Card Management system migrations and conversions are lined up globally across credit card issuers. Credit card domain is witnessing a sharp rise in platform migrations primarily due to:
- Regulatory challenges – Guidelines from national central banks regarding consumer data placement and security
- Financial institution mergers – shifting economies resulting in merger & acquisitions in BFSI sector
- Institutions opting for processor platform instead of in-house processing
- Keeping pace with changing technologies – Migration to more robust platforms
- Product upgrades – Platform upgrades with latest version
All migration initiatives have common factor for success – Testing. A comprehensive testing ensures successful portfolio switch over with No to Minimal impact on Bank and customer’s business as usual activities.
This blog will focus on key migration testing challenges and possible control steps.
Migration testing projects typically have 4 phases:
Let’s list down associated challenges at each stage:
- A medium to large scale migration program may have an all-inclusive timeline ranging from 6-12 months. It is practically impossible to freeze process changes on source platform for such duration due to swift changing customer behavior and industry demands. These changes result in scope extension and also impact the next phases – Planning/Execution.
- Another scope challenge is inadequate documentation. Over the number of years with old platform, a considerable change gets seed in system leaving behind little to No documentation due to repository miss management or resource movement. This creates a scope GAP in certain areas which only surfaces during test execution phase
- A Business requirement traceability matrix must be maintained with a track of changes during migration
- Testing teams should be agile enough to include such changes in planning and execution cycle
- BAU/Business operation teams must be consulted for a broad scope review. This will help to identify any missing process. This approach can act as a supplement of missing documentation.
- Planning timeline: Most clients plans to have a larger execution window rather than spending time on proper test planning. This is done in order to reduce overall migration timeline. Shorter timeline limits the comprehensive test coverage and at many instances, plans are revised during execution to accommodate findings.
- Final parameter set up on migrated platform is generally not available during planning phase and a base parameter oriented planning is conducted. This result in frequent revisit of test plans as soon as final parameters starts flowing in.
- Batch processing, most of the card processing activities like Due calculation/Payments/Collections etc. takes place in batch mode. This puts an extra load on test planning as different functions will have different batch requirements such as Daily batch/Month End batch.
- Discussions with product teams can help to arrive at a near right parameter set up on migration platform. This will reduce the planning update during execution phase
- Always consider batch requirements during planning phase. Cases with specific batch requirements must be clubbed.
- Testing consultants with prior migration expertise and re-usable test repositories can significantly reduce test planning time
Even in ideal scenario, it is not feasible to clear all challenges in scope and planning phase, as a result certain challenges will always flow into execution phase.
- New system readiness – Test environment preparation and readiness sometimes eats up the execution timelines due to interface readiness, correct parameter set up and batch performance
- Change in solution/business process – such changes impacts the test plans followed by execution plan updates
- Blocker defects – This area is extremely crucial for execution. Identification and closure of blocker defects has an important role to play in smooth execution and over all test timeline
- Execution teams must closely monitor system and interface readiness and adjust execution plan as per system availability
- Change is solutions should be scoped in a separate execution plan to minimize impact on existing execution plan
- Execution team must set a function wise execution priority and monitor the business requirement traceability matrix
- All major functions and business process related base parameter set up should be verified at execution start time to identify blocker defects at beginning of execution phase
- At this phase, test activities are at its last phase and a sum up of execution results is in process. This phase identities the system readiness to proceed with production implementation. This phase is not encountered with multiple challenges however; one common challenge is Go/No-Go decision. Test team plays a crucial role to assess project state and recommends on the Go/No-Go decision based on execution test results.
- All open defects must be carefully observed and should be assessed as per severity
- A walkthrough of all open items should be arranged with working group for final assessment
- Test teams must ensure that all stakeholders understand the open defects and associated risk
- A formal agreement should be made for Go/No-Go recommendation
In the end, these challenges may vary on case to case basis. Above expected challenges and its awareness can be helpful to identify associated risks and its mitigation plan.
The Iron Triangle, also known as the “Triple Constraint,” is the idea that Scope, Cost, and Schedule are intricately linked, so that, for any given project, it’s impossible to change one while leaving the others as-is. A corollary axiom, out of “Quality, Price, and Availability: one can only pick any two,” is an often-overlooked truth, but it drives wide sections of current management science, and can explain why there are never-ending conflicts in the Project Management world.
