The Value of Multicountry Implementations
Igor Szabados, Alfa's Head of Business Development EMEA, discusses the advantages of multicountry implementations and how they have positively impacted our customers.
As we enter the month of May, we see governments ease the lockdown and companies start discussion about the “new normal”. Recently I’ve been contacted by a European organisation who have used this confinement to prepare for the period afterwards and, as they put it, “already see the light at the end of the tunnel”. Among the topics they have been discussing is multicountry implementation strategies.
May is also a work anniversary for me as I started my professional career twenty years ago, when an internship turned into a job offer. As I reflect on these two decades I realise that some of the most interesting professional experiences I had were seeing complex multicountry roll-outs succeed. I have decided to summarise my findings and share what I have seen as the values for asset finance companies.
An uncoordinated past
Many asset finance operations are distributed across multiple geographies. In the past when such companies were entering new markets, they had little or no choice of specialised finance software to manage the new business units. Solutions weren’t sufficiently sophisticated to support the various asset types and transaction sizes, especially not in a multicountry environment that demands local management of tax, currencies, regulatory requirements and depreciation.
As these multinational organisations grew, they often used different systems in different markets - some of course more stable than others. Some chose a local approach, but the best-run businesses operate systems that traverse these boundaries despite the fundamental differences between them.
Time for consolidation?
Over time, as these local subsidiaries continued to implement and upgrade their local solutions, the headquarters realised that the costs were growing; that this fragmented approach requires continuous investment in different ways, including maintenance and support costs in multiple jurisdictions, as well as frequent head-office attention. Where possible, organisations started to standardise, but today many successful organisations are still blocked by a complex network of systems.
The good news is that, by making the right choices in technology, infrastructure and process, it is now an achievable goal to manage a successful multicountry roll-out. Alfa has helped many such companies to achieve this, especially within Europe, and each very different in its requirements. The benefits are clear and highly valued by those clients.
The benefits of consolidation
When organisations with multiple entities embark on discussions about the consolidation of systems, some are discouraged by failed projects in the industry, while others prefer smaller, regional, or sub-regional solutions to reduce their risk and dependence on a provider. Typically, multinational roll-outs identify these primary business objectives:
- Simplification of the system landscape
- Standardisation of the processes and centralisation of reporting and BI
- Migration onto the same database, in order to reduce the pain and cost of running multiple systems
For some truly global organisations, the ability to host in the cloud and provide 24x7 support are also among the primary goals. Those operations have a clear competitive advantage in their ability to originate deals across geographic borders, launch new asset finance programmes in parallel in multiple markets, offer usage-based services, and monitor cross-company customer risk for better credit decisions.
One of our valued North American clients was looking for a stable and highly configurable system, with a modern technology stack to be able to migrate different portfolios onto a single system of over 1m contracts. As they are in multiple countries, it also required a practical segregation of data by country and by brand.
Two of our multicountry operations, both of which are in auto and equipment finance, are in the Nordic region. Here, multicurrency operations are considered standard, but we have developed other advanced local requirements, particularly in the area of Nordic floating rate contracts.
Recently we have completed a project with an equipment manufacturer to produce a series of specialised front ends for their commercial operations in three European markets. While the user journey is similar for each, specific customer data that must be captured to satisfy local credit decisioning is very different, and each is being worked into the platform from a different legacy system. The client has appreciated the seamless interaction with these external systems.
Thanks to a well-documented system and extensive training programme, Alfa provides clients with self-sufficiency as they grow and expand. One global bank is running on Alfa in 10 countries, and they are adding more countries each year without our assistance. Adding a new market or financial product doesn’t need to be a punishing effort; while starting up a green-field operation should be straightforward - and most importantly a task that can be done by the client. Why would you need to rely on your vendor if you can launch such operations yourself?
Another of the current implementations we are working towards, for a major transportation business, is joining 14 countries on the same database across Western and Eastern Europe. One of the key business goals of this Client is to reduce the time to market. Meanwhile we have started work with a Tier 1 European bank which has started a full roll-out throughout seven western European countries. This household name chose Alfa based on our strong multicountry credentials.
All of our multicountry clients take a great interest in best practice and are looking for new ways to achieve their goals, so they tend to be important contributors to our User Group. We’re proud that our clients stay active through the User Group and have a tangible input to the product roadmap, and frequently influence the commercial direction taken by its members.
Igor Szabados is Head of Business Development EMEA at Alfa Financial Software. Igor has a breadth of international sales and business development experience, as well as a unique understanding of complex multicountry roll-outs.
If you’d like to discuss these operations, or how Alfa can help your business traverse boundaries and evolve your operations, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.