What is the safest way for banks to go live with new tools in the height of a global pandemic? Remotely, of course!
This is the reality that many bank and third party providers have faced over the past few months. Despite the complications that COVID-19 has brought to banks’ operations, many are still moving full speed ahead on projects with third party providers.
Naresh Kurup, Marketing Director at banking financial crime risk management firm Clari5 has experienced this first-hand. After the pandemic hit, Clari5 was forced to quickly move to a work-from-home setting while onboarding two new clients completely remotely, something the team had never done before. We caught up with Kurup to get the details.
In the height of the coronavirus lockdown, you were able to help two new bank clients start projects. Tell us more about this.
We leveraged the coronavirus lockdown situation as an opportunity to excel, for our customers and for us. Amidst the din all around about how the pandemic has been negatively impacting firms and systems worldwide, we had some noteworthy achievements during the lockdown, including three new client wins.
The two projects that we started were both large enterprise fraud management projects for banks (one of them is the Philippines’ second largest bank). Both banks were agreeable to starting their projects during the lockdown – a testimony to the faith in our capability.
We also had another prominent new bank go live with our enterprise fraud management solution, despite the nation-wide lockdown, via a 100% remote implementation.
Our cloud-based project management framework – called Clari5One, has been helping us work seamlessly and virtually. In fact, we have been working at 150% productivity.
So, we actually have been having a silver lining in the Covid cloud.
Were there any hesitations from the banks’ perspectives? If so, how did you deal with their concerns?
There were a few initial apprehensions around remote project initiation and implementation as this is not the standard practice for large enterprise implementation projects.
We modified and extended our project management framework to the banks for higher real-time synchronicity and shared visibility of the delivery management plan.
In the case of the bank client going live during the lockdown, it was mutually agreed that the entire implementation would be performed remotely. Everything from requirement discussions, to integration strategy and configuration, to implementation rollout for the go-live would be conducted fully remotely.
Also, high operational rigor, advanced tele/videoconferencing tools, real-time communication, and continuous updates assured the banks that our project team were completely in-sync throughout the project journey.
These factors were instrumental in the banks gaining confidence that the projects would proceed exactly as per plan, despite the situation.
What was the biggest challenge of remote implementation?
Given the nature, scope, and scale of these projects, typically large enterprise fraud management solution implementation projects demand large teams from either side working together physically closely.
But, given our project management platform, advanced communication tools, and the heightened diligence because of the situation, instead of working alongside the banks’ fraud risk management department officials, our remote project team dovetailed seamlessly with them. So, we were very much present, but virtually.
In fact, the CIO of the bank that went live on Clari5 EFM said, “We are an execution-oriented organization that sets sight on a goal and achieves it, despite roadblocks. We are pleased that Clari5 imbibed our vision, and went live with the mission-critical, enterprise-level fraud risk management solution, despite COVID-19. We appreciate team Clari5’s efforts to keep our operations running and being supportive at every step. Happy to have Clari5 as our valued partner.”
Also, as with any conventional project management, we had no margin for error and were all set to achieve the targets on time, despite managing the projects remotely.
Lessons learnt include project management hyper-optimization, integration approach, methodology finalization, remote infrastructure setup, SIT/UAT support, and final thrust for go-live.
In fact, if it weren’t for the virus, we wouldn’t have had an opportunity to demonstrate that yes, we indeed can remotely activate and implement.
What technology/ tools have you found useful in implementing projects with clients remotely?
As a young fintech company we are equipped and enabled in processes and technology that support ‘work from anywhere’ for most of our staff. So, transitioning to a ‘complete’ remote working situation for project implementations in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown wasn’t exactly a big leap for us.
Since implementation of the Clari5 suite requires close interactions with client teams as well as tasks and activities that are required to be done on premise, we transitioned them to Clari5One – our cloud-based project management framework that has multiple technologies as components.
Clari5One helped us with –
- Detailed requirements gathering, demo of use cases, technical specifications interactions
- Installation / configuration of Clari5 application components
- System integration tests and support for use acceptance tests
- Production deployment, go-live, and post go-live support
- Project governance (reviews, interventions, and decisions)
- Issue tracking, work allocation, and status tracking
If given the choice between an in-person implementation and a remote one, which would you choose?
Being an enterprise product company, we work very closely with client banks to help them achieve their risk and compliance requirements completely and consistently. Project implementation proficiency and on-time delivery have been the hallmarks of our success, which we have achieved consistently in implementations across geographies. But COVID-19 tested our hypothesis.
The outcome has been a mindset shift in our project implementation approach. We had experimented with remote implementations in the past, but the COVID-19 lockdown provided a live environment to validate our remote implementation hypothesis. The leading bank going live boosted our confidence to manage an entire project remotely.
We are now honing our remote implementation expertise for other projects on the anvil. We are currently implementing an EFM project for Philippines’ second largest bank using our remote implementation methodology.
Given the clear advantages of people deployment efficiency, cost economies, and much shorter go-live timeframes, we expect a substantial number of future implementations to be managed remotely.
Suffice to say, remote implementation of large banking enterprise solution projects will become the new normal.