Six Tips for Running a Smooth Superannuation Fund Transition Project.
Superannuation fund transitions come in many shapes and sizes. This could include changing funds (successor fund transfers), changing administrator, changing administration platform or any combination of all three. Each has its own challenges. What works for one may not work for another. Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules to follow. Most projects will follow a standard process, like locking down scope and managing change. However, when it comes to transitions projects, there are several key considerations that can make the process smoother.
IQ Group has played a fundamental role in many major fund transitions over the years. From our wealth of experience, we have compiled our top six tips for rolling out a smoother transition:
- Accept that some things will be better, some will be worse and most will be the same.
This is true for all transitions – yes, even in a successor fund transfer. This is a mantra that everyone involved should be chanting to themselves every day, especially when stress levels are high.
There is no perfect fund, administrator or platform. Each comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s not realistic to expect everything to be at least the same or better. Ensure you’re really taking the time to question the impact of anything you consider a backwards step. While something may seem important, ask yourself:
- Do you really need it day one?
- Are there things that could mitigate the impact that you can live with in the short term?
- Is this worth focusing on and taking time away from other activities?
- Is it really a backwards step, or is it just another valid way of getting to the same result or outcome?
- Subject matter experts are vital.
Subject matter experts (SME’s) are some of the most difficult people to source, but they are an invaluable resource during a transition project. While their time may be in short supply, do what you can to get them. You will need SME’s for the whole duration of the transition project (and sometimes afterwards as well). A transition project will only get so far without them.
During their time on the project, ensure you pair the SME up with someone who can learn from them. You may not consider this to be a priority, but once your transition is live, the SME will move on to the next big thing and you’ll need someone around who can assist with the inevitable post-transition issues.
In addition, try to document as much as possible and in a “generic” way so that it can re-used in future transitions.
- Know your processes and why you do things the way you do.
Some of the most frustrating words you can hear are: “we do (x) this way because that’s the way we’ve always done it” or “I don’t know how (x) works, why can’t you look at the system and see what it does”.
If a company doesn’t understand its processes, why they’re done that way or what the intention is, you need to ask:
- How do you know if it’s being done correctly?
- How do you know if it’s meeting the objective?
- How do you know if there really is a difference?
- How do you know if there isn’t a better way of doing it?
The approach should be to get equivalent outcomes not like for like. The most important thing to aim for is the outcome. How you get there is less important sometimes. There may be better ways of doing things, or even just different. Don’t focus on the process because it may cause you more time delay and costs than you need.
- Know your Business Rules and Information.
Knowing your fund rules is just as important as knowing your processes. You need the information right at the start of the project. Delays in getting the information will almost always result in scope creep at best, and delays to the go live date at worst. The rules need to be clear and complete. If they’re not, there will be lots of questions raised that will eat into the limited time you have for your SME’s.
- Don’t Assume.
Assumed knowledge is the curse of many projects, none more so than during a transition. Not everyone has lived and breathed superannuation for decades or will come to the project with the same experience and background that you do. Try to take a step back and consider what the people working on this project may not be aware of. However, don’t get hung up on detailing every single piece of minutia – overkill can sometimes be worse than assuming. Try and find the appropriate middle ground. Do this by asking questions, find out what people do and don’t know and provide relevant responses. Strong communication between all those involved is key.
- Expect Data Quality Issues.
If there is one problem that you can expect during a transition project, it’s going to be a data issue. As you come across these issues, deal with them pragmatically. The correct response is not always black and white. Be flexible. Sometimes you will want to fix them at source, sometimes you will fix them at target and sometimes you just need to let it be. Often, the 80/20 rule will apply (you know, where 80% of the outcome will be achieved during the first 20% of effort and the remaining 20% will take 80% of the time). Be pragmatic and flexible in your approach.
If your business is looking to run a transition project, IQ Group’s experts are here to help. To find out more or reach out, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Luigi Gandolfo, Senior Consultant Business Analyst