We were recently asked by a COOConnect member about the best sources for information about the strengths/weaknesses of the various hedge fund applications including front, middle and back office. Since we know many folks have this same question, today we are going to expand on the answer given by our expert, Mark Coriaty.
Now the way a hedge fund uses an application will vary based on its investment strategy, and therefore the perceived strengths and weaknesses may vary as well. However, there are multiple ways to establish a baseline of strengths and weaknesses.
Service Provider Reports: Balancing Bias with Value
First up are free reports from hedge fund service providers such as Eze Castle Integration. Each year we publish a benchmark study that outlines top applications used in select front, middle and back office categories by hedge funds. This report will provide a baseline of the top three application vendors used in each category, but doesn’t dive into specific feature sets. The report can be downloaded HERE.
Vendor reports can be helpful in getting an initial understanding of the most frequently used applications and top features used by firms. You should always consider the source, as some vendor reports or whitepapers will be biased.
Are you thinking of launching a new hedge fund? Considering relocating your existing fund to a new office? Is it time to undertake significant enhancements or renovations to your existing office space? Or – if your firm is growing rapidly – are you thinking of building out another office to expand into a new geographic location?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, a major technology project is likely in your near future. If your firm is currently working with a reputable IT partner, they should be able to assist you with this project. If your technology is being managed in-house, or if you’re a new shop that’s just starting out, you may want to seek the guidance of a third-party project and technology management consultant to ensure the project is completed correctly and in a timely manner.
From technology infrastructure concept development, to construction administration, to telecommunications and market circuit procurement and systems installation/implementation management, there are many crucial aspects of an IT build-out, relocation or expansion project.
Here at Hedge IT, we often discuss the variety of services and solutions that a third party technology provider can offer hedge funds and investment firms. However, one important area that is often overlooked is the process a firm must undertake in partnership with the provider in order to ensure a smooth transition to their new IT environment. In an industry that cannot afford downtime, seamless transition management is of the highest importance.
To aide in this transition, look for a provider that has deep experience working with clients to manage all implementations and other projects.
Taking a page from the Cloud Forum (quite literally), today we look at the top three winning reasons hedge funds are gravitating towards the cloud. Not surprisingly, these reasons center around increased efficiencies, improved technology environment and cost savings.
Scalable, Flexible and Available
The cloud offers firms the option of scalability without the serious financial commitments required for infrastructure purchase and maintenance. With cloud services there is no vendor lock-in or implied commitment beyond duration so firms have the flexibility to easily evolve their IT environment.
Another benefit is the ability to seamlessly add more users and/or computing resources to match the firm’s requirements. A hedge fund private cloud can deliver the infrastructure, bandwidth and network resiliency to accommodate business requirements for high speed access, storage and applications.
Before making the decision to move your IT infrastructure to a data center or colocation facility, there are a number of important criteria to evaluate. Let's review some of the most important.
Tiers – Data centers can occupy one room, one or more floors, or entire buildings. They are classified in terms of Tier Levels from Tier I to Tier IV, with Tier IV being the most advanced in terms of redundancy, security and availability.
Energy costs – As the cost of energy increases, analysts predict IT energy costs today are but a fraction of what future costs will be at current growth rates. Additionally, current trends indicate that server operating costs have the potential to equal their capital costs within three to five years.
Design innovation – Data center design is becoming increasingly important for improving operational efficiency. The foundation of data center design philosophy contains five core values: simplicity, flexibility, scalability, modularity and sanity.
When I was 10 years old, a large part of our school’s fifth grade graduation ceremony involved singing songs. I will admit to not remembering very much from that day, but one memory which has stayed with me to this day is our rendition of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” The song has very much remained one of my favorites because it sends so many important messages.
The song’s main messages include the importance of having dignity and self-respect. If you want your life to have meaning, start by making sure you stand for something regardless of the challenges this may require. Developing and practicing dignity and self-respect is the foundation upon which everything else is built upon, including your career.
In the field of project management, resting all your techniques and methodologies upon a foundation of dignity and self-respect will give you and everyone around you tremendous trust and confidence.
Here are 12 ways to kick-start your quest for dignity and self-respect at the project workplace:
1. Put the client’s interests ahead of your own. You are where you are because the client needs you. Strive to deliver more value than expected. You will be rewarded for it down the road.
According to Forbes, the most basic mistake employees make at the workplace is underdressing. Your dress code not only says a lot about you as an individual, but in many ways provides the very platform upon which your work is branded and showcased.
Similarly in the field of project management, experienced project managers know that communication is at the core of the successful completion of any project undertaking. Make no mistake – communication is not the only measure of project success any more than dress code is in the workplace. But the fact remains, an amazingly thorough presentation can be overshadowed by a presenter's inappropriate attire, and a project can likewise be won or lost through the channels of its own communication.
There is no question that having high intellectual intelligence improves your chances of success in corporate America. But history has shown time and time again that IQ alone will not get you through the dark days and tough times.
Consider why it is that when certain people walk into a room it brightens up, or why we usually seek advice from certain people. Why would you never question what certain people have to say, but never trust what some others usually say?
If someone were to ask me which project management skill is most crucial to the success of a hedge fund project manager, I would say communication. Take it a step further and ask me which part of a project initiative is most important to a project’s success, and I would say project structure.
I am a big proponent of transparency. Project structure serves as a base for the assignment of project tasks to team members because it greatly increases transparency across all levels. When done effectively, it helps control costs, analyze risks, measure performance and break project complexities into manageable parts (building blocks). Breaking a project down into applicable building blocks of structure (called “work packages”) is most effective because it forces the project manager to know something about the essential aspects of project planning.
Many Project Managers will typically describe their work as part art, part science, and part major headache. Balancing all of the elements of a complex project is an act that takes time to learn, especially in a fast-paced, highly demanding industry. The list below highlights a few of the most common challenges Project Managers face during their day-to-day lives.
1. Making unrealistic deadlines realistic.
Some would argue that most projects have "schedule slippage" as a standard feature rather than an anomaly. The challenge of many managers becomes finding alternate approaches to the tasks and schedules in order to complete a project "on time" or to get approval for slipping dates.
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