Your bank requires a customized information technology setup. If an out-of-the-box solution worked for every situation, there would be no need to talk about IT services in banking—and you would probably have fewer headaches.
Most community and regional banks have moved to a managed services program or a hybrid internal/external support structure. An individually-tailored managed IT services program allows banks and financial organizations to offload IT operations for a fixed monthly fee. The right program will ensure that you are able to devote your resources to making your bank more competitive and your employees more productive.
Selecting the best vendor for your bank’s situation requires research. Some of the considerations are easy: Does the managed services company have a solid reputation of working with other banks in your region? Is the company SOC-certified to comply with banking-specific security and regulatory concerns? Does the company have adequate resources to provide onsite and remote support for your bank’s 24/7 availability requirements?
But those are only introductory considerations. After several years of working side-by-side with clients and partners in the financial services sector, I developed a four-part approach to the IT requirements of modern banks. The four foundational blocks of IT services in banking are proactive technology management; network administration; reactive support services; and technology consulting.
IT Services in Banking: Infrastructure, Support, and Strategy
Not surprisingly, an overlap exists between the four foundational blocks. The graphic to the right helps to identify the relationship between the four requirements of IT services in banking. (Click graphic to view full size.)
Proactive technology management and network administration combine to form your bank’s IT infrastructure. With these two blocks properly set in place, your bank has a solid foundation from which to grow, with up-to-date software and licenses; well-documented maintenance records; and appropriate back-up and security of data.
These top two blocks—proactive management of your bank’s IT program and administration of your network—are straightforward. Given ample time and budget, any internal or external IT support program can handle these tasks reliably.
Additional support services and consultation—the bottom two blocks of the foundation of IT services in banking—are indicators of a managed services provider’s true quality.
As the graphic illustrates, “reactive support services” combines with network administration to form an overall support role. The cliché is that “our people set us apart,” but in managed IT services, that statement is especially true. Even with the best proactive management of a bank’s technology infrastructure, something will eventually break. Having a support team of highly-certified engineers ready to resolve the problem quickly and efficiently should be your goal when researching the best IT services provider for your bank. Fewer things are more frustrating than having to deal with an underqualified computer technician or an overseas support representative when a network glitch or computer crash has rendered you or one of your employees unable to function normally on your job.
Joining reactive support services as a value-add of top managed IT services companies is technology consulting. At NetGain Technologies, we think of this as the strategic foundational block of IT services in banking. This is where you want to make sure your managed services provider is able to stand out: Few IT services companies are able to consider the business impact of technology infrastructure and support, but the ramifications are essential to the health and growth of your bank.
When you consider a change or upgrade in the IT services at your community or regional bank, refer to the matrix to make sure you’re researching providers that are able to meet all of your bank’s technology needs. Keep in mind that, while proactive management and network administration (the overall IT infrastructure of your financial organization) are two of the supports necessary to a strong foundation, two other requirements are more difficult to find in a managed services provider. The quality of the reactive support services that your bank receives will greatly affect your employees’ productivity, and is likely to influence their morale. The strength of technology consultation you receive will influence your bank’s ability to enact IT systems that contribute to a positive business impact.