Efficient implementation, effective maintenance and product development supporting clients' business results are the three pillars of a well-executed implementation of any IT system, including a factoring solution for a bank or financial institution. In this post, I will briefly talk about the last of the mentioned elements, i.e. how to plan and efficiently update an already launched solution.
A release plan is nothing more than a plan to provide the client with upgrades, patches or subsequent versions of the product, written out in shorter cycles, usually quarterly or in more detail – in 2–4 week terms. Scheduled in shorter and longer cycles, it allows not only to plan efficient product development at the vendor, but also to effectively monitor implemented modifications on the part of the bank or factoring company.
The release plan is based on:
- customer suggestions (collected in RFP and RFI),
- market trends,
- constantly monitored habits and preferences of system users,
- regulatory guidelines and legislative decisions.
What are the development plans for the product we offer?
At Comarch Factoring, we create a release plan for the whole year with the assumption that the next quarter is thoroughly planned, and the following ones assume the possibility of minor changes. They may be caused, for example, by the Ministry of Finance regulations (e.g. KSeF in Poland) or individual customer requirements that we consider product-related, i.e. those that will serve the entire product, and not just a single implementation.
Due to the scale of the update, the following can be distinguished:
a) Minor release – those can be uploaded in 1–2 weeks, usually at the end of a sprint, i.e. the work cycle of development teams;
b) Major release – as a standard, these are quarterly, major updates, during which we introduce significant changes and new, larger functionalities affecting the operation of the system and requiring more preparation also on the side of the bank or factoring company using the software, such as standardization of extracts or libraries;
c) Product release – i.e. replacement/update to a completely new product version, changing e.g. the system logic or its interface/visual layer.
Due to the necessity of each update, they can also be divided into:
- Obligatory – i.e. those that condition the proper functioning of the software, its compliance with legal regulations for a given market, and the compliance of the system with the established technological standard;
- Optional – these are additional functionalities that develop or modify the system based on, for example, suggestions from end users, changing trends and habits, that are sometimes paid for extra, and which the customer may, but does not have to use.
What are the benefits of planning new functionalities and factoring product development on an annual basis?
A product development plan prepared in this way is particularly useful for customers, because it provides them with a number of benefits, including:
- Transparent implementation plan – milestones in the development of the system planned in advance, that are known at the beginning of the year. In addition, people responsible for the project on the bank's side have ongoing insight into the progress of the supplier's work, which is clearly presented and regularly updated.
- Lower cost of new functionalities – the product approach (as opposed to the approach assuming software development for each client separately) allows for spreading the costs among all companies using the given software, thanks to which the development of new functionality is noticeably cheaper than custom-made options.
- System compliance with the latest trends – regular monitoring and collecting demand for functionalities and ideas for updates around the world allows for their subsequent adaptation to other national markets. This approach allows to support the development of the factoring service in general and increases the company's business appeal in terms of an ever-wider offer for end customers.
- Security - without regular updates, IT systems get older. The software developed 5 years ago used without continuous technological maintenance may increase the risk to cyber-attack threats. It is thus very important for the solution providers to keep the technology stack up to date (i.e. changing/upgrading the technologies they use), but also for banks and factoring companies providing the service to their customers to regularly update the application.