Finding the right CTRM Solution for your business

Choosing the right software for your organization can be a difficult assignment, particularly in regards to CTRM software. The requirements can be different and might be as unique as the business itself. An ideal software should  meet the needs and prepare the organization to take advantage of the opportunities in the complex and ever-changing energy markets.

The solution you carry out should follow a holistic approach and has to be dynamic in nature. It should be able to engage front, middle, and back offices in requirements gathering and should provide end-to-end solutions.

Common misconceptions about CTRM software selection process and how to avoid them

Prior to getting down to the prescribed procedures, It is very important to know what has to be avoided. The following are normal misconceptions about choosing the right CTRM software that is suitable for your business model. 

Misconception #1

What worked for others might work for you as well. 

Each business and business process is unique. This is the actual reason why businesses and management spend more time on “Differentiating their strategy”. Since every business strategy  is unique, system implementation should also be different. It means a lot to maintain the attention on your requirement while assessing CTRM software.

Misconception #2

CTRM software selection is all about evaluating the technical and functional aspects of the software. 

While it is very important to select a solution that meets your technical and functional requirements. It is also critical to look at the flexibility and ease of use that places functionality in the hands of your business users. 

Any solution that that is flexible and can be used for future business requirements offers more prominent long-term value to your business or business users.

Misconception #3

Demos and very nice presentations are proof of good software. 

Generally, demos/presentations are good ways to get introduced to the software. It is when you would need to dive deeper into the evaluation process and analyze what best suits your business needs. Having a good and detailed business scenarios that covers your business is an essential for a good demo.

 

Useful hints to assist you with your software vendor evaluation and RFP Process

Tip #1

It could appear evident yet getting a clear understanding of the business, and how it makes sense to add value for the stakeholders now and in the future, and inside the organization’s related governance structures is basic for choosing the right trading and risk solution(s).

The requirements of an energy marketer that is advancing to consolidate a hedging program and a small bunch of trading methodologies are totally different from a complex trading house looking to venture into new commodities, new business sectors, outlandish instruments, or carefully empowering their trading and risk arrangement system. A tailored solution to the present companies might be rapidly growing without an insightful perspective on needs five to seven years down the line. It needs to be beneficial for your business today, but also  aligned to your business strategy ready to support the future state of your business. 

Tip #2

CTRM applications are niche in the market. Software vendors and software integrators are the ones who have an impeccable source of information about these products from their extensive offerings and experience. Before you start your selection process, you will need to spend time on the latest trends, CTRM market, Options available and so on, to ensure the potential fit for your business.

Ask your vendors “what is important?” 

You might know what is exactly important or required for your company, however, ask for this. It is very important to talk to your vendors ahead of the tender process and build up knowledge before you go for the tender process.

Tip #3

 Any software vendor typically can build and deliver the functionality more than you ask about. It is all about how the functionality is implemented in your software or your process for your future needs too. You just need to challenge your vendors. 

The manner in that you challenge your vendors is to give them tasks. For example: Describe how the functionality is implemented or define your implementation process and scope of your software in the future. Ask them for a guide/document so that you can understand the business model, and whether you can implement this in your organization.

Tip #4

Nowadays, for business and IT pioneers, the event of an extraordinary framework implementation like another ERP, CTRM, or other enterprise solution might be the rare opportunity to step back, look at the innovation, technology landscaping, and, possibly take new steps in building a new architecture. Is the IT department wanting to advance in a cloud or digital native direction in terms of application strategy?  Is the basic postmodern ERP approach that tries to use broad API-based integration among the reasons fabricated, leading tools? This kind of task can give the impulse and resources to digitalize the process. 

 We know that you or the vendors need high-level details while implementing CTRM software, but most of the times stake holders are not really ready to disclose those details. That’s where vendors try to lock the projects in the design phase to fix the design. So, once the design is fixed, you cannot make any changes because they will be building the data warehouse based on the fixed design. 

What we understood is that you’re not ready to give them all the details. Since it will change constantly – Application Management – Strategy Management & Application performance management – is about change. Along these lines, don’t go into this trap of agreeing “I locked the designing phase of the project, I locked the planning stage,” since, in such a case that you do that, they will give a change request constantly, for each time you are changing the scope.

Tip #5

It’s not just about the good demos and nice PowerPoint presentations. What you need is evidence. You will need to ask your vendors about evidence to create and show you the KPI’s and KRI’s of the application or how to create the KPI’s & KRI’s of the process. This gives a comfort that you need. Asking more and more questions to your vendors on their business cases might help you to relate your business process and build up more knowledge.

Tip #6

We think CTRM solution is not just a software or a project, it is an ongoing process. It should continue even after vendor leaves you, need the consultants to work on the application support and manage the application from multiple factors. 

