8 Proven Success Factors for the Implementation of Modern Decision-Making Software

by Andrea Vieten
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Question: What do process optimization, monitoring of transactions and non-financial events, risk-based authentication, fraud prevention, list screening, and probability analysis for high costs have in common?

These challenges sound so different and incompatible with each other on the surface. However, they do share one commonality: decisions must be made.

A decision must be made as to whether a transaction or non-financial event is risky or not, or whether further security checks are necessary. Additional decision making is required when it comes to identifying the presence of fraud-relevant factors and the proper routing of events to the respective processes. Decisions must also be made as to whether a name or term is similar to a list entry or whether an event will turn into a costly affair.

Making optimal decisions - this is the challenge that companies from diverse industries face every day. This is where INFORM steps in to help with the software solution RiskShield. Generally speaking, RiskShield is a platform to support any decision-making process. Our daily business is the implementation of decision-making software and the consulting of our customers.

Within the last few months, I have had the great opportunity to review some RiskShield projects together with leading team members from the customer side. Some of the bespoke projects were complex, while others had a well-defined smaller scope. One thing was obvious: as individual as each customer is, many common aspects had to be considered in the implementation projects to make them successful. Therefore, I would like to point out eight crucial factors that make an implementation a success.

1. Clearly define the scope

Each customer has a different motivation for the project. Reasons might include the growing digitalization within an industry, strengthening competitiveness, focusing on customer service, cost reduction, a strategy change, to name a few. And yet, the motivation can always be traced back to the wish to make better decisions.

At first glance, these various motivations look very clearly defined and their importance seems evident. However, looking into the details that each dimension brings, it quickly becomes clear how many different aspects are involved. This diversity carries the risk of getting lost in details and of tackling too many challenges at once. That is why it is important to define goals precisely and to focus on them. My tip: start small and scale up.

2. Involve all stakeholders from the beginning

The motivations mentioned above and the implications on the different business aspects indicate how many stakeholders are affected within an organization.

Stakeholder management is invaluable for all implementation projects to align the project goals with the interests of those affected and involved. The more stakeholders are affected by a project, the more detailed stakeholder management must be carried out. The involvement of all stakeholders and the definition of joint goals assures a common understanding, a focused project, and a high acceptance of the implementation.

Other critical factors for a successful project are top management support and commitment. The implementation should not be treated as just another IT project but rather as a business case that will have consequences that impact workflows for a wide range of stakeholders.

All stakeholders should collaborate to communicate the importance of the implementation project and its benefits. The impact of the implementation on existing processes must be examined, and the resulting consequences for day-to-day business should be made clear and supported.

3. Risk reduction through a phased approach

Usually, the implementation of projects is done in parallel with the ongoing business routine. Therefore, it is helpful to split projects into phases, each of which can be completed independently. Compared to a "big bang strategy," a phased approach is easier to control and integrate into the daily work routine. Risks can be minimized and synergies maximized. Often, subsequent phases leverage from experience gained and lessons learned from previous phases, culminating in better results and success.

Phases do not necessarily have to be delimited by different application areas or lines of business. Partial functionalities or the introduction of different technologies can also define a phase.

4. Realistic planning

As described above, the introduction of software often affects many areas of an organization, and the implementation is done in parallel to the day-to-day business. Therefore, the project plan should be set up realistically, the capacities of the people involved and the departments affected must be taken into account.

No project benefits from continuously shifting timelines or pressure triggered by delays.

5. A trusting and positive atmosphere

Trust is a main pillar in every project: trust that the right people are involved, trust that each individual wants the best for the project and, of course, trust in the project success.

Also, trust is a crucial prerequisite for the interaction between the customer and solution provider. Trust shapes the relationship and interaction amongst all parties involved. A trusting and positive atmosphere between all project members offers a basis for open discussions, honest questions, and cooperative communication.

6. Standard solution vs. a customized solution

Plug and play solutions are very appealing because they are often inexpensive and can be implemented quickly. However, depending on the area of application, these solutions quickly reach their limits, as they cannot be sufficiently adapted to specific customer requirements.

Solutions that are available as a standard initial solution but which offer flexible customization options are optimal. With these solutions, rapid implementation is possible. Initial positive results can already be achieved based on the standard solution. In a second step, customization makes it possible to fine-tune and adapt the technology to the customer's needs.

7. Plan responsibilities after go-live

The implementation of decision-making software takes time, as interfaces have to be defined and connected, and systems have to be fine-tuned. However, the implementation does not end on the go-live date. Processes in the company change, data is subject to drift, patterns and modi operandi change, product definitions are modified. Once implemented, technology usually needs to be optimized and fine-tuned, again and again. Otherwise, the quality of the results will deteriorate. Therefore, it is necessary to define and assign responsibilities for business and IT-technical maintenance of the system from the very beginning.

8. Future-proof extensibility of solutions and reusability of technology

The evaluation process should address the future reliability of the technology. A solution may be just right for the current time. But if it cannot be adapted and is not developed further, the success of the project may be jeopardized in just a few months or years. It is important that solutions are constantly evolving, new trends are incorporated and changes relevant to the business case can be implemented.

Suppose the same software can be used in different areas of the company. In that case, the individual projects benefit considerably from each other, costs for purchase, training, maintenance, and support are reduced, and expert knowledge can be profitably reused.

Closing thoughts

Of course, the success of a project is not only based on these key learnings. However, if these are taken into account, a big step in the right direction has already been taken. If you are interested in reading how some of our customers approached their implementation projects, click here, here and here.



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About the author

  • Andrea Vieten

    As a Senior Business Consultant at INFORM GmbH, Andrea Vieten has been responsible for managing global implementation projects in the financial industry. With more than 10 years of experience, she has consulted and guided many financial institutions to the successful implementation of intelligent decision systems in the areas of risk, processes and compliance.

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