“Getting your house in order” is a simple statement, but often a daunting task.
The reality in businesses across all sectors is that the landscape is forever changing. Whether it’s a new customer requirement, change in management, or new regulation, “keeping your house in order” is something that should be a proactive part of the status quo. If we don’t move with the times, the times will move without us, often opening up risk in business-critical processes.
Conformance processes within connectivity teams are no different. What we can do however is design processes that support this changing landscape, minimise risk, and enable scalability without the pain.
But, what do we need to do to get our house in order?
Clear (and accurate) documentation.
If documentation is out of date, poorly produced, or simply inaccurate, it will be nearly impossible to build effective efficiency.
Clear, accurate, and complete documentation must describe in detail how the API should behave for every workflow you wish to support.
Whether you complete this manually or using appropriate tooling, it all starts and ends with good documentation.
With API documentation in order, creating testing scenarios becomes a much easier task.
You know how the API should behave, now you must create documented conformance tests to establish exactly what you want the tests to demonstrate.
With well-established test scenarios, customer conformance becomes a repeated process, rather than a new, bespoke piece of work.
When it’s time to test, you don’t want to be scrabbling around to find key pieces of information required to connect.
IP addresses, port numbers, and CompIDs are just some of the pieces of information required for the actual connection. For brand new customers this may also include both UAT and production.
Documenting and storing these in an easy-to-reference management tool will increase efficiency at a key stage of any conformance project.
Bringing a new customer onboard requires more than the connectivity team. But, who should the customer contact for different dependencies?
Create a list of contacts for the customer, for both the conformance cycle and into production. These may include development, compliance, production support, settlement, and billing.
It may sound like a simple step, but the inability to communicate effectively can cause delays, confusion, and create a negative impact on customer service.
Being clear with customers up-front on who to contact immediately removes a potential bottleneck, and keeps the project moving.
Integration has been built and tested, and the customer is ready to move to production.
But how does this process work, what steps are required, and who is responsible both from the customer side, and internally?
If the connection is new, there may also be other project information or contacts to be exchanged, such as compliance, settlement or billing information.
Identifying potential constraints and dependencies up-front will minimise any surprises further down the line.
Create clarity for customers by asking important questions, discussing planned go-live dates, and identifying any requirements from external supplies that could hold up the project.
An efficient, high-quality conformance process requires thought and planning. Whether you use conformance-specific tooling or not, establishing processes, data capture points, and documentation are all crucial to the process.
These requirements, questions, and documents should be standardised and stored centrally (not in someone’s email inbox!), and preferably in the form of a database capable of allowing data to be re-used elsewhere in the process without rekeying, re-sharing, or requesting the same information again and again.
Conversely, if any of these steps are missing, poorly executed, or lacking the detail and quality required, then the direct result is, either the customer is left frustrated, or forced to do more work than required, potentially identifying and correcting errors in your documentation, and therefore far more likely to contact your team for support.