Streamlining drives Skandia's global expansion

Streamlining drives Skandia's global expansion

Pared-down software package speeds move into new markets

Financial services supplier Skandia has developed a pared-down core software package to keep down costs and boost flexibility, underpinning global expansion plans.

The strategy enables the company to start up in new markets more rapidly by stripping out all but the most essential systems.

The package includes a basic web site, a product contract engine and simple accounting systems. But more advanced applications such as human resources and customer relationship management are not included.

“If you want to test out new territories you don’t want to put a lot of money into it,” said chief information officer Tim Mann. “The starter software is just enough to get the business up and running.”

The “light” IT package is a central part of Skandia’s overall business strategy following Old Mutual’s £3.5bn takeover last year.

The acquisition was primarily motivated by Skandia’s growth potential, according to Mann. The firm already operates in 20 countries, and is looking to expand further in continental Europe and Latin America.

The introduction of a service-oriented architecture (SOA), called the Darwin Project, enabled the firm to isolate its most important processes, assess individual systems’ intrinsic value and clarify what was needed for expansion.

“Before, our architecture was overly complex, but the Darwin Project created IT systems which focused on the most valuable parts of the business,” said Mann.

But there are limits to the efficacy of a standardised approach, said Gartner analyst Peter Redshaw. “Local tax rules and ways of doing business in each country are not the same ­ often you need to customise,” he said.

The build and implementation of Skandia’s SOA and core software package are part of a five-year, £100m outsourcing contract with Indian supplier HCL.