The important questions that should come to your mind are “who will be managing your CTRM while or after implementing your software?” “Has the implementation team delivered you enough documentation?” Have they shared you enough knowledge, so that you are able to operate by yourself on daily basis?”. Also, you need to add these your tender documents.

A brilliant method for separating vendors is to request a POC. In the event that the software is adaptable and simple to use, it ought to be simple for the vendor to set up a POC in light of your prerequisites. Making this solicitation a piece of your merchant determination cycle will help an objective evaluation of the solutions.

Critically, it is very important to think about the traditional CTRM Software selection and procurement process and tailor them to deliver that is best lined up with your plan of action and business model, Software capabilities, technology strategy and needs. digitalization is troublesome commonly and applying to many years old selection, Procurement, and implementation techniques to these sorts of undertakings are probably not going to yield significant advancement.

Value Creed will assist you in choosing the right software, that is a best fit for your resources and capabilities.

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Software Selection Methodology

Through our years of managed services experience, having taken many customers through upgrades and software migrations, we have developed a strong system for gathering and understanding the CTRM customers’ business requirements and how they evolve.  

We believe that a deep understanding of the business processes and precisely aligning your software requirements to your strategic plan are the most important aspects of software selection. During the software selection process, we prepare and guide you through checklists, product labs, demos, and workshops to determine the best fit for your organization. 

 

Process Evaluation Key Activities

Workshops

Conduct workshop sessions with key team members to understand current processes and discuss future considerations

Mapping of Current Processes

Create Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 process maps for all business functions

Optimization Opportunities

Identify areas to optimize current processes and develop and execute a plan to update them

Reevaluation

Establish KPIs and a plan to periodically review and reevaluate current business processes and refine as necessary

Gap Analysis

Identify gaps and opportunities for new processes to be put into place and develop an execution plan to establish them with the business

Future Opportunities

Identify future growth needs and prioritize them in the maturity cycle

Process Evaluation Deliverables

Meeting Schedule & Timeline

Roles & Responsibilities Summary

Process Maps

Documentation (Training Library)

Vendor Evaluation

During the Evaluation Phase, we take a deep dive into each vendor and their solution. We use our Requirements and Selection Criteria to guide our evaluation during product demos.

  • Develop a demo format and demo script for all vendors to follow
  • Ability to showcase the functionality and user interface of the highest priority selection criteria
  • Develop a standard scoring sheet for all participants during the vendor demos
  • Predetermined rankings and scoring criteria keeps all parties unbiased and objective
  • Live demos of the solution demonstrated by a vendor’s team member
  • Demos will follow predetermined use case scenarios

Learn More About Our Software Selection Resources & Outcomes

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#3: Insightful Data-Driven CTRM Vendor Selection Approach Facilitates Run-Operate Success

If you have read the first installment of our blog series on CTRM software selection, you are aware of the time consuming tasks and potential pitfalls involved when choosing a vendor on your own. And if you read part 2, you know what to look for when seeking a team to alleviate the burden and risks associated with a project of this magnitude.

Now, in our third post, you will learn how Value Creed and Sendero intertwine their comprehensive vetting and selection processes to help you select the vendor that is right for your organization. 

By engaging this team, your vendor selection process will leverage a unique, multi-step process as follows:

  1. Gather Intelligence – We define and enforce inclusive business unit involvement across the organization to ensure all stakeholders’ desires are heard. Staff interviews, executive strategy, and a vendor-agnostic approach ensures a bias-free selection.
  2. Define & Prioritize User Requirement with Insight of CTRM/ETRM Expertise – Armed with deep CTRM/ETRM hands-on expertise and industry domain knowledge, we construct a requirement model customized to your specific demands, operational workflows, cross-functional use cases, and overall program management goals.
  3. Insider’s Assessment of “Off-The Shelf Functionality” – It is rare when a CTRM/ETRM platform solves every stakeholder’s requirement “out-of-the-box.”  We align user requirements and technical considerations with each platform’s inherent capabilities and identify gaps where customizations will be required.
  4. Mapping Business Process Alignment – Alignment of existing business processes to the CTRM/ETRM platform is paramount. To choose the best-fit platform, existing business processes, back office, middle office and front office processes are assessed and compared among platforms.  Our management consulting assessment approach combined with our deep ETRM/CTRM experience ensures you have foresight into the  solution most closely aligned with your business goals. 
  5. Reach Consensus – Our comprehensive evaluation uses proven methods for vetting vendors and uncovering critical details involving cost of ownership and operation, potential productivity disruptions, learning curves, and more

Dive Deeper Into This Multifaceted Approach 

Sendero takes the time to uncover the drivers behind your firm’s trading challenges and opportunities, delving deep into your business philosophy to determine which software features will best get you where you want to go by involving executives, management, and front-line users through every stage, in every decision, while providing a structured methodology that allows you to balance your day-to-day asks with the selection.

