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Author: Sunny Yim

Senior Portfolio Manager

The Challenge

A leading Chinese Investment Bank had a vision to achieve tier-one status in a short period of time. This included offering a greater variety of financial services and products, and improving operating efficiency. Thereby increasing market share. In addition regulatory compliance was mandatory throughout the development stage and onwards.

The programme was complex due to the need to renovate the IT infrastructure, deploy trading related systems, and having everything done in a very tight timeframe. On top of that, the project management culture and skills were not well developed. There was no portfolio monitoring practice and project financials were not properly tracked. As a result, project management and IT risk management practices had to be urgently improved to support the delivery of this programme My role was to oversee the technology transformation programme, and safeguard the company from IT related risks.

The Solution

Emphasis had to be given to Risk Management and Project Governance while allowing the parallel development and deployment of systems. A three-year strategic technology advancement programme was specifically designed to overcome the constraints.

IT risk management began with standardisation and implementation of operational procedures. Roles and responsibilities were redefined to allow segregation of duties for the preparation of operating, self-owned, trading platforms. An Internal Control Team was setup to focus on service incident monitoring. Any repeated service incident was traced to ensure root causes were identified. Event logs were regularly reviewed for the discovery of abnormal operating violations. Audit and regulatory issues were tracked to ensure full completion and to minimise the chance of repetition. An incident summary report, with recommendations, was provided for management review monthly.

The Project Management Office (PMO) setup commenced with a relatively simple model to track project progress on each stage. Project processes and templates were implemented to cover the entire project cycle including project definition (scope and objectives), project approval, project risks, project issues, communication management, project schedule and budget monitoring, and post project evaluation. Training was provided on project management concepts and skills that allowed us to progressively adopt a more formal project management environment. Project issues and status were summarised into Portfolio Dashboard for monthly management review.

Project costing was reviewed with the Finance department before the annual budgeting stage. The initial IT budget was reviewed with corresponding sponsoring departments for pre-agreed cost allocation ratio. Major project deliverables that were associated with payment schedules were adjusted whenever possible to facilitate optimal corporate level P&L arrangement within the fiscal year.


The Outcomes

The Transformation Programme was substantially completed in three years with the business objectives largely met. Technical achievements including High Availability, Trade Flow Efficiency, Direct Market Access (DMA) Technology, Program Trading Adaptor, Master Customers Database and a Market Data Architecture. The Real Time Position and Risk Management systems were developed concurrently according to their dependency.

The PMO and project managers were operating efficiently to manage annual projects’ with a cost of over HK$100M. There were no major service interruptions during the programme .

The key to the success of this programme was the selection of appropriate models and tools and the assignation of the right people to manage the projects. It cannot be emphasised enough that to be successful with complex projects you have to have the right people doing the right job at the right time. This is only possible if you select the right people and they know what is the right thing to do and when they should do it. This is often easier said than done.