Problem #1: The Vendor selection is never good enough.
The strategy of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder, as it is seen in majority of the projects. Going by the “pick any two” rule, there are only three possible management approaches to a given project:
- Approach # 1 Demanding High Quality & Aggressive Timeline: If it’s high-quality work, to be delivered on an aggressive schedule, it’s going to be expensive.
- Approach # 2 Demanding High Quality & Affordable: If it’s high-quality work, but at an “affordable” price, then the number of organizations capable of performing it as such are going to be few.
- Approach # 3 Routine Work: If it’s not high-quality work, there are probably many organizations capable of performing it, meaning that it can be done quickly and cheaply.
For Government-sponsored projects, it is the trend to let procurements based on the lowest bidder. In this case approach #1 above is already ruled out. Doesn’t matter which of the remaining two approaches are pursued, the stakeholders who invested will complain long and loud since they will face lack of able vendors or lack of quality deliverables. Even in the instances where the service (or goods) being sought requires high quality and an aggressive schedule, criticisms will be levied about its costs being too high. It’s generally impossible to deliver comparatively high-quality, affordable services (or goods) with a ready availability.
This is where the private sector has a real advantage. In the case of IT services, some companies set up their business model for those clients who need immediate requirement at an affordable price, and staff their companies with IT professionals (known as fresher’s) in modest facilities. Other companies can concentrate on personnel with specialized and niche skillsets who can keep prices reasonable because their clients don’t need immediate attention, and can typically wait for an appointment. Still other companies can charge a premium for those clients who need to cater to requirements immediately for complex problems, and all three of these business approaches can exist side-by-side, with the most successful ones being determined by the client’s choices. This is rarely the case in Government projects, which tend to impact broader sections of their constituents in such a way that other alternatives are excluded.
The above problem is one of the reasons why the practice of formal Project Management techniques is so crucial. Regardless of which two of the three preferred attributes are chosen, the precise relationship among Scope, Cost, and Schedule is locked in when the three baselines are “frozen,” and subject to formal change control. It’s a way of making sure everyone (appropriately) involved agrees on what’s being delivered, at what cost, and by which date, with claims of deceit or poor performance evaluated in terms of the already agreed parameters.
But this is also why some Project Managers will never escape accusations of failing to meet the expectations of some group of stakeholders.
Problem #2: Project Without a Scope Creep
On a high level this resembles problem #1 since it’s also based on the “pick any two” corollary. Once the project is underway, getting more or better services (or goods) is the only informally negotiable member of the Iron Triangle left available. Costs are quantified in currency, and schedules depicted in day but better quality can be requested in many circumstances where those parameters aren’t precisely captured, especially if the improved quality being sought is a result of the project team working harder or longer. Since quality is usually far more difficult to precisely quantify than cost or schedule one can make a claim to offer a quality service (or goods) with more confidence of never being proved false than the claim of being the lowest-priced, or fastest available. It’s in this very characteristic of quality management that the clients set on maximizing their “value” by attempting to informally increase the scope and take advantage, and even seasoned PMs are vulnerable to them.
In other words, post-contract, a customer who requests a reduction in budget or who desires services (or goods) delivery sooner than negotiated can be easily rebuffed. But the client who complains about inattention to quality will usually be seen next to impossible to contradict or refute.
When it comes to the next generation of Project Managers, I believe they have a case if or when they assert that these two long-standing problems should have been addressed, if not solved out-and-out solved. That being said, they could also easily pass these two problems on to the next generation of PMs, meaning that these two Project Management Problems, among others, are possibly never-ending.
Your Wait is over as we are back with continuation of our previous blog for the challenges that Banks usually faced while doing CMS Up-gradation/Migration. So in continuation with our Part 1, below are the few more challenges:
6) Aligning Build and Delivery Methodology: Every delivery organization has its own methodologies and templates. The challenge is to make everyone agree to a common template and methodology, so that data / information can be shared across different teams without causing any ambiguity. A deviation from the already established methodology and adopted template results in more effort. Therefore, it’s very common to have some resistance from teams, who need to change or align their delivery as per the agreed new format.
