A flexible approach to outsourcing in the financial services sector

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1 A flexible approach to outsourcing in the financial services sector A White Paper produced by Eversheds in association with Serco Global Services - February 2015

2 A flexible approach to outsourcing in the financial services sector Introduction In today s world, technology is moving very fast and this is having a dramatic impact on the way in which the providers of financial services are able to conduct their business. In so doing, all providers of financial services and their customers now want and expect to be able to interact with each other using the very latest digital channels and technologies. This is particularly the case in the financial services sector where financial institutions are dealing with the way in which technology is enabling on-line convenience banking particularly in relation to account management and digital payments. However, at the same time, all financial services institutions are facing the challenges which are related to regulatory compliance, an aging legacy IT infrastructure and a very competitive market where the need for cost control, efficiency and speed to market are paramount. In all of this, financial institutions (like most other businesses) now need to manage the way in which they interact with their customers in a consistent way across all digital and traditional channels and in a way which can adapt quickly to embrace the ever increasing capabilities of these channels. In addition, financial services institutions have long looked to outsourced service providers to help them manage and deliver services to customers. Historically, in the consumer orientated financial services markets, these services dealt with postal, telephone and activity separately and on the back of relatively stable expectations regarding technology. However, with the advent of mobile technology, all of this has now changed and all consumer focussed financial services businesses are looking to drive revenue, profit and competitive advantage through the rapid adoption and deployment of new technology and digital channels. Where we have come from Traditionally, an outsourcing of any BPO or ITO service has involved a number of distinct sequential phases which resulted in many months (if not years) of activity from project inception to the commencement of operational service activity. In addition, because of the impact of regulation, most financial services institutions have continued to use the traditional waterfall methodologies when procuring new BPO and ITO services. This is because the waterfall methodology is perceived as resulting in outcomes and costs which can be defined at the outset of the project. In so doing, most waterfall projects involve the following activities: Project inception a business takes the decision that it needs to outsource an activity. The business spends some time developing its requirements. The business prepares and issues an Invitation to Tender to a number of potential suppliers. The interested suppliers prepare Responses to Tender (including indicative solutions) which may contain their proposals regarding potential transformation.

3 The business evaluates the tenders and selects one or more preferred suppliers for detailed negotiations around the proposed solution, price and contractual terms until a contract is finally awarded to the successful supplier. These contracts are usually for 5 to 10 years and the services will include transition and ongoing operational services and, in many cases, a programme of transformation which is designed to implement an agreed programme of change. The parties transition the existing service to the new supplier who, from completion of the transition, takes over the provision of a business as usual operational service. At this point, nothing has changed in terms of the manner in which the services are delivered (other than the identity of the supplier). As such, the existing service provision may well have stagnated through lack of investment during the procurement phase (which could be as much as 2 years from beginning to end). The supplier starts the agreed programme of transformation to reflect the requirements of the business which were set out at the commencement of the procurement process. At the time of delivery, some of these requirements may well have been superseded by the impact of new technologies whilst the delivery of the planned transformation, in itself, may take over a year to complete. Once the transformation is complete, the supplier is often required to make suggestions regarding continuous improvements or innovation in technology or process which may be of interest to the customer. Regimes of gain share and benchmarking are also introduced post transformation to help the customer ensure that the services deliver value for money. At all times from contract award, a change control procedure allows for changes to be suggested, scoped and agreed by either party. The implications Traditional outsourcing projects take a long time to procure and implement. All of this means that many outsourcing arrangements may effectively be redundant by the time they start operation. This issue is becoming an increasing concern given the need to push for competitive advantage in a fast moving digital market place. In addition, the structured nature of the change control procedures often results in a time consuming and costly process to get matters changed. Both of these issues can easily result in dissatisfaction right from the outset because the contracted services do not reflect the impact of the new technologies and channels which have become available since the decision to outsource was taken. In addition, the contracts themselves are then slow to adapt and there can be a feeling that the costs of implementing the services spiral through the change control procedure. As a result some financial services institutions may be attracted by shorter contracts. However, this is not the answer because a short term contract will only ever deliver a fixed solution because it will be difficult for a supplier to justify making significant investments into the delivery of flexible solutions and/or the adaptation of new technology at as competitive a price as would be in the case with a longer contract. In addition, the services will be forever operating in an environment where the next procurement is being planned. Therefore, short contracts will create instability and will not encourage investment in the relationship.

