Taking an agile approach with Fusion5 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
“On Day One of go-live Fusion5 gave us a system that we could use effectively across the business. It was fantastic.”Mel Hewitson, Head of GIO, Trustees Executors
Established in 1881, Trustees Executors Limited provides a full range of financial and trust services to individuals and the corporate sector as a Licensed Financial Markets Supervisor.
Trustees Executors’ Governance and Investor Oversight (GIO) business unit provides independent oversight over organisations who seek funds from the public.
Trustees Executors is a licensed supervisor and/or trustee of Managed Investment Schemes, such as KiwiSaver, superannuation schemes, unit trusts and group investment funds, debt securities, retirement villages, forestry, marina and other participatory security issues, and non-bank deposit takers such as finance companies, credit unions, and building societies.
The Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 (FMCA) governs how financial products are created, promoted and sold. The Act required all fund managers, discretionary investment management service providers and derivatives issuers to meet new governance and capability standards before 1 December 2016.
As part of the move into a new regulatory regime, GIO, and its clients, had to undertake and account for a significantly wider range of tasks than before.
Because of the importance of their front-line governance role supervising issuers of securities, GIO decided to review and update their technology systems and tools to streamline and support their complex business processes.
Trustees Executors set up ‘Project Watchtower’ to provide GIO with comprehensive CRM and workflow management capabilities, including tailored monitoring capabilities, and pro-active and forward-looking processes. The overall system has to let GIO monitor what securities issuers are promising their investors against the actions they take, and what they deliver.
Mel Hewitson, Head of GIO, saw Project Watchtower as an opportunity to say goodbye to filing cabinets, manual processes and disparate legacy databases, and say hello to a single source of truth with automated, streamlined workflows. And most importantly, it could leave the GIO team more time to focus on their industry ‘watchdog’ role instead of following paper trails.
“Our monitoring work is very complex,” Hewitson said. “There's a many-to-many relationship between the risks that we’re trying to mitigate for end investors, and the monitoring activities that we need to undertake to address those risks, including hardcopy files. A linear, unintegrated filing system just wasn't going to cut it. We needed something far more sophisticated.”
Trustees Executor’s GIO team developed a functionality wish-list for Watchtower and went to market in mid-2016. At a high level, they needed a well-known and trusted off-the-shelf solution, requiring minimal configuration and coding, that would simply ‘do the job.’
“We didn’t want anything custom-built,” said Hewitson, “so we needed a partner who was fully aware of that. And ideally, would be able to work with us in an agile way.”
Three well-known solutions were shortlisted.
Trustees Executors already had a Microsoft-centric technology environment, and the company gravitated back to a platform they knew and trusted. Fusion5 impressed the GIO team with their enthusiasm and knowledge and a solution which combined Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint.
“We took a lot of factors into account in choosing Fusion5 as our partner,” said Hewitson. “As well as keen pricing, they seemed to be genuinely interested in our business. They showed enthusiasm to work with us and were very engaged. They had an ‘X Factor’ that some of the other partners just didn’t have.”
Fusion5 recommended an agile methodology as a better option than a fixed price implementation, and Hewitson – a happy veteran of several agile projects - and her team, agreed. Fusion5’s physical proximity to the GIO offices made the proposal to take an agile approach even more compelling.
“If you don’t go through an agile process you can end up with something you don’t actually want. That was a risk we weren’t prepared to take. I've worked in agile projects before – and so had our IT people. It was absolutely the right decision. And being able to just walk across the road to meet with Fusion5 was an unexpected bonus.”
Hewitson said the agile approach was a success and delivered a better, more functionality-rich solution than anticipated. “We knew the basics of what Dynamics CRM and SharePoint could do, but the Fusion5 team’s knowledge meant that they were able to suggest functionality that we didn’t even know about, and hadn’t dared hope we could have as part of the Watchtower solution.”
Hewitson said the working relationship between the GIO team and Fusion5’s team was excellent. “They were absolutely amazing, and I really mean that. I’ve been busy recommending them to other people.”
“Our own team was very enthusiastic. We knew what we wanted, but we aren’t experts. Fusion5’s project manager is incredibly structured. She kept us on track and pushed back in the nicest possible way when we needed it. She was very successful in understanding our business, and what we needed to achieve.”
“No idea was a bad idea with Fusion5. Even if we found that the work which had been done wasn’t quite what we wanted, there was no resistance about going back to the drawing board. It was all about improving the solution – which we really appreciated. They were incredibly easy to work with.”
With the agile approach, phase one of Project Watchtower ran across five sprints, each lasting for two weeks. It was delivered on time, and with more extensive functionality than expected.
The GIO’s disparate databases are now consolidated in one place. Their document management process no longer includes filing paper or manually saving documents to one of the company’s drives. There’s no risk of documentation being duplicated or lost because it’s all in a central repository.
The original solution proposed by Fusion5 included a client portal, and Hewitson is keen to roll this out. Leveraging SharePoint’s powerful document management and workflow automation capabilities is also high on the agenda.
“Our next phase of work is about helping us to be more efficient, and adding value for our clients. Instead of our clients emailing us a report which we then have to manually upload as a case into the CRM, the portal will enable them to upload their information electronically into Watchtower. Eventually, we want to be at the stage where we can automatically generate reports to speed up the financial analysis process.”
But for now, at the end of phase one, Hewitson is delighted with Watchtower and Fusion5. “On Day One of go-live Fusion5 gave us a system that we could use effectively across the business. It was fantastic.”