In years gone by, once it became clear for banks and other cash handling businesses that IT could help them manage their cash supply chain for lower costs, the question arose: Build or Buy? Sometimes believing their business processes were somehow unique, but mainly finding themselves without a product in the market that was tailored to their needs, often the conclusion was to build – and they started developing their own bespoke software. In many cases, they integrated components of the available software vendors at the time into their own systems.
But many things have improved since then. Best practices in supply chain management from other industries and regions have started to be recognized and shared. The ability of software to deal with the need for an increasingly agile supply chain became crucial and the focus shifted towards total cost of ownership of software. Technology vendors started developing more comprehensive and standardized software solutions.
In efforts to cope with changing customer demands and supply chain developments, the internal software is developed further as time passes. Slowly but surely, the system grows into something increasingly hard to change, support and maintain. Often, it depends on a handful of IT specialists and there’s an important lack of agility when trying to build and implement upgrades. This results in continuity issues and a limited ability to cope with evolving needs. Meanwhile, the legacy system continues to age, and the cost of ownership increases.
More and more banks and cash businesses are appreciating the benefits that off-the-shelf and standardized software have to offer. Not only to manage their core cash operation, but their supporting processes as well. With the ongoing focus on decreasing the cost of the cash supply chain and gaining agility, these are logical considerations. Choosing to implement standard software results in using an IT platform that is easier to manage, flexibly scales with the business, and stays up-to-date with regular upgrades in both technology and functionality.
Instead of trying to manage an immense IT system, it becomes about configuring the standard software in a way that best supports the business processes and expected developments of the company. This completely changes the focus and you quickly start to see technology driven by the business, rather than vice versa. Meanwhile, IT vendors are expected to provide expert consultants that can assist with advice, guidance and the sharing of global best practices. Therefore, vendors need to run a global business and provide excellent consultancy – not only to help banks and cash businesses, but also to generate enough revenue to continuously reinvest in their software. This has led to a transformation in the cash management IT industry.
Although internally developed, legacy systems have often proven their value over time, the cash industry has changed and with that the needs of banks and cash businesses. For us this means exciting times and great opportunities to continue to make IT in the cash supply chain more efficient, adaptable and secure.