4 A Traditional Outsourcing Planning Issue ITT Receive RTTs Down select Contract Award Hand Over Transformed Service Exit Phase Customer develops Requirements Supplier develops Proposal Customer evaluates RFP s and down selects Negotiation Transition and Migration Commencement of BAU operational services & commencement of transformation Commencement of transformed Operational Services possibly on a phased basis Change Control Contractual process Continuous Improvement Gain Share Benchmarking

5 Are output based measures the answer? Output based contracting is not new but it does require proper thought to be given to measurable outputs which can be used to measure performance and to calculate price. For example, in the context of customer experience management. most traditional outsourced service contracts will measure service inputs such as Average Handling Times (AHT) for calls to, in turn, measure performance and service credits. Whilst these Key Performance Indicator (KPI) measures may still have a place, they do not necessarily help a business measure the quality of the resulting customer experience. This is particularly the case where the subject matter of many calls is also changing. Here, the answers to most simple calls can now be resolved via web based services whilst the calls that are received are often for more complicated queries which can take time to resolve. Therefore, an AHT measure will drive the wrong supplier behaviour as the quality of the service delivered to a customer in relation to a complex question is more important than a quick average handling time, Here, KPIs such as AHT do not measure the output of the outsourced service in a way that necessarily meets the overall business goals. Whilst there is certainly a move to output based contracting, on the basis that a supplier is given flexibility to deliver the outputs in the way it considers best, most businesses are still keen to retain an interest in the how and will often be prescriptive about the manner in which the supplier goes about delivering the service. This is particularly the case in the financial services sector given the regulatory environment and the manner in which all financial services institutions are required to take responsibility for the way in which outsourced services are delivered given that they are the regulated provider. This in turn, reduces the supplier s opportunity to flex the manner in which the services are delivered. So, what is the answer? The speed of change is only increasing and, in this environment, the most flexible of businesses are likely to stand the best chance of success. In so doing, service providers and their customers must work to avoid the dissatisfaction traps of traditional outsourcing projects in terms of the late and over budget delivery of out of date solutions combined with a lack of flexibility. These issues can be avoided by applying some of the principles of Agile software development so as to create an outsourcing model which is specifically designed to evolve over the lifetime of the contract. This will meet the needs of the customer s business in a fast changing market whilst providing a contract structure which provides for the longer term assurance required for supplier investment. In addition, this model can also flex towards outcome based performance measures as the business needs and priorities change. What is Agile? In its pure form, Agile software development methodologies provide for working software to be developed quickly by joint teams which are tasked with creating a working solution to a specific business issue which can be implemented within a short period of time. Whilst this approach was created with software development in mind, there is no reason why it cannot be applied to a business process outsourcing project. In a pure sense, Agile software development projects feature the following characteristics: Iterative, short, frequent and incremental development cycles.

6 Requirements and solutions being developed in tandem though collaboration between the supplier and its customer so as to ensure the rapid development of working solutions which are fully aligned to customer needs. Adaptive and flexible planning, development and delivery. Looking at this in more detail, an Agile development process (based on the SCRUM methodology) involves: A set of business goals are defined at the outset which constitute the Vision of the project. A development project is divided into a number of so called Sprints, each of which are designed to deliver a particular piece of software via iterative and collaborative working practices utilising joint teams made up of supplier and customer representatives. The collection of Sprints is referred to as the Backlog an unfortunate term - but this is effectively the menu of all items of software which are to be delivered to meet the Vision of the project as understood at the outset. Each Sprint will involve a time bound set of collaborative activities which involve planning, design, coding, testing and deployment which are carried out simultaneously rather than sequentially. As such, the results of each Sprint are tested in real time with the objective that each Sprint is delivered in the form of working software which can be used by the customer there and then. The fact that the Project is divided into a number of Sprints means that the development team focus on one Sprint at a time and that the results of each Sprint build iteratively on each other. However, another key feature of an Agile project is that the order of the Sprints can be changed to reflect changing business priorities and, in fact, some proposed Sprints can simply be deleted from the Backlog if no longer required whilst new Sprints can be added to the Backlog as requirements and priorities evolve. In so doing, there is no need to refer to a change control procedure. Rather, the sequence in which the software (or business process) is developed can be varied as a business priorities change whilst new features and requirements can be slotted in at any time. In so doing, no effort will have been wasted in delivering Sprints which are not called off from the Backlog and new Sprints can be added to the Backlog as new requirements arise through the life of the project without the need for complex change control procedures. All of the above requires close co-operation and project governance between the customer and the supplier. Applying Agile methodologies to an outsourcing contract Up until recently, financial services institutions have been nervous about Agile because of the following concerns: A preference to define all requirements and their associated costs up front In financial services, the consequences of any failures can be huge in terms of reputation and cost particularly when the services relate to payments and financial services institutions require rigorous systems testing and documentation to be able to satisfy its audit and regulatory requirements. For similar reasons, change control processes tend to be rigorous.

