Technology implementation is a critical process and should be seen as an opportunity to enact real, positive change in the business.

(Editor’s Note: This piece is the second of a three-part series published by Lionpoint’s Real Assets team.)

In Part 1 of our Real Assets article series, we explored Data Strategy, addressing the complexities and considerations around building and enacting a solid data program, concluding that data governance and management are paramount to a competitive, forward-thinking firm. In the next instalment of our series, we delve into the systems that are imperative to organize, house and transform that data, discussing how to implement a technology stack that is the right fit, whilst avoiding typical implementation pitfalls.

Part 2 – Real Assets Technology Strategy: Implementing for Change

Beginning the journey to implementing new technology can be a daunting task. Businesses face a myriad of challenges to overcome, from changing the way people work, to resourcing lengthy projects with already stretched teams, while also ensuring the right technology partner has been selected, and that the software has been designed appropriately to support the firm’s goals.

The challenges are reflective of the task; technology implementation is a critical process and should be seen as an opportunity to enact real, positive change in the business. Leading firms are recognizing that IT is not just a necessary expense, but a method by which they can set themselves apart from the competition, transform business efficiency and drive innovative thought.

It is important to recognize that a new system alone is not a magic fix for business inefficiencies. An implementation project is a complex and valuable transformation, requiring sufficient resource, extensive planning and substantial effort dedicated to defining a change management program.

Prior to embarking on any implementation, it is imperative that teams are aligned on the goals and challenges ahead. Firms that have been successful in implementing new technology approach the project with these six strategic guiding principles:

1. Discovery is Key

Real Assets firms that conduct effective implementations have spent the time interviewing key stakeholders up-front to understand business requirements. Documenting the current processes, pain points and aspirations of all teams will ensure the system is being designed to tackle the most pressing issues first. Skipping this discovery phase and going headfirst into implementation will result in a drawn-out project, team frustrations and a system not working to its full potential.

2. Align and Standardize

Take the opportunity to assess what processes and data can be easily aligned across teams and regions, as well as streamline disparate and duplicative reporting. Many teams want to look at similar data with different angles, so having a clear vision of common and variable elements will help streamline the implementation. This has always been particularly complex for investors in European and Asian markets due to regulatory differences and jurisdictional idiosyncrasies, but as Real Assets firms further diversify their investments into expanding asset classes, the challenges are becoming ever more apparent. Real Assets technology and the implementation process should help standardize key processes and data flows, yet be flexible enough to allow layering of asset class and regional differences on top.

3. Plan and Prioritize

Implementations are a long journey; start small and focus planning on a Minimum Viable Product that can be built upon incrementally over time. Achieving small wins over the course of the project will keep stakeholders engaged, so allocate time at the start to form a prioritized roll out plan and communicate this well. Successful prioritization is born out of having a clear end goal and alignment on what success looks like.

4. Curate the Implementation Team

A nimble, focused and knowledgeable project team is a key driver for efficient implementations. Those involved need support and recognition, with prior experience in implementation principles being highly beneficial. Beyond the immediate team, the wider stakeholders need to be brought in at the right times to ensure good levels of engagement and high user adoption as a system is onboarded.

5. Organize Data

Data migration is often the longest and most challenging aspect of implementations. Take the time up front to assess the data needs for the system implementation; documenting the format, source and relevant business contact. Assess data completeness and accuracy, and undertake data cleansing projects prior to engaging with technology suppliers. Ensure data migration has dedicated resources and ownership throughout the project.

6. Understand Change Management

Change means different things to different firms, people and processes. Alongside your digitization strategy, it is important to define a change management strategy. This will be unique to each firm, depending on the culture within the organization. New technology in the hands of unprepared and untrained users will quickly fall into disarray, so agree beforehand on the approach that will encourage people to alter their existing behavior and ensure effective system usage. Appropriate communication, streamlined and user-friendly process design, as well as engaging training are all vital elements of preparing for change.

Continuing the Journey

Tackling a large implementation in smaller, deliverable chunks is helpful in keeping people engaged, but often when reaching ‘Go Live’, firms fall into ‘business as usual’ activities and fail to keep shaping and developing the system as industry pressures evolve. Ensure continued development by frequently checking in with teams and working through new requirements as they arise. It’s important to maintain an operational team who can manage system development and administration on an ongoing basis.

Real Assets firms who approach digitization with the understanding that it is a process of continual evolution, that involves wide ranging participation and strong communication, will find it much easier to overcome the challenges of the project. Roy Amara, American scientist, futurist and President of the Institute of the Future summarized it perfectly: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

If your firm is considering embarking on a technology selection and implementation journey, our specialist Real Assets team have a wide ranging and agnostic view of the vendor landscape, and extensive implementation experience. Get in touch today to see how we can help accelerate your technology journey.

For North American organizations, please contact Marlena Badway at mbadway@lionpointgroup.com, while Europe-based firms should email Hannah Holt at hholt@lionpointgroup.com.

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In this article
Marlena Badway
Senior Manager, Real Assets
Hannah Holt
Senior Manager, Real Assets

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