Don’t Choose Your Enterprise Case Management System Without Reading This!

Enterprise Case Management (ECM) in compliance space is a hot topic today. Institutions are focusing on ECM as a means to achieve productivity gains and win customers. I believe there are three primary drivers for this line of thinking:

  • Replacing a detection or transaction/activity monitoring system is costly and risky.  It is costly because you need to revamp everything from your data to your detection models.  It is risky because touching your models means drawing scrutiny from your regulators.
  • Institutions today have several detection systems and any consolidation strategy for the disparate detection systems is not practical for the reasons listed in the point above. Therefore, compliance stakeholders find enterprise case management to be the natural hub for executing their consolidation strategy. 
  • Over the course of last decade, practitioners have come to realize that compliance is still a people-intensive operation.  No matter the automation one puts in place, regulatory requirements mandate that detailed analysis and investigations be conducted by humans. This requirement lends its to a higher focus on your investigation and analysis platform.

There are very few financial institutions whose compliance and fraud management departments have not toyed with the idea of an enterprise case management strategy.  However, and unfortunately, very few institutions have tasted success in their strategy.  In most instances the strategy has not taken off the ground, and where it has seen some traction, it has ceased to be an enterprise play after an initial couple of iterations.  These institutions have started on this journey with a strong blueprint of end state and strategic vision; however a majority of them have failed when it comes to execution.

Very few institutions have successfully managed to design, invest, and execute an enterprise case management strategy and thereby reaped the benefits of their success.  This lack of success has resulted in once bullish financial crime management stakeholders shying away from the enterprise investigation strategy.  Their faith in an enterprise case management solution has disappeared.  That, in my opinion, is a big mistake because by abandoning an enterprise case management strategy, they are inadvertently making their job difficult, increasing their compliance costs and exposing themselves to financial crime perpetrators and regulators alike.

It is not rocket science

I believe institutions make their enterprise case management blueprint way more complicated than it should be.  An enterprise investigation does not require sophisticated technology.  Yes, it does demand a flexible and extensible solution, but that does not necessarily mean it requires a sophisticated, over-the-top next generation platform.  Several existing platforms, external and internal, can be employed effectively to meet the goals of enterprise case management.  I believe more than the technology and the tool, enterprise case management demands strong execution and strong program management discipline on part of the institution.

Figure 1: Components of Enterprise Case Management

The diagram to the left speaks to some of the must have components of an enterprise case management tool.  None of these components are new and ground breaking concepts.  They have been out there in the enterprise software industry for years and have been proven to deliver.  The key is to apply these concepts in context of financial crime investigations.

It is a journey, accept it

"Do you support Google-like search?”, “Will your system integrate with our business process management framework?” or “Does your case management system use our business rules framework?” are some of the queries I come across these days while talking about case management.  While these are not unreasonable questions, institutions and decision makers should recognize that their enterprise case management strategy does not fail because the tool they chose or the tool they built cannot support these functions.  In a nutshell, though it is acceptable and recommended to pursue these features in your target investigations platform, please do not consider them as key criteria for your tool selection or tool development process.  Instead, emphasize on:

  • The key components that we discussed above.
  • The team, internal and external, that will work on your project.
  • The different stake holders who will be using this system today and in the future. Are they onboard with the overall strategy?
  • The tool provider (if you are going with a vendor solution) and its appetite and willingness to work with you to help execute your strategy.

Figure 2: Iterative Process

There is enough benefit to drive you from putting your different functions of financial crime and compliance management on a single case management tool.  It is a journey.  Score the small wins first.  They will provide a very high return on investment and more importantly, they will provide a foundation to build your next generation, complex features and functions.

Work with your guinea pig

However broader and comprehensive an enterprise case management strategy may be, there is always that one group within the organization whose needs drive the project.  This group is desperately in need of a case management tool, and it is this group's success that will decide if your strategy will be successful.  It is needless to say that if you fail in your first step, your opportunity to execute your vision is lost.  This is where majority of the enterprise case management strategies fizzle out.  Therefore, this guinea pig is your most important partner in your strategy.  At the end of the first deployment, you want this guinea pig to be your champion. It has to be the object of envy amongst the different groups.  This will make it that much easier for you to execute.

  • Set the right expectations.
  • Understand the key pain points. Stay consistent with those pain points and don't get caught up in the feature/function frenzy.
  • Give their requirements priority and attention.
  • Define key performance metrics up front. This will help you quantify a clear return on investment once the project is live.

"What you see is what you get!!!"  Yeah Right!!!

Although this point is related to the first couple of points I discuss in this post, I believe it warrants its own section.

Have the competence, patience and tenacity to see and understand what is under the hood.

And I say this with passion.  When you are selecting a vendor, please spend time on proper due diligence.  Remember that a vendor’s perspective of what it takes to implement their tool will always vary from that of yours.  Do recognize that it is you and your institution that has to implement the system.  The vendor and its tool is just one piece of the puzzle, although an important one.  Going in with as much knowledge of the tool as you can garner during the selection process can make a difference between failure and success.  Do note that there is no silver bullet to getting an enterprise case management system implemented.

No one said executing an enterprise case management strategy was easy.  However, the upside of having a successful enterprise case management platform is high enough that it warrants some diligent planning and execution.  Institutions that have successfully achieved this goal or are on the path to achieve this goal are already reaping the benefits of their investment.  There is absolutely no reason for you to stay behind and not reap the rewards.

Gaurav Harode is the Sales Consulting Director for Financial Services Analytical Applications at Oracle. He can be reached at gaurav.harode AT oracle.com.

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