The integration specifications between two systems can be another area of conflict. Typically, during initial assessment, a high-level understanding is achieved between teams on integration method. The actual conflict starts when the technical teams get involved. Different issues ranging versions for supported software, data transmission, access to data, and feature limitation can arise during Technical Specification creation. Preventing and resolving any such conflicts in the project is one of the task for such projects.
7) Managing CHANGE in the Project: As the project moves into Execution phase, a clearer picture for the new solution emerges. Also, more team members (especially business and operations users) get involved in the project. This is the period when the changes are requested to the agreed solution / strategy to align it more with business need or address some problems in the existing processes or simply to include some futuristic solution.
A proper change management process in the project helps to capture these requirements, analyze their feasibility, evaluate their impact on project, segregate them into proper category and determine actions. However, the challenge is to handle change requests effectively to avoid any cost / schedule overrun for the project.
8) Implementing Quality Checks: In a complicated project as this often Testing is not given its due importance. Some of the common reasons behind this approach are
- Over reliance on the product vendor to deliver a perfect solution,
- A view that scheme certification covers all customer critical scenarios
- Confidence that business users and operations team are best placed to conduct any testing,
- Efforts to keep the overall project schedule / cost under check
Therefore, the project team typically faces two challenges in implementing proper quality check
- Determine the testing needs at early stage of the project, get necessary estimates from professional testing teams and incorporate same in project cost and schedule
- Implement necessary test metrics and capture relevant data at different stages to showcase benefits from involvement of proper testing team in a migration project.
9) Adaptation to new system & new processes: Migration projects often leads to new practices that require people to change the way they’ve worked in the past. These changes make people uncomfortable. Moreover, some technology or users might get obsolete because of the new system / solution. This results in user resistance which can impact the realization of expected value and ROI for an organization.
Organizations typically focus user adoption efforts on training. While training is vital, it does not address one of the most important roadblocks to user adoption – user resistance to change.
At times planning a proper user adoption strategy which demonstrates the value that can be achieved through new solution, includes user’s perspective in solution development and gives users ample time to learn the new application can be challenge due to the stringent timeline and budgets of a project
10) Keeping the project compliant to bank’s audit standard: As payment switch migration is one of the critical technology transformation project for the Bank and it can impact customer data and financial data, these projects can be subjected to audit checks anytime in future.
A lot of documentations are created as part of deliverables, governance, compliance requirement during the project life cycle. A few examples of critical artifacts are the signed off specifications, test result logs, the sign-off on data migration, the sign-off on data reconciliation and so on.
Understanding the audit requirements at the beginning of the project and managing the required evidences during the project life cycle for any future audit is another challenge for the project.
Having knowledge of above factors helps in planning and forming an effecting strategy on how to tackle these challenges. Not every challenge will be a threat but has a potential to become one, hence effective management is very critical. Once the areas are identified and defined then addressing or mitigating is possible. Verinite has successfully performed such upgradation and migration project. With our expertise we help clients achieve their goal. So if you have a CMS or a Payment switch migration, upgradation on radar please get in touch with us, Verinite would be glad to assists you in making it a success story!
Many large banking organizations are opting for either upgrade or migration to newer platforms for their cards management system. This usually is accompanied by migration or upgrade of the payment switch too. Every project is unique in terms of their challenges. Yet a few factors remain constant between them.
The following are 10 challenges, that we can encounter in any CMS or a Payment Switch migration project:
- Defining Project scope: Availability of new features and functionalities is one of the significant driving factor behind any migration project. Moreover, the urge to accomplish multiple objectives in a single project is inescapable. Therefore, a switch migration project becomes an umbrella project for multiple sub projects such as product upgrades, launching digitization initiatives, implementing new additional customer service channels, launching new value-added services, etc. Although these ideas look very appealing for quick ROI realization, addition of these sub projects always add more stakeholders, technical challenges and dependencies in an already complicated project. Delay in any dependent sub-project thus derails & delays the main project
- Determining Total Project cost: A Payment switch migration project is a complicated mesh of interdependent work streams, which requires involvement of multiple teams. Due to unavailability of detailed information for each workstream, most of the time Analogous estimating techniques are used to derive the project cost. As this technique is primarily dependent on reference from similar project and each project has its unique features, deriving the total cost of the project at the beginning of the project is very difficult. Hence, cost overrun becomes a common phenomenon in a migration or upgradation project.
