The Paralyzing Possibilities of the Clean Slate.

There is something very exciting about a clean slate.  It is both empowering and challenging.  The empowerment is a function of the many possibilities and the challenge comes from the unbounded possibilities and having to make great congruent decisions.

Designing a new solution from scratch is a great creative exercise but also one that forces a different level of diligence in design.  Typically when solutions are designed the focus is on the requirements and the constraints – both are equally important and factored into the optimum solution.  When constraints are lifted new possibilities emerge.  Until the first line is drawn, the endless possibilities of the empty canvas can be paralyzing.

If you were to draw a new bank, which line would you draw first?  Where would you start?  The enterprise CIF?  The Channels?  Analytics systems? How would you decide?

My suggestion is to begin with the transformational goals in mind:  what is the theme of the transformation?  Is it driven by customer centricity goals? Removing or eliminating front to back office friction?  Is the goal to improve operational efficiency and simplify the IT landscape?  If you had to be sure to get one aspect of the conceptual design right, what would it be?

Making the key goal the transformation the first element in the new design ensures that this concept has been well articulated before further components are drafted.  The result is that this will form as a key attribute of the new design.

In my experience with one banking transformation programs the conceptual design began with an enterprise CIF that spanned the organization, fed all channels and an enterprise services bus that provisioned services from the vendor package modules to the channels and third parties.  These early concepts were defined and refined over time but remained through to go live and they were in response to the transformational goal of increasing business agility.  By starting with these concepts it made it easier to align other aspects of the design to the total solution.

When designing for banking transformation it is important to understand the transformation theme, manifest that goal in the core of the design, iterate the design and incorporate feedback, and then stop designing and start building!

One Response to The Paralyzing Possibilities of the Clean Slate.

  1. I agree with the starting point being the CIF; after all its central to almost every interaction for the bank. The second area to focus on early is definitely the ESB and interaction mechanism through for various modules.

    One key area which should also be looked at early in the game is how the subledger(s) and the general ledger are setup. More often than not; this area gets overlooked as its treated as an ‘internal’ function thus can be ‘managed’ later. This leads to unnecessarily convoluted architecture and often becomes a nightmare.

    There are two sides to the coin for banks- one which is customer facing (think CRM, CIF, Products) and the other which is internal facing (think MIS, Internal Reporting, Compliance Reporting, Accounting). Given a blank sheet to start with; both sides of the coin need to be considered- flipping the coin doesn’t get great results.

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