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Case Studies

Foreign Currency Fulfillment - UK Clearing Bank

Overview

The acquisition of a major bank created the need to integrate two businesses and their respective IT systems. Post integration, the merged banking group required a single service offering in the area of foreign currency ordering and fulfillment, specifically:

The sale of foreign currency & Travelers Cheques;

The purchase of the foreign currency.

Foreign currency services were to be offered through the multiple channels, harmonised as part of an Integration Programme.  Fulfillment of foreign currency orders was provided by a 3rd party business partner inherited from the acquired bank.

An Order Hub, was conceived to provide the integrated solution. 

Approach

Foreign currency fulfillment was outsourced to a 3rd party. This inferred a ‘pseudo scheme’ with defined operating characteristics and a specific interface supporting the orders. The foreign currency orders were analogous to payments instruments and consequently the design considerations were similar to that of an industry payments scheme integration.  

Impact to channels systems were time consuming to address and thus it was desirable to keep these to a minimum.  The interface formats to and from the channels were therefore preserved. The Order Hub provided validation, transformation and  routing and some limited business functionality, such as limits validation.  

Payments Hub - UK Clearing Bank

Overview

A UK clearings bank was undertaking a core product system replacement programme.  The bulk of the bank's products were supported through a heritage system having the typical associated constraints, simplistically:

Unresponsiveness to changes in the marketing environment due to constrained lifecycle and deployment windows;

‘Knowledge monopoly’ by an outsourced supplier managing the heritage application, further limiting ability to deliver timely changes.

The timing of the programme was soon after the financial liquidity crisis (aka the ‘credit crunch’). Consequently there was a heightened sense of concern relating to the risk exposure of the bank.  This was further amplified due to a large portion of its payments business being with Agency Banks.  In this respect the bank was making payments on behalf of many other banks but only settling with them some time after the daily settlement cycle. 

The bank also underwent a merger with another financial institution.  This further emphasised the need to facilitate payments to multiple product systems in the short to medium term.

Approach

A Payments Hub was conceived as the solution to the payments processing requirements.  Key design drivers were to support the phased rollout of the new package based product engine, specifically:

To support a limited set of payment schemes required by the savings products initially; namely credit transfers. Then transitioning to a richer set of schemes to support current accounts, including cheque clearing and debit card schemes;

To support the actual account migration, switching user payments from the heritage product system to the new one, triggered by a scheduled migration date.

There were commercial drivers to utilise the ‘out of the box’ package features available so as to minimise development costs associated with customisation.  In this respect, the ‘package principle’ was to be applied to ensure that the features of the new core banking platform were leveraged.  However, some of the capabilities required in the proposed Payments Hub were available in the package. The placement of that capability in the Payments Hub or in the Product engine was a major source of architectural tension in the solution.

Estimating Assurance - Central Government

Overview

A major e-government programme was being undertaken by a tier-1 systems integrator for a Central Government Department.  The programme was the first of its kind for the Department. As part of a value for money exercise the Department required assurance that estimates for a large programme, and ultimately pricing, were appropriate and fair. 

Approach

Initial workshops established a thorough understanding of the architecture employed by the systems integrator.  Two estimating approaches were then adopted:

  1. Function point counting;
  2. Work breakdown structure (Prince II).

Estimates for specific activities in the work breakdown structure were established based on experience of delivering projects of similar size and complexity.  Core estimates for Code and Unit Test (CUT) were then extrapolated to obtain full lifecycle estimates.

The approach adopted was transparent to all parties and used established industry metrics.  This allowed areas of discrepancy to be identified and discussed.

Security Assurance - Major UK Retailer

Overview

A major UK retailer was developing a new business to business (B2B) portal for use by its suppliers.  The solution was designed and developed by a 3rd party systems integrator.  Assurance was required that the security solution and associated controls were fit for purpose.

Approach

An asset based risk assessment approach was adopted.  Using this approach the solution 'information assets' were established. Complementing this, a detailed understanding of the systems architecture was determined. Essential Use Cases were identified to establish the flow of the assets through the system enabling a threat/risk assessment to be made.    The security solution was evaluated against a security reference architecture framework comprising several security sub-systems (Audit / Information Flow / Identity Management / Access Control).  

Given the threats identified, an assessment of the appropriateness of the counter-measures adopted in the solution was then able to be made.   Additional mitigations and counter-measures were recommended where necessary.

 
Copyright © 2011 Triari Consulting
Last modified: February 20, 2011