1. Starting the journey without understanding and capturing the Current State
Every year, the rescue workers of the White Mountains have to fetch hikers who started out their climb on a bright and sunny day in their shorts and tee shirts, with minimal supplies and little or no experience with the terrain. It was happening so often, that the New Hampshire Fish & Game Agency launched the “hikeSafe” program that has checklists for required gear, discussions of weather, technology recommendations, etc. Hikers who ignore the recommendations may find themselves with a bill from the Agency, for the tens of thousands of dollars expended during the search and rescue.
Technology professionals, under pressure to deliver on project deliverables, often bypass the tedium of inventorying the current state of systems, interfaces and data quality in favor of getting an immediate start on the project. They spend little time questioning the end users on the current terrain–which can be rife with disagreements about the goals of the project and competing needs–and fail to account for the changeable “weather” of regulatory requirements. Advocating for the time and budget to do a thorough current state analysis can be tough, but skipping it can often leave a project in need of an expensive rescue.
2. Neglecting to plan for future enhancements during system selection
First, it’s worth noting that no off-the-shelf product will satisfy every need. It’s important to carefully evaluate the software offering and identify product gaps for potential showstoppers. More often than not, you will require product enhancements. Ask specifically how and where your requested enhancements fit into the vendor’s product roadmap and the expected date the enhancements would be delivered.
If you are told the enhancements will be available in a future version of the product, remember there can be significant delays in between one version and another. Always ask for a delivery date rather than a version. For larger enhancement requests, you should expect to work closely with the vendor through the analysis and development process. Ask for regular follow up meetings to track the progress and request demos to ensure the final product meets your expectations.
Additionally, it may not be possible for the vendor to add larger enhancements to interim releases and they may require you to take a major release. Plan to spend more time and resources upgrading and testing as a result.
3. Not conducting a Proof-of-Concept (POC) before signing the contract
Conducting a POC can seem like a waste of time and money. In reality, a POC can save time and money by ensuring that the firm is entering into a key vendor relationship with everyone’s eyes wide open. In fact, 50% of respondents of the 2015 IMP and TSAM Technology Survey indicated that if they had the project to do over, they would conduct a POC for a more in-depth validation of the vendor’s capabilities, including the vendor’s resources and qualifications.
Many times, vendors will promise expertise across multiple areas in order to make the sale. When implementing a trade order management system, take time to interview each and every member of the proposed team. There will be people responsible for data, architecture, interfaces, compliance, trading & portfolio management workflows, and more. Review their profiles and validate their experience with your peer firms. Explore how they think through problems and develop solutions. Understand their true capabilities and skillsets in order to ensure a timely and risk controlled implementation.
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