7 Because of the existence of multiple IT systems within most financial institutions, any interfaces between these systems and any new systems must be very carefully defined. Agile systems developments can result in the involvement of multiple teams across a project with the inherent risk that efforts will not be co-ordinated. However, on the flip side, financial services institutions are also realising that the traditional waterfall model does not suit those projects or elements of a project where a lighter touch and more responsive approach is required. Arguably, this is particularly the case with the many digital applications which are being created as a means of financial services institutions dealing with their customers via PC s and, increasingly, mobile and tablet devices. In addition, all too often, waterfall projects come in late and over budget and these issues do not come to light until too late into the project whilst new technology moves on at pace Thus, even if the solution works as required, it won t delight those customers who want to interact with their financial services provider using the latest technology. In the same way that Agile is well suited to developing software applications, it can also be adapted to work in relation to outsourcing projects. Whilst the transition phases of a project should not be procured using Agile methodologies, it is certainly possible to utilise Agile methodologies during any transformation phase and to continue these practices through the life of the contract so as to always keep the solution as fresh as possible. This, in turn, mitigates against the risk that traditionally delivered services will be seen as out of date from the outset or during the life of the contract. This, in turn means that: When procuring any outsourced services, thought should be given to the following key stages: Transition in terms of transitioning Business As Usual (BAU) services from the customer or an incumbent service provider, it is still necessary to plan the required activities in much the same way as in any traditional project; Core Transformation there may be certain activities which must happen in a particular way and by a pre-determined time. For example, this may apply to the implementation of new systems or processes to address certain must have requirements which are known at the outset and which are fundamental to the whole project. It may also apply, to a large extent, in relation to the delivery of services which must meet specific regulatory requirements and if the outsourced services need to interface to legacy IT infrastructure in a particular way. Either way, if the requirements are clearly identified at the outset and if a solution can be fixed at the outset, these core transformational requirements can still be procured in a traditional sense although there may well be opportunities to refine some elements of any solution utilising Agile processes. In addition, Agile processes can also be used to evolve these services during the life of the contract; and Agile Transformation for many new items of service delivery and/or technology, a purely agile approach can be taken to their implementation and, in so doing, some elements of an outsourced solution can flex as channels and technologies evolve through the life of the contract. Thus, by delivering elements of the transformation via Agile procedures, the originally planned transformation activities can be easily flexed as some of the original requirements become redundant and/or new ways of delivering the outsourced service evolve. Therefore, the methods of delivering the outsourced service can be adapted quickly to respond to changing technologies and these changes can be implemented incrementally and quickly as the business decides how to respond to the full potential of the new technology. In addition, there is no reason why this way of working

8 cannot continue through the life of the contract. In so doing, this will reduce the risk of the outsourced services being delivered in a way that is out of step with what the business needs at any stage during the life of the contract. New commercial and contractual arrangements need to be created so as to allow for Agile delivery. Essentially, these arrangements will relate to: the contractual processes for delivering Agile solutions; and dealing with the financial consequences of delivering Agile solutions. The adoption of Agile working practices ensures that longer term outsourced service contracts can deliver lasting value which can utilise the latest technologies whilst avoiding the risk of short term contracting. The problem with shorter contracts is that the services (and people) will constantly be being transitioned from one provider to another (which is costly and inefficient in itself) whilst a short term contract will also mean that the customer will only ever receive the service that can be defined at the outset of such contracts. In addition, even with a short term solutions, the solution could still be 12 months or more out of date by the time the service is delivered. In order to succeed (for both customer and supplier) in a multi-channel or indeed omnichannel digital environment, outsourced solutions and services need to be able to continually adapt to the new priorities on the business they serve. This can mean making new services or new channel operations available quickly. It may also mean changing the mix of service or even reducing certain functions which relate to technologies which become redundant. For example, as more basic customer enquiries are dealt with on-line, the role of and requirements for those who used to handle those calls will change. In so doing, perhaps the only certainty is that the service mix at the start of an outsourced relationship is very likely to be different to be the service mix when the relationship and contract reaches its renewal point. To protect and regulate the interests of both the supplier and its customer in new outsourcing arrangements where the end solution cannot be defined at the start of the contract, new commercial and contractual models must be created, utilised and fully understood by both parties. Making the new partnership models work will of course be challenging from an operational, commercial and contractual perspective. However, this is possible. For example, the following structure can work: the contract can define the operational services, service level regime and charges as they apply to the BAU services as at the time of transition; the operational service descriptions, service levels and charges, as affected by the core transformation activities, can also be agreed up front (as is the case in a traditional outsourcing deal); before commencing any developments on an Agile basis, clear protocols are agreed with regard to regulatory matters, interface requirements, common development standards, testing and so on; the baseline service descriptions, service levels and charges can be varied by the application of each Sprint in ways which are agreed whilst the Sprint is being delivered as based upon the high level objectives for each Sprint which are agreed at the outset; if the supplier is to invest in Agile developments through the life of the contract, the cost of the resulting activity needs to be recoverable. In an Agile software development, these

