On May 13, RIMES hosted a webinar on the subject of Lean Data Management. The webinar panel comprised Carolyn Baker, Head of Data Management and Governance at Jupiter Asset Management; Jonathan Hammond, Partner at Sionic; and Diarmuid O’Donovan, Chief Operating Officer at RIMES Technologies. The discussion was moderated by Andrew Barnett, Global Head of Product Strategy at RIMES. What follows is a summary of the key points raised during the debate.
Lean Data Management in context
Drawing on Toyota’s philosophy, which promotes a “constant focus on the elimination of all waste in pursuit of the most efficient” workflow, RIMES has embedded Lean Data Management principles into the charter for its Managed Data Services. These principles outline what good data management looks like and include:
- The constant evolution of the service in the light of new learnings.
- The design and delivery of the service by former practitioners.
- Incentives to improve through Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and constant feedback from customers.
- Customer-focused, empathetic service delivery.
- A reduction in waste through cloud-based, no-install delivery.
- A consumption based commercial model that aligns the business cases with the service delivery.
Investment firms’ data management requirements
When it comes to selecting an approach to data management, no two firms will have exactly the same requirements. However, there are some commonalities, including the need for lean services that improve continuously, and vendor partners that are truly connected to the business and understand the firm’s challenges inside and out. Waste reduction is also crucial, and can be achieved through highly tailored services that reduce the movement of data around various systems and bring data as near to the point of use as possible.
In the past, data management operations could be unwieldy. Different teams were in charge of different elements of the data journey such as data sourcing, data validation, data delivery and quality control. For small firms based in just one country there was no way to scrub data overnight, which could lead to operational delays in the event of quality issues (a challenge larger firms have avoided through “follow the sun” support models where colleagues in different time zones work on data overnight).
Times are now changing. With the squeeze on margins firms are considering new operating models, something which technological advances have enabled. Lean managed data services are starting to look like a promising proposition. However, a danger remains that as firms look to modernize, they will get bogged down in technology considerations, rather than on what matters most: the underlying use case. As firms look to overhaul their data management capabilities, keeping the business requirements front and center of planning is critical.
Creating and maintaining executive buy-in for a data management strategy
One element of success in building and maintaining buy-in for a new data management strategy is to ensure that the strategy is communicated widely across the enterprise. A committee should then be set up with representation from across the organization and tasked with ensuring that the strategy evolves correctly and with proper governance. The committee will help maintain momentum and provide an important forum for people to challenge the strategy and help improve it.
Where the executive has a good understanding of the importance of data it is much easier to maintain a strategy. In these cases, the focus can settle on what’s really important: joining up data across the firm and using this data for insights and to empower the front office. During this process, all users of data should have a role in decision making. For instance, working groups can be established so front office employees can give their views on which systems and data sets the firm needs to invest in.
For their part, Chief Data Officers and Head of Data should look to take a multifaceted approach that incorporates an understanding of the business, data management requirements and a consideration of the challenges faced by operational staff.
Most executives now understand the need for a data strategy, but what is less obvious is what a good data strategy looks like and how it can be measured. Data professionals need to be able to demonstrate how a data strategy will move the dial on business issues, and for this goal measurement is critical. The aim should be to demonstrate the return on investment that the data strategy delivers.
Understanding the core business and delineating operational boundaries
For most investment managers, core business activities will come down to investment management and distribution – everything else can be seen as a non-core service to that end that can either be managed in house or outsourced.
When deciding what to outsource, it’s important to note that no one service will fit all parts of the business. There are multiple solutions out there, and organizations need to consider how these fit together as a whole. Firms also need to focus on finding scalable and agile approaches to meeting their needs. As a result of this, the direction of travel for data management is increasingly the managed services route. With a good contract in place, most firms will see a lower total cost of ownership with managed data services compared to in-house alternatives.
However, outsourcing decisions should be made on the basis of business enablement as well as cost reduction. These benefits can be difficult to quantify, but at heart they come down to one thing: can the data management function deliver high quality data to all necessary business users at the moment they need it? Outsourced service providers need to be able to demonstrate their impact through meeting SLAs and demonstrating continuous improvement, as per the Lean Data Management principles.
Working in partnership, firms and their service providers can find an operating model where there’s no waste or replication of services and where the service can adapt and scale as required. This is the basis of a true strategic partnership.
RIMES has changed. Contact us to learn more about our ground-breaking approach to data management and how it can help your firm differentiate and grow.
Click here to watch the full recording.
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