Thursday, April 02, 2009

Failures and lessons learned

The mobile banking industry is (for some or other reason) extremely competitive. Many solution companies compete with each other to win the business on offer. During the ten years that we have been active in the industry many companies have come and gone. Quite a few projects that were attempted failed and a number of enterprises were disappointed with service delivery.

It is not common to talk about these failures and to name the companies by name. (I think it is because it is such a close-knit community and none of us like to see projects fail). It is not my intention to name companies in this blog, but I have learned of at least three projects that failed (did not deliver on the expectations of the client) and felt that it is important to try and learn from what has gone wrong. This is my summary:
  1. These projects set out to do things for the first time. The contract (in all these cases) were won on the basis of specifications and not actual delivery and proven technology. It is important for enterprises to select companies with a proven track record as mobile banking projects are often much more complex than what is the initial thought.
  2. What works in one country cannot be transported to another country. Technology that worked (for instance in India) cannot be transported into (lets say) Africa. Or even from one country in Africa to another. Differences in culture, the competitive landscape and regulations often have significant impact in the ultimate success of the deployment (or not).
  3. Enterprises that negotiate suppliers into "no-win" situations. This is often the case where one of the suppliers see the project as a "must-win" at all cost scenario and then agree to contractual terms that are not possible. These include pricing, timelines, scope of delivery, conformance to standards etc. The impossibility of the project often degenerate into missed timelines, bad quality and general disappointment.
Part of working towards the maturity of the industry would be to look at the failures and to start taking the decisions that produces win-win opportunities for client and supplier.

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