9 costs are typically paid for on a time and materials basis as each Sprint is delivered. However, it is also possible to construct a model whereby either the development time or the development effort is fixed at the outset of each Sprint. In addition, the funding for all Sprints which can be ordered in each contract year can be agreed at the beginning of each contract year on the basis of total affordability with the costs being built into the operational service charges via a process of smoothing. Of course, should additional changes be required, the required funding can be separately agreed; the Backlog of potential Sprints can be refreshed in real time through the life of the contract with a forward view being taken of the likely funding costs and on the basis that no money will have been wasted in accepting functionality that is no longer required. This allows for quick changes to be made as technologies and business requirements evolve; it is quite likely that the Agile transformational activity will have an impact on the core operational services, for example in terms of the volume of voice calls that need to be handled. Here, at the outset, the contract may contain assumptions regarding the expected impact on particular channels and the numbers of staff and/or seats which are required to service the contract. These expected changes can be built into the pricing and resourcing models (along with any agreed tolerances) whilst the impact of any exceptional changes on such resourcing requirements (over and above any agreed flex and/or tolerances) will need to be agreed via change control. Applying this to an outsourcing project, a budget can be established for all transformational activity which is to be conducted on an Agile basis for, at least, for a 12 month period. Then, the Agile transformations which are to be called off in that period can managed within agreed budgets (accepting that the actual costs may vary from the budget). In addition, it should also be recognised that if the core assumptions of the deal change, the impact on the supplier s fixed investments need to be considered; and it might be possible to consider a commercial arrangement whereby the supplier may take some of the risks of funding some changes on the basis that the changes will drive increased volumes and/or profits.

10 An Agile Outsourcing approach Phase Contract Award Handover and BAU Service Core Services Transformation Expiry Transition and Migration BAU Operational Services BAU Charges Transformed Services New Service Levels BAU Service Levels New Pricing Core Requirements (Fixed) Property and Staff transfers Transformation Core Technology Platform and Functions (especially for regulated businesses) Consider Agile validation to flush out Requirements In parallel with the transition, BAU and core transformation activities, specific improvements to the Services can be implemented via Agile processes at any time during the life of the contract. In sumamry, the contract will need to reflect the following issues: Variable requirements (Agile) Establish and manage joint teams via strong governance Establish a process to refine the requirements, dependencies and likely costs of each Sprint before the Sprint is called off from the Backlog Flexible procedures to deal with changing priorities and emerging technology in so doing, the Backlog should be managed through the life of the contract so as to prioritise and reprioritise the proposed Sprints as business priorities evolve Agile processes allow for early wins which deliver business benefits and value early and throughout the life of the contract Agile processes keep the customer engaged and locked into the continual evolution of the solution and services in such a way that ensures that the same are always up to date Need to document and track the impact of the results of any Sprints on the service descriptions, core resources, service levels and charges carefully Need to consider how the costs of implementing each Sprint will be funded, for example by way of calling off funds from an agreed investment fund, the cost of which is built into the pricing model and smoothed though the life of the contract

11 Conclusion the Key Characteristics of a Future-proof Solution In constructing outsourced service contracts to be future-proof, careful consideration should be given to: Defining the core base services that will remain true through the life of the contract. Defining any key parameters regarding regulatory matters, interface requirements and common development standards Create an Agile framework for flexing the services around the core in a way that will ensure that the core services can be adapted and evolved quickly so as to enable the parties to take full advantage of new technologies and channels. This framework will define: the Agile processes by which parties will work together to flex the services so as to adapt to new channels and technologies through the entire life of the contract; a process for agreeing how the core resources may be affected; and a framework for pricing the development of new solutions via Agile processes in a way that promotes financial and risk certainty for both the supplier and the customer. For more information contact: Simon Jones Partner Eversheds Direct Dial : International Direct Dial: Mobile: Helen Staniszewski Business Development Director Serco Global Services Mobile:

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