Avoiding disaster for a pension fund
One of the UK’s largest pension management companies needed to respond to their regulators criticisms on the disjointed nature of their back office systems. They had two years to address these issues and they were well into the second year. The chosen solution was to implement a software package as they had poor experience of bespoke developments. The logic was the package itself would guarantee the system coherence. I was asked to finish off the project, part time, as the incumbent was taking a sabbatical.
I attended the project meeting at 3.00 on the Friday afternoon before commencing on the project the following Monday. By 4.00 on Friday I knew the project was doomed and by the following Friday I knew why.
In order to stick with the one package the key benefits of the change for the various project stakeholders had been negotiated away. They were all resigned to keeping their old systems and spreadsheets but no one had communicated this to the senior management team and the project had a life of its own.
I had some difficult conversations with the senior executives. It was my job to tell it as it was. They were very concerned about the reaction of their regulator and their operating license. After much anger and recrimination calm was restored and an approach was agreed.
We agreed a solution to identify ‘best of breed’ packages to address the functional requirements of the various stakeholders and to integrate them into a coherent whole. This was easier said than done. The challenge in this approach is the data management and getting the various packages to talk to each other. We therefore engaged data modelling expertise to help us with the selection and integration of the packages. We identified a sequence of implementation that made business and regulatory sense.
However we still had a timing issue with the regulator. We reviewed the issues raised by the regulator and it became clear we could resolve 80% of the issues over the next six months by implementing numerous quick wins to current systems. We negotiated this solution with the regulator who turned out to be sympathetic.
We implemented the quick wins to schedule that reassured the regulator that our future plans would also go to schedule. The remaining projects were delivered over the next three years.
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