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Braking legacy systems become a risk

In the banking sector, wish and reality collide time and again. When it comes to IT, the situation is particularly tricky: People want to deliver the best possible service, but they can hardly live up to it due to a lack of implementation power. And contrary to the clichés, this is not necessarily due to a lack of innovative spirit in the banks. The core problem is often completely outdated, immobile (or understaffed) IT structures that cannot put the necessary horsepower on the road to effectively implement innovations. The solution to this dilemma is as simple as it is ingenious: Instead of radically overthrowing the existing system, banks can take the decisive step toward the old form and new performance highs by intelligently merging and expanding processes.

(Published on it-finanzmagazin.de on 04/23/21) Financial institutions are faced with the challenge of operating increasingly complex system landscapes and at the same time having to provide ever faster implementation and processing times. IT landscapes that have grown over decades stand in the way:

“cumbersome, sometimes highly error-prone constructs, cobbled together from a multitude of systems, between which there are no or only limited interfaces for data exchange.”

As a consequence, front-end employees have to switch between different systems and manually transfer data from one system to another. This is not only time-consuming, but also prone to errors. Robotics as a savior is slowly overtaking itself and the desire for an enduring solution is visibly gaining advocates.

Optimization in IT: To make do or to break the bank?

The challenges are becoming ever greater, and the pressure from customers is enormous. Against this backdrop, banks need to set goals that will lead to new levels of performance. In concrete terms, this means

  • Business processes must be automated wherever possible and sensible.
  • All tasks and applications that continue to be implemented by people must be brought together in a central system with modern interfaces.
  • The necessary existing systems must be integrated for reasons of efficiency.
  • Effort and time-to-market for the introduction of new products must be significantly reduced by creating uniform reference processes.
  • KPIs vis-à-vis prospects and customers, in particular “time-to-yes” and “time-to-cash,” must be made measurable and continuously optimized.

Efficiency beats sexiness

In order to achieve these goals, it is important to select the right solution for the existing IT landscape as part of a restructuring or general overhaul project.

“Intelligent software not only adapts to the circumstances individually, but also bundles dark processing, process control as well as task management in one place and presents itself to the user in the front end in the form of an integrated digital workplace including integration of the document management system landscape.”

Recurring tasks are automated and personnel are relieved in order to create free space for tasks that require human decision-making competencies and do not simply involve processing small tasks. However, the starting point of such a project is always the initial situation identified on site, the existing structures and the requirements for the future IT architecture.

When implementing the project, for example, special focus can then be placed on creating the highest possible level of integration with existing SAP systems that manage the loan portfolio (SAP FS-CML) and business partner data (SAP BP), among other things. In this example, new software should not only be SAP-compatible, but should form a symbiotic relationship. This is the only way to create real added value and thus a clear improvement. In this exemplary case, it would accordingly be advisable to install new applications directly on the SAP Cloud platform and take a first step towards the foreseeable migration to the S/4HANA world. Thanks to the existing interfaces and the SAP Cloud Connector, the software can be conveniently integrated into the existing system and data landscape with little effort using OData services.

Targeted optimization means turning the right screws

As soon as the framework conditions for a project have been established, a product, such as the processing of commercial financing, should first be selected as an MVP to be migrated completely to the new platform. All steps of the application processing from the application front-ends to the decision based on internal and external scores and the disbursement to the inventory-managing processes must then take place via the new platform.

“For a successful implementation, an interdisciplinary team should be deployed for this purpose, consisting of business analysts, experts from the business department as well as internal developers (SAP/JAVA) and experts from the external platform.”

This is the only way to ensure that no aspect is overlooked during the changeover and that the various processes, interfaces and user interfaces are implemented functionally.

Unfortunately, what often causes a grinding in the gears right at the beginning is the documentation of the existing processes, which often simply does not exist, is excessively outdated, or is trapped in the theory of the process manual. In such a case, the restructuring must be preceded by an analysis of the existing processes. At best, this is done in several workshops, in which the departments involved jointly analyze and determine where it makes sense to build on the current status. The complexity of the processes, the recording of cross-functional requirements and the laborious collaboration in remote workshops are ideally met methodically with a multi-stage approach and short sessions. In this way, processes are specified from a few nodes to the last level of detail and high reusability.

Intelligent processes are what counts

The results of the analysis can then be transferred into the modeling language BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) so that they can be read and executed by the process engine. Care should be taken at this point to avoid creating new pitfalls: When designing processes, it is essential to identify related process steps, organize them into subprocesses, and design them so that they can be used generically. In this way, a library of reference processes is created during the process that can be reused. In this way, the effort involved in converting old products or introducing new ones is significantly reduced.

Connecting interfaces perfectly for high efficiency

Depending on the initial situation, another technical task is to connect the various internal and external interfaces. To stay with the initial example of SAP integration, the main focus can be on the existing SAP systems such as SAP BP, SAP FS-CML and SAP TRBK. In this case, the objective is to quickly implement all interfaces individually within a specified timeframe or to use existing interfaces and integrate them into the processes. On the SAP side, standard interfaces that are delivered out-of-the-box can be used for this purpose.

“The new software solution should be able to integrate these as smoothly as possible.”

Integration takes place via individual Java classes, which provide the necessary data supply within the processes, the central configuration or the digital workplace. The process is significantly accelerated through their use.

In addition to processes and interfaces, the focus for the user in the bank is on the digital workplace. It is the linchpin for the optimized processes and ideally ensures a fast and irritation-free changeover on the user side. The user interface, i.e. the cockpit, brings together all relevant information in a central location and makes it available to the user within a user-friendly front end. The user interface does not have to be specially programmed and designed from scratch. Depending on the scope of the selected software solution, it is delivered directly without additional effort and can be visually customized to meet individual customer requirements. Data fields, documents, forms for processing user tasks, so-called user tasks, checklists and even complex contract creation tools are configured using graphical interfaces.

Optimization in IT: blob AND chunk

Regardless of the starting conditions within a bank, the following applies:

“Elegant solutions are needed. Instead of simply sitting out the misery out of sheer fear of having to start from scratch, it pays to take a look at the market.”

In cooperation with the right implementation partner, i.e., a consultancy and a software expert, the right solution can be found even for old-fashioned IT landscapes. Low-code platforms that specialize in the banking market and deliver extensive business content at the same time offer financial institutions decisive added value compared to industry-agnostic solutions.

Standing still is no longer an option for financial institutions; the competition on the market is too great for that. Banks must optimize their inner workings in order to remain competitive in the long term. They achieve this by automating as many processes as possible and freeing up human resources for accelerated growth and innovative products.

 

The original article and other interesting information can be found here:
https://www.it-finanzmagazin.de/prozesse-bremsende-legacy-systeme-119854/

Author

Experte für Banken IT: Benjamin Hermanns hat fintus 2016 aus Leidenschaft für die Veränderung und Digitalisierung der Finanzindustrie gegründet. Als CEO des Unternehmens treibt er diese Vision kontinuierlich voran und möchte seinen Beitrag für eine humane Digitalisierung der Arbeitswelt leisten. Zuvor hat er bereits acht Jahre lang Unternehmen der Finanzindustrie sprichwörtlich digitalisiert – als General Manager eines namhaften Scan-Dienstleistungsunternehmens.