22 September 2014

Tales of a Standards Geek

Steve Goswell - standardsgeek.com

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Standards Forum

The Standards Forum is the place where business and standardisation meet. This group would like to facilitate and encourage dialogue around standardisation in the financial industry, and share views, insights and updates on how financial standards can contribute to reducing cost and increasing efficiency when tackling today's challenges such as automation, compliance, and regulation.

MyStandards Marches On

25 February 2014  |  901 views  |  0

At an ISITC meeting many many years ago I sat down to breakfast with the Head of SWIFT Standards at the time and I outlined my frustrations.  What is the point of doing all this work to define a market practice if I can’t validate a message at that level?  Business Analysts across the industry have to take ISITC’s paper documentation and translate it into a technical spec for their development teams. At an industry level this is tremendously inefficient.  Not only that, but there are no guarantees that everyone will interpret the market practice the same way, so there’s a significant risk that the market practice won’t achieve the desired effect of improving STP rates. 

At Sibos in Amsterdam where I first saw a demo of MyStandards it took less than a microsecond to see the benefits that it will bring and the value that it will add to the standards industry.  This is exactly what we’ve been waiting for.  I called MyStandards a game-changer, and I still stand by that. 

I subsequently argued that tools like MyStandards; designed to improve the overall quality of messages; designed to reduce the total cost of ownership of the messaging infrastructure; should be made freely available to the SWIFT community. It’s a service that benefits everyone.  

Fast forward to today.  A healthy subset of the MyStandards functionality is free as part of the Basic License; available to anyone, SWIFT user or not.  Some of it is pretty cool.  For example, I routinely use MyStandards these days to access the User Handbook.  It’s also possible to generate documentation for any message guideline that is made publicly available. 

However, the really cool stuff is not free.  When you look at the price list for the Premium License it’s probably a fair statement to say that there is a certain level of sticker shock for all but the largest financial organisations.  This fact is borne out by a cursory glance at the list of 33 clients. 

The good news is that the fully licensed clients are allowed to share their MyStandards-generated artifacts with their own clients, so indirectly, a very large percentage of the global financial community is already benefiting from the tool. 

That’s all good.  In addition to the list of paid-up clients there are 25 market practice organisations on board, including ISITC.  This adds up to a decent sized hub of activity.  More than 2,000 guidelines have been created and published, viewed by over 6,500 individual users of the web portal. 

All in all, a very successful first couple of years for the MyStandards Product Team whichever way you slice it.  Not wanting to rest on their laurels though, what’s next? 

As I noted in one of my recent SR2014 blogs, there are plenty of SWIFT message validation services out there; some good, some not; some free, some not.  But there none (that I am aware of) that can test and validate a message at the level of a market practice definition.

That is, until now.  This week sees the release of a new addition to the MyStandards family of products that plugs this gap.  Introducing the MyStandards Readiness Portal.

Premium License MyStandards clients now have the option to license the Readiness Portal.  There are some obvious and very interesting use cases in play here.

  1. All large financial institutions have a mature on-boarding process for new clients or business partners.  For a large global custodian this would be typically include their asset managers, brokers, or sub-custodians.  For a commercial bank this might include their corporate clients.  The on-boarding model typically includes a SWIFT messaging component. 
  2. Most large banks have a rigorous process for managing the Annual Standards Release. This includes a testing component. Anyone who’s ever been in the trenches will tell you it can be a bit of a nightmare. Testing for the next release has to be carefully coordinated with BAU activities on the current release. There’s only one T&T network, and at any point in time your connection can only be in “current mode” or “future mode”.

It could be argued that the existing message validation services can be used to satisfy both these use cases, but the MyStandards Readiness Portal takes it to a whole new level.  

Putting it all together, a bank can now use MyStandards to create and publish guidelines.  The documentation and other artifacts can be shared with their clients, and prospective clients.  Alternatively, the bank could decide to leverage industry-defined guidelines created by the likes of CGI and the SMPG.  When the client or prospect is ready to test then the Readiness Portal can be used to manage the process.

Over the next week or so SWIFT has a number of product launch events planned in both London and New York.  I’ll be at the Standards Forum in New York next week so I plan to blog again later with more detail. 

Look out for part 2 of this blog in a few weeks.  Working title: “MyStandards Readiness Portal: that’s great, but wouldn’t it be really cool if…..”

 

 

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Steve Goswell

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