SkySparc’s Upgrade as-a-Service in action

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Mission control for mission-critical technology

The Challenge

The mission-critical role of financial services technology

Technology is mission-critical for banks and financial services firms’ operations, risk management and customer experience. The technology platforms used by banks become deeply embedded in how they operate and their teams’ work. Even a seemingly simple upgrade project, if not expertly managed, could result in unintended negative knock-on impacts. Mismanaged deployment risks range from inaccurate integration with other platforms to staff needing to fully understand the new processes and procedures to operate the updated kit.

Many and varied internal and external specialists must be consulted with or directly involved in bank technology projects, which can be time-consuming and introduce risk to upgrades. So perhaps it is unsurprising that 50% of banks put off upgrading their IT. 1

But in an industry built on technology, where the pace of innovation and security challenges are developing at pace, banks and financial services firms cannot afford to delay upgrades to the systems their businesses and customers rely upon. And as almost 60% of CEOs perceive digital initiatives as taking too long to complete 2, technologists and IT teams are under pressure to deliver to compressed timelines.

Countdown to upgrade launch commences

Swedbank sought to deploy the additional operational elements, customer experience driving functionality, and futureproofing utility by updating the Murex platform they rely on daily. They wanted to upgrade and fast.

Within a six-month window, they aimed to have an enhanced Murex platform fully embedded in their organization and take full advantage of the additional features to manage market risks within the “Market Risk Box” or MRB, connect data and transaction interfaces, complete end-of-day processing, and monitor positions via LiveBook.

Swedbank knew that for the project to be successful and the risks associated with upgrades mitigated, this could not just be a technology-centric project. It would also need to be a human-centric project. Swedbank needed to ensure that while all the technical contingencies and platform dependencies were identified and managed, they also retained sight of the human side of digital change. They needed to address operational process change and user training while coordinating across teams with different expertise and skill sets.

The SkySparc Solution

Bringing a Flight Director to the Control Room

SkySparc quickly deployed Murex expertise to lead Swedbank’s upgrade project, bringing a powerful combination of technical capabilities and project management know-how.

Given the need to coordinate and connect across internal systems, users and stakeholders, including traders, product controllers and technology teams, as well as external parties, including technology vendors, data providers and trade venues, SkySparc, as with the Flight Director, was able to ensure that each team played their specific part in the overall, coordinated launch effort.

In addition, as the Murex platform is a vital cog in Swedbank’s operations, including its use to deliver a range of sophisticated financial products, such as non-linear derivates and structured transactions, working with traders and analysts was vital. SkySparc, utilizing OmniFi, ensured that numerical reconciliations and assessments of economic data deviations continued to be accurately reflected in Swedbank's pricing and products. Had this not been the case, a misfiring upgrade's financial and reputational consequences would have been significant.

SkySparc works closely with clients across the project lifecycle, from initial planning to deployment and post-implementation review. Further, SkySparc believes in the importance of the final mile, completing a comprehensive handover to ensure the Swedbank team was ready to make the most of their new version of Murex. Only then is SkySparc’s work complete.

How SkySparc brought the powerful combination of technology and project management expertise to Swedbank’s Murex upgrade

Technology Management
  • Bringing technical expertise in the features and functionality of the Murex platform.
  • Identifying and managing the technical dependencies and interoperability between Murex and the other components of Swedbank's IT architecture.
  • Re-designing and mapping processes to ensure Swedbank’s operational team can fully leverage the upgrade Murex platform.
  • Conducting and validating UAT and SIT to ensure continued system accuracy post-upgrade.
Project and Change Management
  • Bringing a depth of direct project management experience with the Murex platform.
  • Managing project plans and working group meetings.
  • Coordinating and connecting internal and external subject matter experts, stakeholders, and implementation team members.
  • Managing communications and staff training.
  • Conducting a full post-implementation review and completing a comprehensive handover and knowledge transfer.
What sets SkySparc apart and made them a vital part of our project team is this combination of a real depth of knowledge of the Murex system, together with an efficient yet considered project management approach. Working with the team from SkySparc meant any deployment risks were covered off, and that we were able to fully leverage the additional features and functionality of our upgraded Murex platform.

Lennart Skarin, Business System Owner, Swedbank

The Results

Lift off, and touch down

Working with SkySparc meant that Swedbank could complete their upgrade on time, within the target six-month window. Further, due to a focus on UAT and SIT, Swedbank upgraded without any distribution to operations or issues with processing.

The additional features and functionality of the upgraded Murex platform have enabled Swedbank to continue to service clients efficiently and effectively. With financial services technology developing rapidly, the new instance of Murex is also future-ready for when the time comes for Swedbank to upgrade again.

Further, the upgrade enabled Swedbank to take a significant step toward process automation, replacing several manual processes with more accurate and efficient set-and-forget operations.

With these types of upgrades, involving mission critical platforms like Murex, with pressing delivery timeframes, we believe the best approach is to be fully embedded with the client, and work with them across the full project life cycle

Stellan Råberg, Head of Murex Practice, SkySparc