Value Creed employs teams of experts fluent in CTRM, transaction flow, and contract structure. We understand how your software platform will influence the speed, efficiency, and profitability of every trade you make. Backed by hundreds of software implementation projects and millions of people-hours monitoring operations and reports, Value Creed ensures the software and vendor you engage will meet your needs now and in the future. As a managed service provider (MSP) our experience delivering on-demand 24-hour responsiveness by technical teams located both in the U.S. and India. Our dual time zone model gives Value Creed clients the functionality they need to thrive. 

#2: Harness the Power of Management Consultancy and Run-Operate Expertise

 In our former post, we noted the value of having insight into common missteps that can be costly long term when the process of commodities and energy trading risk management (CTRM/ETRM) vendor selection is not informed by a proven vendor selection approach. 

The truth is upgrading or moving to a new CTRM/ETRM software is an arduous, expensive undertaking. The good news is, you should not have to endure the experience more than once or twice during your career. The bad news is that conducting a project as potentially transformative as overhauling and converting your trading software can be especially challenging if you have never done it before.

Proven Vendor Selection Approach + Run Operate Knowledge = Long Term CTRM/ETRM Platform Satisfaction

The best software selection decisions will consider more than just the platforms’ purely technical capabilities. The optimal choice also will assess the software’s capabilities in solving your specific challenges and matches your workflow, strategy, and user demands. New requirements often come to light several months after software is commissioned. An experienced team of run-operated experts on your team can identify potential future conflicts and changes your company may need to undertake to make the software compatible with your business goals:

  • Software customization
  • Workarounds
  • Legacy system upgrades
  • User training
  • Monitoring and reporting

These insights give you the information you need to make informed decisions about the lifetime value each option will bring to your organization. As a basic foundation, you know what you will need to do to make your new software perform all the specified functions.

Double-Teaming Software Selection

In addition to easing the burden of evaluating and selecting the software product and vendor that you will be working with over the next decade, here are some benefits of adding both an operations and productivity guru and a management consultant to your software vendor selection team:

  1. Industry Familiarity – Most software consultants will be able to evaluate the products’ features, but only those familiar with commodities and energy markets will be able to match your needs to benefits and leverage their knowledge to uncover hidden requirements. The best will optimize not only your software but also the logistics, implementation, and deployment.
  2. Focus on Value Rather than Cost – Many companies consider IT a cost center, but when it comes to CTRM software, price should take a backseat to performance.and return on investment. Experienced managed service providers work with all aspects of various CTRM platforms and are positioned to balance cost against capabilities.
  3. Comprehensive Selection Methodology – Competent managed service providers focusing on software selection will help you choose a product that solves your problems with as little customization as possible. Tailoring adds expense without contributing value. A managed service provider will demonstrate why it is more efficient to alter existing workflows and processes to conform to a new platform than to force the application to adapt to legacy processes.
  4. Vendor Agnosticism – Software vendors want to sell their clients the product that best serves their needs, but they all believe their own product fills that need. A consultant has heard it all before and is familiar enough with the market to cut through the sales talk and evaluate offerings strictly based on their merits. A truly agnostic consultant structures the analysis to eliminate personal and systemic bias and leverages connections throughout the industry to get a better understanding of the products and vendors.

As a leading management consultant, Sendero presents a proven methodology for vetting software. This rigorous evaluation is instrumental in eliminating most contenders. The final selection, however, should include analysis by run-operate experts. Value Creed delivers by determining how the software programs under consideration will interact and align with your established procedures, logistics, and timelines. 

 

Combining Sendero’s experienced management consultancy with the day-to-day run-operate Value Creed’s managed services expertise ensures you will make the optimal decision for your firm.

Upfront investments in licensing and implementation are helpful, but not comprehensive of the entire lifecycle of software ownership.  By combining a managed services provider’s run operate phase expertise with a management consultant’s experience garnered through hundreds of software selection consultations, you have a complete view into onboarding the platform and managing and working with it long-term.  Value Creed’s run-operate expertise aligned with Sendero’s software selection practice ensures a unified approach to achieving your stakeholder’s goals while keeping the budget for licenses and implementation on track. 

Value Creed's Run Smart Managed Services Start at $3,500 a month

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#1: Hidden Costs of In-House Vendor Selection & How to Avoid Them

As markets shift, risks increase, and strategies evolve, your CTRM/ETRM software needs become more specific, comprehensive, and nuanced. The time may be right for upgrading your system so you do not expose your company to undue risk or leave money on the table. To keep costs manageable, you may be tempted to perform your own CTRM/ETRM vendor selection process in-house. This may be a viable option, but you should understand the “hidden costs” of In-House vendor evaluation.

