Buy-to-Build: A New Approach in Financial Markets

5 Minutes

Software investment projects in financial markets organizations almost always include a ‘buy...

Software investment projects in financial markets organizations almost always include a ‘buy vs build’ decision: whether to buy – to purchase an off-the-shelf solution from a third-party vendor, or to build – to design and develop proprietary software in house. As there are arguments for and against both approaches, it is not uncommon for this to be one of the harder questions to answer when it comes to introducing or replacing platforms and applications in the financial services. However, a new approach is emerging that combines the advantages of both buy and build strategies by leveraging ready-made components that can accelerate the development of bespoke software; the buy-to-build approach. Planning projects and implementing new software in large financial organisations can be extremely complex. As well as having to choose a solution that best fits the functional requirements of the project, it is often the case that there are multiple additional restrictions and requirements imposed on project leads and sponsors. Established vendor relationships in the wider ecosystem of the firm must be considered and approving and onboarding a new vendor partner typically requires a long lead time. Commoditised ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions are appropriate for many use cases in the financial services industry - for example, where processes are routine and highly standardised – but there are numerous other scenarios where off-the-shelf / ‘buy’ solutions must be supplemented by satellite applications, add-ons or workarounds to cover the full spectrum of functionality required by the financial firm. The Low-Code Platform Development Approach The benefits of a successful low-code platform implementation can be significant. For example, time to production and speed of development is one of the most significant selling points of the low code approach. It is often possible to develop new applications using a Low-code platform in a matter of days or weeks, rather than the months or years it would take using a more traditional development approach. low-code platforms offer a well governed project framework that facilitates fail-fast agile delivery – or, in other words, the ability to ‘pivot’ and make corrections or fix bugs at pace during development. Using prebuilt ‘building blocks’ for commonly needed repeatable components, developers can prioritise their time and skills on the more complex and bespoke functionalities. Consequently, scarce developer resources are more efficiently used by businesses. Better efficiency of development teams is a theme running across low-code platforms, in that they can incorporate intelligent features that lead to a reduction of errors, such as automated in-line documentation and intelligent code completion tools that can reduce syntactic and typographical errors. Some no-code platforms have the potential to allow development by non-developers, where technically minded users without extensive development skills can build simple applications on a robust platform. Perhaps most importantly for financial services firms, the freedom created by low-code platforms to create applications can lead to potential governance problems unless a proper governance and controls framework is in place. Low-code platforms are often cited as a method to remove grey tech, and while it certainly can be, there is little benefit in migrating applications to a new platform only to suffer the same lack of controls and visibility as the migration was intended to solve. These potential risks and pitfalls can be mitigated using sensible controls and governance and a well-developed, tested and maintained platform and framework, and should be carefully considered when selecting a low-code vendor with which to partner. A suitable vendor will not only offer to deliver the relevant benefits but, will be able to demonstrate how it can mitigate the risks for a given project, specific to the situation, requirements, governance and experience of the organisation. Low-code for Enterprise-grade Platforms in Financial Markets Financial markets participant organisations have some highly specific requirements, as well as needing technology that is fit for purpose, fast to market and agile enough to respond to change quickly. As such, the generic low-code vendors will not always be in a position immediately to assist in the most efficient way, but there are specialised providers which combine technological innovation with industry-specific knowledge and expertise, and whose low-code building blocks are specifically designed to address requirements particular to the financial markets. There are a large number of potential financial services building blocks that might be employed by this kind of provider, including out-of-the-box integration with commonly-used industry systems and applications, pre-built interfaces with market and static data providers and the ability to consume and process very large volumes of data in real-time together with low-latency processing and access to data stores, which can be critical in, for example, electronic trading platforms, but are generally not necessary to the same extent in software used in non-financial industries. Building on the Best of Both with Buy-to-Build The buy-to-build low code approach has much to recommend it as a weapon in the financial services software development arsenal. In an industry that purports to thrive on innovation and swift reaction to change, the potential flexibility, agility and speed of these platforms is difficult to overlook and the allure of collaborative solution development between technologists and business experts within a robust and reliable framework is compelling. Genesis Global is the only low-code platform built specifically for the financial markets and offers a fresh approach to helping firms who need to adapt and innovate their business and operating models in an ever-challenging and constantly changing environment.
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