Implementation: moving towards a collaborative approach
by Brendan Reilly, Managing Director, Global Head of Client & Market Execution, Barclays
Once a company has decided to adopt a multi-banking approach, a number of decisions will need to be taken about the banking group and how the company should go about implementing the new structure.
When choosing a banking group, companies will focus first and foremost on the capabilities that banks can offer in a particular country or region. In contrast to a mono-banking arrangement, the object of the exercise is to choose the most suitable bank for each market, so the company will need to assess the banks’ capabilities individually while also considering how effectively the banks under consideration will complement each other to form a complete solution.
The company will also look at factors such as economies of scale which could lead to favourable pricing, as well as the ability of particular banks to comply with industry standards (e.g. XML or SWIFT) around format and connectivity. The strategic commitment of the bank to a particular country or region will need to be evaluated closely.
Once the company has selected and appointed its banking group, the next step is to implement the solution. This part of the exercise can be significantly more challenging in a multi-banking arrangement as companies may have to run a number of implementation projects simultaneously with different banks in different regions. As such, a smooth and efficient implementation process is particularly important to the overall success of the project.
Anatomy of an implementation project
The implementation process typically incorporates five key phases:
Once a bank has been appointed, the first step is for the bank to understand the company’s goals and objectives. This will involve focusing on its current operations and identifying any opportunities to make these more efficient – for example by consolidating existing accounts and activities as well as the architecture behind them.
When the scoping exercise is complete, the next step is for the bank to build all of the relevant topics and discussions into a project plan which will incorporate all of the relevant activities together with the associated timelines. Once the plan has been developed, it will be presented back to the corporate client with a particular focus on key priorities, activities, milestones – and the final end-date for the solution. Of course planning will occur on both sides. It is interesting how often previously unspecified requirements during scoping can come out through the company sharing its overall plan for the project. It’s key for each bank to understand where it fits in to the corporate’s overall plan.
Opening accounts and putting in place the technical infrastructure is by far the most complex and demanding element of an implementation exercise. The bank should be able to take an active role in supporting the corporate, for example by assisting with the completion of relevant documentation. The bank should provide a single point of contact to work with the appropriate contacts on the corporate’s side on topics such as connectivity, messaging and file formats. It will also undertake an end-to-end testing programme to check that data is being processed correctly. The corporate can gain efficiency here by coming up with a set of test criteria and ideally high level test cases, that can be shared across the banking group. This will ensure that each bank has a common understanding of the aims of the corporate and reduces the corporate effort. In particular, the more efficient corporates will be able to clearly articulate what the criteria are for testing to be considered successful.
4. Warranty period
When the required accounts have been opened and the appropriate products and services put in place, the bank may offer a warranty period of two or three months. During this period the bank’s implementation team will work with the company to make sure that everything is functioning efficiently and effectively in the manner agreed during the initial scoping period.
Once the warranty period is complete, the bank’s implementation team will hand over to its business as usual activity teams who will manage the relationship going forward.
In some cases some additional requirements may arise, in which case the bank will undertake another scoping exercise in order to add any products and services that are needed outside of the original scope.
5. Post-implementation review
Once all the other phases are complete, the bank and corporation will undertake a review of the implementation. This might involve a questionnaire session, during which the solution is reviewed and evaluated. This is an opportunity to make sure that all of the original components of the project have been completed and to identify any lessons that can be learnt from the process. Once this meeting has been completed, the implementation project will be officially closed down.