Last week, I explained the differences between platform and point technology solutions and made the case that platforms are generally more beneficial over the long term.
But not all platform solutions are created equal, and firms have to think carefully about the technology they are selecting before making the investment, especially when it comes to things like compliance, auditing and security.
One thing to look for is whether the vendor wants to provide a one-size-fits-all solution, or if it can tailor the product to fit your firm. Make sure that your platform provider provides a clear picture of your firm’s current processing workflows, discusses and advises you about your existing systems and vendor relationships, proposes a customized and integrated platform approach, and can configure its products to meet your firm’s current and future needs.
Also, any prospective platform system should be tested and proven to function properly. This means that your provider should have an established track record for providing a wide variety of implementations for firms like yours, and be knowledgeable about virtually every type of back-office setup. The prospective provider’s software should also be able to deliver pre-configured best practice workflows that your company can leverage to achieve more efficient workflow processes.
The platform you choose should be able to offer compliance reviews as well as workflow and audit trail services on a single system.
When it comes to security, look for a system that is secured using one point of risk and provides multi-layer application security, proprietary and patented technologies, hierarchical permissioned access and client data privacy. Your system should also be cloud-based to provide seamless access and secure storage for all who need it at any time, and to enable cost-sharing and scalability. The cloud should be private rather than public, offering a single-tenant environment where the hardware, storage and network are dedicated to a single company.
Your platform solution provider should deliver a fully hosted and secure software-as-a-service (SAAS) model and be able to host and manage the entire system, including regular upgrades and deployments. In addition, they should include backups and disaster recovery solutions that meet FINRA Business Continuity Plan requirements. Ideally, the solution should be configurable by your company and work seamlessly with your existing systems, innovations, enhancements and integrations.
Early in your relationship, your provider should prepare a definition and requirements analysis to define high-level business and technology requirements; identify stakeholders and their technology requirements, and your company’s strategic direction and implementation risks; develop business requirements and functional design; deliver test strategy groups, QA (Quality Assurance) reviews and high-level test cases; and obtain legal and compliance sign-offs.
In addition, the platform system provider you choose should develop a rollout strategy that includes your platform’s design, validated schema, confirmed compliance requirements and a verified Graphical User Interface that can function together with your existing systems.
Finally, collaboration is of the upmost importance. Your platform system provider should employ professionals who are not only experienced in all aspects of technology platforms, but also value ongoing collaboration with customers like your firm. If your system vendor and your staff work together to ensure the platform is fully optimized for your firm, then you have a much better chance of achieving the goals you set for your business at the start of the vendor relationship.