Treasury systems: How to avoid the curse of ‘implementation fatigue’
November 10, 2020
Have you ever been involved in a treasury system project? If you have, you will probably have experienced implementation fatigue. For those that haven’t, let me explain.
At the beginning of a treasury system implementation, the treasury team are energetic, enthusiastic and excited about the changes to come and how the solution will make the less interesting parts of their job go away.
But after a while that energy and enthusiasm fades as the team realises what is actually required to reach the promised land of a fully implemented solution. As things don’t quite go to plan they struggle to see beyond mounting implementation tasks, project meetings, bug fixes and change requests, while also having to do their day job.
Whatever vendors tell you, treasury system implementation projects can take months or even years to complete and somewhere in that timeframe your implementation team will reach their maximum stress level as timelines are pushed out and costs rise.
The results of this can vary. Most common is that the team focus on the bare minimum to get the project over the line, give a big sigh of relief and vow never to get involved in such a project again. This leaves nobody satisfied. Senior management are frustrated because they see high costs and limited benefit, the treasury team has a tool that gives them far less than they hoped and the system vendor has an unhappy client.
So, what can be done to avoid implementation fatigue?
The major challenge is often timing and resourcing. Too many corporates skimp on the time required to design and implement, sometimes encouraged by vendors who want to ensure a sale, and then assign people with day jobs into key project roles. Successful implementation projects normally have an augmented core team to ensure day-to-day activity is completed, business processes and ways of working are incorporated into the implementation and there is a high level of knowledge transfer.
Underpinning the resourcing must be a realistic project plan focussed on key needs and a credible budget. Many project plans are too generic, have timeframes that are too short and assume implementation costs that are too optimistic. Spending extra time if necessary, making sure the scope of the project is clearly defined, the end state design is agreed, and the phasing of the implementation is realistic, often saves time, cost and effort in the longer term. Also plan to have gaps between each phase and celebrate milestones and phase completion. Have people interested in technology lead the business team and build the implementation into their goals and appraisal.
And finally, remember even the best planned, best resourced and most effective projects experience bumps in the road and a degree of implementation fatigue. So be ready for it, be flexible and provide support to the team to make sure it is short lived.