- Stakeholder identification & Management: CMS system & Payment switch has multiple touch points within and outside a Bank. Each touch point is a participant in this migration. In addition to this, multiple departments within a Bank are also linked to a Payment switch migration project due to its business-critical nature. Identifying all such stakeholders, understanding their requirement and defining their roles in a project is a huge challenge. In some cases, the most important stakeholder “High power High Interest” gets ignored in the Migration plan. Customer convenience, customer habits and behavior can have a huge impact on the success of the project. So ensure the stakeholders are correctly identified.
- Integrated Project Plan : Integrated Project plan is an important deliverable for Project / Program manager. This plan should be created taking into consideration the plans presented by different teams and dependencies between different workstreams. However, the plans from different teams are very high-level plans, which don’t contain work package level details. Therefore, it becomes difficult for PM to determine dependencies between different deliverables and determine a critical path for the project. Furthermore, Absence of a detailed IPP restricts the ability of the project committee to understand the impact of any change in one workstream on other workstreams and overall project. Project sponsors / Committee have to often rely on experience and knowledge of PM to identify such impacts and take corrective measures proactively.
- Shared Resources Management: Resources working on a CMS, Payment Switch upgrade, migration project (especially from Bank’s side) are often shared with other projects or production support activities. For example, the functional and technical Analysts from existing systems continue to support day to day activities in Live system along with the migration project tasks. Similarly, the resource for IT infrastructure setup must handle the current Live environment and at the same time support project for implementation of the new network structure. Same is the case with business users who struggle to complete review and sign-off process for business cases, test cases and test results because of the commitment to other day to day tasks. On the other hand, having dedicated resources for every activity will result in effort wastage as some resources are not going to be involved 100% throughout the project schedule.
Identifying and addressing these resource utilization issues early in the project is another challenge in a Payment Switch migration project. Project committee must play a central role here to resolve these conflicts and support the project team.
Stay Tuned for the Part 2 which will include the rest of the pain area for the banks in our next week Blog!!!
Have you ever wondered why certain companies are far ahead in the race than others? Their escalation and repute in the fraternity are seamless and unsurpassable. What is it in them that set them apart from the others?
Well! The fundamental distinction lies in their philosophy of work. The work culture focuses on never settling for mediocrity. Their core value of delivering more than expected is what attracts their customers and impresses them for a lifetime.
It’s a good thought to always keep your customer satisfied. But this philosophy will not take you long. While you may consider this strategy a safe play, the truth is your client still remains vulnerable to your competitors.
If you desire your clients to stick to you no matter what the competitors offer, you will have to exceed customer expectations and deliver extraordinary experiences and not mere products. Your best should be exceptional. Something they can never find anywhere else.
We bring to you a few ways in which you can add unparalleled value to your business.
1. Focus on Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is immensely important to gauge and evaluate your footing with the clients. There is no way to ascertain what your client likes or hates about your work environment until you ask for their feedback. There could be something very minute that irks your customers. If you remain unaware, you can do nothing to rectify your brand reputation.
Concentrate towards attaining maximum customer feedback and devise a strategy to overcome the challenges and exceed their expectations.
2. Be on your Toes
In today’s world, no one has the patience or time to wait for a solution. Customers seek instant solutions. They demand immediate action. So your customer service mantra should be to offer quality service NOW!
Honesty in customer service translates to happy customers. Never compromise on quality and your client will stay yours.
3. Attention to Details
Isn’t that the rule in life as well? Everyone does the basics for you but that one person who focuses on the smaller aspects wins your heart forever. It’s the smaller things that matter the most!
Never commit the mistake of underestimating your client. Taking care in answering even the smallest of the query from customer will differentiate you from others. While doing so ensure the client objective is achieved.
4. One Team Approach
Exceeding client expectation calls for taking an additional initiative. on a project working with client you need to embrace ONE team approach; vendor, client distinction should blur while achieving the project goal.
Seamless integration with teams is the key to success of a project
Who wouldn’t be charmed on receiving a surprise birthday cake or a fun video greeting? Such initiatives go a long way in transforming a satisfied customer into an enchanted one!
