INSIGHTS FROM AMPHORA
90-Day Track to A Successful Implementation
CTRM software has a reputation for being difficult to implement with long, time-consuming, and expensive implementations, often resulting in a suboptimal result. To an extent, this reputation is probably deserved as CTRM software is highly complex and configurable, designed to meet any number of scenarios for different commodities and types of businesses. The industry is littered with inadequate and failed CTRM implementations as a result.
At Amphora, we ensure our implementations go as smoothly as possible that result in success for our clients. Most of our implementations take 12-weeks or less, (in many cases, less, references on request), leaving the customer with an implementation that meets their business needs and delivers real business value.
Over the 25 years that Amphora has been implementing CTRM systems, we have learned what works and what doesn’t, what are the important aspects of an implementation and what are not, and we have encapsulated that in our unique approach by identifying common themes for delays and additional costs for these implementations and adapting accordingly.
In addition, we understand that users want access to the benefits of their CTRM procurement faster and sooner and that is why we target just 12-weeks for an implementation, which begins as soon as the client is ready to go; usually the Monday after contracts have been signed. For continuity the sales team remain on the project until go-live. This has proven to be crucial in our success as the relationships built during the sales process continue during the implementation.
Our Implementation Approach
There are several critical parts to a successful CTRM implementation in our experience. One of these is transparency with adequate project governance and ownership. Therefore, we work with the client to create a Project Steering Committee that is responsible for the overall delivery of the solution and consists of senior members of the client and Amphora teams.
We also create a Project Working Group that includes all key resources of the project team from both the client and Amphora. These people take ownership of project tasks and ensure that they are completed in time and to budget, with weekly summaries produced. The Project Working Group will comprise of a client project lead, super user, business function experts for each major business function along with Amphora’s project lead, project manager and other members of the team. Ensuring that the right resources are focused on the project and are backed by the commitment of the management we have found to be a key success criterion for a successful and transparent implementation.
The overall implementation process that we have developed is another key part of our approach. It starts out with a blueprint stage in which we examine how the client works in a particular area, identifying the processes that need to be modelled in the software, finding the reference data and pricing requirements, identifying the key reports, and generating the test cases to be used later, (UAT and upgrades).
It is important to complete the scoping and requirements phase with due diligence early within the implementation (3 weeks is the aim). Other business units may now be involved in the project that were not part of the initial CTRM selection process but whose input is crucial before moving onto the configuration phase of the project. Their input may uncover additional functionality requirements or gaps that were not previously identified. Any gaps that are noted during this stage will have a solution provided for go-live. It is therefore important for all users to view the system early in the implementation and to explain/document their individual needs.
The implementation project is managed to an agreed plan, using the identified resources tackling the planned tasks. Any risks to the project must also be identified and dealt with. Throughout the implementation the client is viewing/testing the system daily, providing feedback on the solution proposed.
The requirements will lead to a discussion around the unlimited portfolio structure. Does the client need to view risk and P&L at trader/desk/region/business unit/commodity/commodity group level- or other combinations? Amphora assists with providing possible solutions with worked examples provided by the client, (costly consultants not required). Once the merits of each solution are discussed with every business unit, the final portfolio structure is agreed, set-up and trades can then be created.
During the implementation, any changes to this portfolio structure and any modifications to previously “agreed” items during the implementation phase will be made by Amphora at no additional cost. We understand that during the implementation, the client often becomes more aware of the system capabilities which can improve their business process and may want to adapt the original approach. Recent examples include company configuration (with additional business units and internal trades for reporting), additional information to be captured at trade level (to be displayed on the invoice or credit note), additional profit centres, contract creations, etc. Being flexible on the solution from the client side also can occur with acceptance of simple workarounds for very rare events, (as opposed to developing a fully automated solution).
The configuration stage then involves configuring the software to meet the blueprint requirements, importing the reference data, setting up market data and validating the solution.
All the main applications are fully configurable by each user; during the implementation, initial set-ups will be created by Amphora based on user feedback for each business unit to use for go-live. Functionality is also configurable with Amphora initially selecting which is appropriate for the client’s current business process.
After go-live the client takes control with help from training sessions, manuals, the support team, and business analysts provided by Amphora. This involves creating tailored reports and adding additional reference data including new commodities, markets, prices, booking companies, users allowing the client to scale up the offering at no extra charge once they are live, (apart from additional user licenses). The ability for the client to add additional reference data themselves, once live, encourages a “cleaner” go-live; with only active data added during the implementation phase.
We pride ourselves on having knowledge of all complex/modular pricing and operational tasks and how they should affect risk and P&L. Trade pricings are modelled during this phase and stored in the library for users to select when entering a trade or market price.
The next steps are training, testing and go live. The clients “Super-Users” will be trained in all areas, understanding the system’s full potential, and will be able to provide solutions for other users without the involvement of Amphora’s support team.
Successful Implementation in Practice
Using this approach, Amphora has discovered how to work for successful, lower cost, less time-consuming implementations. By implementing in 12-weeks or less, we can ensure the business benefits are delivered and the client sees value quickly. All of our clients over the last 2-years have worked with us using this approach to achieve both successful and quick implementations.
Once live, a hyper-care period is provided before the client moves onto our support team and the client is trained to document any issues/tasks, with weekly updates provided.
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Amphora is a unique provider in today's commodities marketplace. We offer CTRM and Shipping services under one roof, allowing clients to go to market quicker and for a significantly lower cost.
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