Financial services are an infallible measure of your time
At the time of European colonization, the great adventures of exploration were only possible thanks to the issuance of loans by the great bankers of the time.
In the western United States, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, banks operated with minimal regulation. To build trust in its users, the bank was often the most solid building in the entire settlement. During the time when remote communication was done by MORSE code and the train lines forced to coordinate the schedules in remote territories.
Nowadays, the need for trust and guarantees has not changed, although the means to produce it uses current technologies.
Entities providing financial services to private users move trillions of dollars around the world, and mainly include commercial banks and insurers. The transition to increasingly more digital users has forced this sector not only to provide online banking services, but to give access to those same services in mobile applications.
The pressure on banking to modernize its IT systems
And it's not just about designing an attractive and useful online banking application.
A commercial banking mobile application is only possible as a result of dozens of different projects, such as:
- Making remittances to other banking entities
- Secure authentication system with fingerprint
- Account management, with recovery of historical information and permanent updating of the latest movements
- GPS navigation to find the nearest cashier or office
- Viewing of information
All this does not take into account all the technological infrastructure with which the online banking application must be connected in order to be launched, nor the legal and compliance obligations to which this type of operations are subject, including the protection of data during its recovery , treatment, storage and communication.
Competition is fierce: according to a Ernst & Young report launched in 2016, in most surveyed countries, the general public relies more on mobile banking services from supermarket chains or digital home banking to traditional banks' online banking applications .
If these projects were not managed in a coordinated way, it would be impossible to guarantee the service. What's more, it would be crazy to think that it would work at the time of launch. That is why every financial services company needs to manage its projects in a coordinated manner.
That means that, without addressing all the implications and connections between the new application and existing systems, and without coordinating projects based on these connections, at some point we will find this message when we open our online personal banking application:
"We are experiencing some technical difficulties. Apologies for the inconvenience."
If we reach this outcome, coordination has failed. Meaning having to abandon the project management to deal with the crisis.
The message has as many causes and variations: login problems, failure to update data, procedural problems.
However, the result is the same: loss of customers and reputation.
That is why, for the organizations that manage to coordinate their projects, competitive advantages immediately ensue. In addition, attracted by a comforting user experience, new customers arrive in flocks. The most robust building in the city has been erected, perfectly visible on every mobile screen.
Financial services and project management
In order to avoid messages like that and to construct a robust strategy of technological delivery, the responsibility of the CIO of a banking institution has to be the general of his army. In order to coordinate their activities, these profiles should focus on at least 6 major responsibilities:
- Develop projects for all business units of the organization with equipment and limited funding, often responding to direct demands for new internal projects.
- Contributing to productivity goals consistently.
- Leading the digitization of the service portfolio.
- Modernize information systems, which are often decades old. The transition is difficult, but without it the overall response time will be compromised. In addition, problems of backward compatibility may arise as soon as there are strong demands to implement new technologies for a user, such as direct mobile payment.
- Reducing contingencies that impede active planning and "putting out fires" effectively.
- Use credible measures to see if teams are working on appropriate projects.
The 11 questions for financial services projects
These responsibilities require access to aggregate information, such as that provided by portfolio management tools, and which can be summarized in 6 basic questions:
- What projects are currently being implemented?
- What projects are planned?
- What resources are available?
- Are there limits or restrictions on the use of these resources?
- What other projects can be implemented with current capacity?
- What are the dependencies between projects?
- What are the options for resolving conflicts for the use of resources between different projects?
In addition, there are other questions whose response is likely to require meetings and deliberation. The following 4 are some examples.
- Are there unapproved project proposals that merit efforts in the light of the current situation, or do they have synergies with other projects already initiated?
- Given the follow-up of the projects, is it appropriate to cancel any of the ongoing projects?
- Have resources been planned according to project priorities and job-specific competencies?
- Is there any review of objectives and priorities affecting project implementation?
In order to be able to respond adequately to these questions, it is necessary to use the project portfolio of the organization as a repository of ideas and proposals that are evaluated, analyzed and initiated according to a constant cycle.
In many organizations in other sectors, the portfolio steering committee is comprised of directors from various areas, each of whom provides input on priority projects. This model can also be implemented in banks or insurers; the key is to find the balance between the technical feasibility criteria of IT managers and the business vision.
On these foundations, the digitization, innovation and commercial development projects of any financial services entity will be protected by a robust governance system with guarantees of success.
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