Accumulate personal data about your clients and surprise with a thoughtful gesture.
6. Accept your Mistake
You could be the best in your fraternity but that doesn’t signify you are free of errors. Take ownership of your mistakes and apologize whenever you let down a client. Customers have the prudence and empathy to applaud you for acknowledging your mistakes.
Such measures will undoubtedly augment your respect and position in the eyes of the customers.
7. It’s a Relationship
It’s an outdated philosophy to just make a sale. Today it’s more about building a relationship with your clients. Let your actions not reek of revenue promotion. The money will automatically flow once your customers take cognizance of your value added services.
It’s impossible to be good in all facets of a business. Recognize your niche and concentrate on its promotion. Distinguish what’s unique within you? Identify what appeals the most about you to the customers? Once you discover the answers, it’s easy to focus on these aspects and deliver an authentic and cherished experience.
Why be satisfied with mediocrity when prominence awaits you? Gear up to go that extra mile!
It was Holi, I still remember that how colorful it was made by Verinite by a simple call and saying “Hello, Congratulations! Yogesh, you are selected”. I had been being under impression that I was selected as I have sufficient knowledge on how to test the system and gave each answer with required confidence in personal interview but it’s not like that and it took almost 3 years to understand the expectations of interview panel behind selecting me and do you know what it is? – It was to “Get integrated and to integrate”, I am sure that you must be thinking that what He is saying??? I will make it clear – so relax and hear me out…
I was working for one of the client from offshore and to deliver their projects, our team almost worked 30 days in a month. On one of the Monday, we received the email “Please stop working on it and this one is scraped”, client saying. I left it in email and started working on next assigned one. I had almost forgotten about first one as focus completely shifted on the second one. Again on one of the morning what I can see that second one is also scrapped. Now I was under frustration and thinking that I have given my more than 100 percent and our work is getting appreciated then how project can be scrapped. I was worried and expecting bashing from my lead. Nothing happens, we started on next one and delivered it. Also I was happy that for first 2 scraps, we are not responsible and I was not concerned too to understand why was it scraped? Not being concerned was my 1st mistake and it does not allow to “Integrate with client” and “integrate clients with their customers”. Being a good tester we should always keep testing this integration and fix same if any observation.
Then I worked for couple of projects, I was awarded for my work and this helped me remain focused but only on my individual goals. Being focused only on individual goals, leaves others behind and we lose our hand shake within team, and that’s what exactly happened here. I lost my integration within team and I was not able to conjoin, it could be because of lack of experience or not able to understand what it needs. But when you really want to do it then it happens.
Realization of “To integrate and get integrated”:
I was there at my desk in our India office and while reading some document for next assignment (my first onsite assignment), I was asked a question by our Founder (Ashish Katkar) – when do you think our client will be happy? He knew that I would not be able to answer, he smiled and left but I did not leave his question. I carried it at onsite and started looking for an answer.
At onsite, I worked on multiple projects and did different testing projects like functional, compatibility and API integration. I received my first big project, where customer was frustrated as the core feature of the product was not working as expected and this project was initiated to fix the problem and improve customer experience. This was my opportunity to integrate client and their customer by understanding what my client and their customer’s expectation are from the product. Our team understood client’s different customers, existing business requirement and put multiple improvements on table to connect to the actual customer. As part of testing, we simulated each customer experience in test environment to make sure customer will have happy experience. It was like putting our hands on top of our customer’s hand to give him comfort and deliver 100% full proof product in market.
We faced multiple challenges after that and we made sure client is fully integrated with their customers. I would like to quote one of the unpleasant experience as it gave us opportunity to prove that we are known for what we vend. Client wanted to deliver one prepaid product site without having any project documentation. Site was already developed and development team did it by understanding based on multiple round of discussion with business team. But there was no design document or a functional specification document. Challenges arose when project got into testing stage and as soon as we were assigned, we did think what can we do now. We did apply our strategy suggested by our delivery head (Debasis Mohanty) – for now I will keep strategy is secret as you can bring project to us without any doc to understand same but what you would like to hear is that “Site is live today and functionally and operationally running successfully”.
