a dozen names to choose from for an initial beauty parade to whittle down from there. Consultancy firms tend to sway towards the predictable names (dare I even say legacy systems) in the market which may often leave more appropriate firms out of the running.
Here’s a few suggestions that can assist...
Formalise your requirements
This might be a ‘well of course’ moment, however all too often firms will look to buy a solution which fits their processes of today (processes of old), not a solution that meets their real needs. ‘This is the way we have always done it’ attitudes can mean the modern solutions for today are neglected, avoiding the vast strides in functionality gains which make a positive operational impact. Therefore, whilst of course you will have company processes and policies to follow, remain open-minded as to whether a new solution can benefit you, or the wider department, in other ways.
Proven track record
We all know that IT projects don’t always quite go as planned. This could be because of being unprepared internally, i.e. not having the resources to allocate to the project to ensure requirements are met and tested. However, the solution provider’s track record and approach to achieve a successful and timely project are vital. Here’s where reference sites come in. Some providers will utilise the same reference companies over and over again, as that was a successful project. However, if a provider is claiming hundreds of their customers are all using the same solution to which you are considering buying, you should have a big choice!
No-one can see into the future. Not the solution provider and nor you. Well, maybe short term but it’s tough to know exactly what your requirements will be in 5 years’ time. Ask the provider about its background, its specialties, whether the treasury solution they offer is one of their key business successes or is it just part of what they do. Are they investing into the product? Do they have a product board? Do they have a clear roadmap to tell you where the product is heading? More importantly, by what means do they decide how their product evolves? Some firms have a research and development team who are mainly technical who will decide how the product grows and changes. What I feel is more beneficial and comforting is a firm who builds the solution with its customers. With the treasury and trading experts who can tell you firsthand what their pain points are and what would make their lives so much easier.
This is a biggy! All too often, firms have numerous systems which don’t talk to each other. You must output from one, manually input or upload into another. Different databases sitting behind these systems make it difficult to transfer data. Having a solution that offers real-time integration capabilities is what many firms I speak with are striving for.
Lastly, I feel that being able to have an open and honest relationship with your chosen partner is key to a long-lasting relationship. Avoid smoke and mirrors, and empty sales promises which only lead to disappointment and another failed project. We all have gut instincts when meeting new people and listening to how they talk and act. Not that a clash of personalities should come into play here, I’m talking more about trust.
So they are, for me, some of the most important things to consider. Whichever route you and your organisation take in choosing new systems, I sincerely wish you every success!