Koller is associated with Brintech, www.brintech.com
Beat them or love them. It matters not. Vendors bombard financial institutions
with advertisements for all sorts of software and hardware, often claiming
to revolutionize some aspect of banking. Some products meet and exceed
expectations. Other products plainly fail to do anything of value for
complicate the divide between good and bad, the way a bank selects, implements,
and monitors a technological product significantly contributes to the
final effect on the bank's environment. An auto owner may find a fantastic
deal on diesel fuel, but if his car only takes unleaded gas, anything
else will clog the engine. Similarly, many technical products for banks
are incompatible with existing systems or simply unnecessary.
managers and other delegates responsible for technology in an organization
should approach these projects with a clear procedure for analysis and
decision-making. A strategic slant helps control indiscriminate upheavals
of systems and work processes.
project has unique factors. A five-step process can draw a clear picture
for everyone involved in the venture, and increase the likelihood of a
successful outcome for the bank. They are:
Someone needs to recognize the need for a project, define it, and initiate
At this point, project managers structure a proposal that accomplishes
the tasks required to conclude the project.
Project managers coordinate the people and resources required to implement
During this phase, the progress of the plan is monitored and adjusted,
People need closure. A formal ending to the project brings satisfaction
and a reallocation of resources.
of projects require these five phases of development. Because of the complexities
and fluidity in the technology marketplace, certain aspects of this type
of project management are more nebulous, requiring special insight and
experience. Most certainly, they require management by individuals who
understand the products, services, and vendors that will decisively impact
the final effect of the project. Technology can raise many questions for
even the most knowledgeable IT personnel.
Clearly define the project. Project managers should elicit input from
staff within the bank who will be affected by the proposed technology.
The end users face some of the greatest daily impact, and their psychological
buy-in is valuable to the bank. Project managers need to describe in detail:
- The technology
system and processes to be implemented or changed.
- How the
bank will use the application.
- The benefit
the technology will provide to the organization.
information on a form standard to these projects. A lucid, unambiguous
definition goes a long way toward controlling the outcome of the project.
A positive impact is clearly the goal. Although that seems obvious from
a step back, there is often an unavoidable, interim impact of new technology
on an organization. During this time, frustration may develop for many
reasons, including system glitches, lack of knowledge, and user downtime.
managers can mitigate the prospect of frustration by reviewing the big
picture. Some changes required for a new IT component might be work process
reengineering, staffing levels, training and more. The changes may initially
inconvenience some departments, but are required for the eventual greater
questions to ask are:
business processes and functions should be changed?
resources are required to support the operation of the new technology?
the impact on current training resources.
new hardware or use of existing hardware.
new software or use of existing software.
the impact on the current network infrastructure, IT policies, and standards?
new IT solution be applied to other areas of the bank?
any redundant or duplicate system be used, modified, or eliminated?
At this point,
it may be determined that the project will drain resources, or perhaps,
profit the organization more than previously anticipated. Either way,
the evaluation helps assess whether the bank has the means to attain its
goals. The final success of the project relies on the bank's ability to
maintain the technology, including support, training, and maintenance.
Project managers can ask several questions, in conjunction with assessing
the project's effect on the bank, to determine the value of the new technology.
The bank's long-term strategic plan comes into play at this level (assuming
that the strategic plan is up-to-date, and in line with current bank goals).
The following facets of the project should be addressed:
strategic goals does the IT project help meet?
prioritization ranking does this project mandate in the current project
schedule and use of available resources?
the intangible benefits.
the tangible benefits.
IT project costs.
hardware, software, and installation costs.
vendor maintenance and support fees.
internal maintenance and support costs.
five-year ROI analysis and/or net present value when comparing alternatives.
of analysis helps management and staff gain enthusiasm for the benefits
of new technology, and understand the cost in time and money involved
in implementation. A common disappointment in technology projects is misconception
of long-term costs and benefits. Project managers and certain members
of IT personnel may thoroughly understand the functions and capabilities
of a new software application, along with its total cost of ownership.
At the same time, management and users may have completely different expectations.
Creating a tangible document with full descriptions of the outlined information
may help avoid these adverse situations.
The risk factors involved in a technology project should be carefully
assessed. The bank can minimize the danger by carefully assessing it,
and forsaking a project that provides evidence of unacceptable risk. Project
managers should assess the risk of:
to implement the project on time
- Not implementing
the intangible benefits
the tangible benefits
estimated project costs
used at this level will considerably help the bank avoid unacceptable
conditions. The flip side of risk is security. Project managers can secure
the bank's technological investment by prudent inquiry into all conceivable
outcomes of the project.
Finally . . .
A bank can use technology to grow. More than that, technology oils the
wheels of progress in some areas. But, an organization cannot take on
everything presented to it. When a decision is made to examine new systems
and products, the project should have a dedicated system of management
and prioritization. This system requires that its participants possess
knowledge, insight, and a determination to use a uniform project management
methodology. The level of thoroughness and competence that project managers
use to manage a project will mold the ultimate result for the bank.
Lynn Koller is a writer for Brintech, a technology management firm based
in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Brintech serves clients across the country,
helping them find ways to profit from their technology investments. Lynn
reports on general technology issues like Internet trends, e-commerce,
and network design for business publications. Before joining Brintech,
she worked in the legal field, and designed and taught computer classes
at the college level. Through Stetson University and a community college,
she instructed DOT and other government employees about the use of the
Internet and various office applications.
has a B.A. degree from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida.
She is just inches away from her Master of Arts degree in writing.
more information on Brintech go to their website: www.brintech.com or