I was alone at onsite and team was there at offshore, it explains our quality that made it possible to deliver such documentation less project. Important thing is that I have an answer of Ashish’s question – Becoming conjoiner makes client happy!!!
It was this article which instigated me to write about an interesting experience that demonstrated and proved how right the popular quote is “Customer service is not a department, it’s an attitude!”
What sets the best companies aside from the rest? The customer support. Everyone provides the same services. All companies know what to sell and how. The real difference comes in experience. Experience becomes even more important in the banking industry because “money” is involved. You put your hard earned money and your trust in a particular bank. It is their duty to ensure protection and care when you need it. Sadly, through personal experience I realized that’s not the case even with some of the best banks in the world. To show you how much of a hassle it is when the main authorities dictate and don’t give the managers the freedom to make decisions, I’d like to share this story with you.
Just like everyone else, we put our trust in one bank. We have been associated with it for 8 years and never faced a problem. When the problem arose, though, it gave us sleepless nights! As a part of our business, we have associates visiting various parts of the world. This particular incident begins in Nairobi, Kenya. The associate was bit worried as it was his first travel to Africa and again the process of getting additional vaccinations “yellow fever vaccine” didn’t make it easy to assuage his nervousness. We issued a prepaid card for him to take care of his expenditure and loaded it with enough money to take care of his T&L expenses.
Once our associate reached Nairobi, he made a few withdrawal transactions at ATM. While the first two went through, the remaining three failed with no money being disbursed by the ATM. Just like you and I, he trusted the bank to take care of it, assuming his money is safe. With the money that he managed to withdraw, he settled in and bought his necessities. When he tried to withdraw more money the next day, he received the shock of his life. He checked his balance and realized it was negative! Now, how could a prepaid card have negative balance? He immediately contacted our HR for a solution. Our HR called the bank and this is where the roller-coaster ride began.
First up, the bank insisted that the person in question (associate) correspond directly. How is that possible? He is in a foreign country with absolutely no money! On top of it imagine someone making international call on customer service IVR numbers and dealing with thousand options before getting a chance to speak with CSR (customer service representative!! When requested that they call the associate instead, they refused. The issue was then escalated to the Relationship Manager. While he was polite, he didn’t really help us. He spoke to me directly after checking with back end IT team and said that the cash withdrawal was approved from their end. This meant that there could only be two conclusions:
- The associate withdrew the money but is lying.
- The ATM authorization flow indeed failed somewhere in between. In this case, the bank would receive a “reversal” notification from Visa/MasterCard. The money would be reverted to the prepaid card post that. The shocker was this: it could take 45 days for this to happen.
45 days? My associate was supposed to be there in Nairobi only for a month! Also, what would he do without any money now? Somehow, I managed to convince our client in Nairobi to lend our associate some money. Meanwhile, I escalated the issue to the heads at the bank. Sadly, I received the same answer. I was asked to wait. After numerous appeals, requests, and hours at the bank, the Relationship Manager came back into the picture. He spewed a solution that worked in our favor as well as the banks. He suggested that the money be refunded to the account for now after a written affidavit from the company. The affidavit will state that If Visa/MasterCard declares that money was indeed disbursed at ATM, then money will be deducted from our account. I was completely fine with this solution. I was getting an immediate solution! Unfortunately, the heads suppressed him and refused to go by his suggestion.
Twelve days past and with no answer, I was extremely disappointed. I decided to write to the Managing Director of the bank, expressing my dissatisfaction. A six-liner email to the MD resolved my issue within 12 hours! Can you believe that? Bringing this to his notice changed the scenario completely! The money was refunded and I was called to sign the affidavit. Oh yes, this is the solution that the Relationship Manager suggested a week ago! Within 10 days, a notification from Visa/MasterCard confirmed our story and proved that our associate wasn’t lying.
Conclusion? The solution was already there and yet, no one wanted to implement it. A senior official will barely even understand the issue, which is why the official closest to the incident/person (Relationship Manager, in this case) must be given the authority to take these decisions. Heads can always advise but the decision must come from the person closest to the information. Making customer support a culture rather than restricting it to a department is highly recommended. Having learned from this experience, I made changes in my own company so as to never trouble my customers/clients!
Have you faced something similar? Share your experiences as comments!!!!