The “Hidden Costs” of In-House Vendor Selection

While the benefits of selecting a solution in-house may seem compelling, if handled improperly, they can backfire:

 

  1. You’ll likely overpay in the long run – It could, and likely will, happen. Key features “presented in a demo” don’t uncover common pitfalls or technology gaps in “out of the box” implementations. This fact could cost you much more later with gap-fills and workarounds in the short run and investing in a proper fix for the long run.
  2. It’s a full-time job –  Having IT, procurement, other departments more work to create RFPs, research capabilities, sit through numerous product demos, negotiate prices, and manage the project. These tasks tax those with already full plates and put timelines at risk.
  3. You’re the “fall guy or gal” – As stakeholders are interviewed and use cases are created, scope often extends as back office, middle office and front office user needs are identified. Defining these comprehensively requires more than “sales demo” level insights. Leverage vendor selection insights gleaned from multiple installs to protect your recommendation and your reputation.
  4. It’s hard to be objective about an “old friend” – Engaging a vendor to pursue the selection process keeps your team objective, erasing the propensity to prefer one vendor over another due to past experience or active relationships. 

Why CTRM/ETRM Vendor Selection Experts Help Avoid Missteps 

Many companies, however, find they cannot spare the resources or simply do not have a proven approach for conducting vendor evaluations in-house. Engaging a consultant with “frontline-proven” experience and approach facilitates the process, proactively uncovers pitfalls, and saves you money by setting your team up for deriving long-term value. 

 

Choose Value Creed to Manage Your Vendor Selection Process

Value Creed’s “total ownership” model, considering your company’s focus, scale, strategy, culture, and other characteristics to develop a tailored plan for your software upgrade. We have the insights and established processes to ensure you receive the maximum computing power and value for your money. Our knowledge base is augmented by our partnership with Sendero, one of the most respected management consulting firms in the industry.

Contact Value Creed to learn more about our services and to schedule a software consultation.

A Commodity Trading & Risk Management Application is a complex system which is required to manage OTC and exchange traded deals and positions of different commodities (crude oil, power, natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products, emission, and agricultural products) along with physical delivery and management of risk (market, credit and operational) facing the trades in the market. Before making a decision on which CTRM application to select, organizations must first assess their needs and then decide on the basis of the features of a CTRM application. Typically a CTRM system consists of 4 broad functions – Front Office, Middle Office, Back Office and Administration – which are aligned with each other.

Front Office

  • Trading (Input, View and Modify – OTC and Exchange Based Trades)

  • Pricing/Deal Structuring (Formula Based Pricing, Secondary Costs, Deal Level Pricing Simulation)

  • Trade Capture (Pre-deal Analysis and Credit Check)

Middle Office

  • Trade Confirmation (Batch Validation)

  • Credit Exposure – Analysis & Monitoring (Credit Ratings, Counterparty Risk, Physical and Financial Exposure)

  • Risk Exposure – Analysis & Monitoring (Market Risk, VaR, Options Greeks, MtM, PnL, Simulations)

  • Legal Analysis & Monitoring

  • Pricing Information using Pricing Curves (Market Price Data, Volatilities, Correlations, Forward and Exchange Curves)

  • Commodity Scheduling (Mode of Transport, Blending, Back to Back, Washout, Memo Sale, Circle Trade, Inventory Management and Reporting, Demurrage, Actualization)

Back Office

  • Contract Administration (Force Majeure, Jurisdiction, Incoterms)

  • Trade Settlement and Accounting (Invoices, Confirmations, Accounts Payable and Receivable Postings, Tax, PPA, Financial Closing)

  • Trade Workflows (End of Day Processing and Reporting, Trade Validations, Options Exercise, Trade Price Fixing)

Administration

  • Reference Data Management (Counterparties, Portfolios, Traders, Schedulers, Risk Managers)

  • Setup and System Administration (System Setup, Security Groups & Audits, Products and Locations Configuration)

  • Static Data

  • Automation of Workflows (End of Day Run, Risk and Credit Exposure Monitoring)

Selecting a CTRM Application requires deep professional analysis of the clients business and then aids them in choosing a CTRM Application which caters to the needs and requirements of the clients and aligns with the long term goals and targets of the organization to attain maximum ROI.

Our highly skilled Commodity Consultants at Value Creed with experience of working with the leading CTRM Applications globally help you determine the ‘as-is’ and ‘to-be’ situation of your current business functions and provides you expert advice on which CTRM Application will suit your needs. We design the RFP and act as a negotiator between client and the CTRM Application Vendor. Thus you get the maximum out of the minimum investments.

To know more on how Value Creed can be a process guide while selecting a CTRM Application which can add value to your business partner with us today.