It’s not about technology.
It’s about business outcomes.
IT expertise that enables you to focus on your real job.
I enable senior executives in the financial services industry to focus on their real job by resolving the recurring operational issues that take up too much of their time.
My work usually involves technology, with a particular focus on implementing appropriate controls and processes around your team’s key business processes and the Excel spreadsheets that these processes rely upon.
The common problems
Your use of Excel in key business processes can expose you to a number of problems:
- Basic mistakes: Some staff are making basic mistakes that are costly to identify and resolve down the line.
- Regulatory / audit problems: Your reliance on Excel and a lack of control around these key spreadsheets could be a major problem in your next audit.
- Over-reliance on specific staff: There are only a few key people in your operational areas who know how certain processes and spreadsheets work. You know that if they left, you’d really struggle.
- Costly to train new staff: It is difficult to get new staff up to speed as processes are not well-defined. Some seem to work like some sort of black magic.
- Expensive staff focused on low-value tasks: Experienced staff are spending too much time on manual tasks, preventing them from focusing on higher-value activities.
- Constraint to growth: The business is growing but certain processes are not able to scale, resulting in a near-linear growth in costs.
It is stressful to deal with the same issues over and over again.
It is frustrating when there is no clear, obvious way to permanently eliminate the issues.
You feel like you are in a constant firefight, reacting to the latest problem. You find yourself avoiding certain people so you don’t hear about the latest mess.
You are worried that one of your key staff members will leave, taking all of their operational knowledge with them.
You have very little time to focus on more profitable (and interesting) activities. Fire-fighting is taking up too much of your time.
Too many long days dealing with the same errors over and over again.
Stress. Frustration. Long days.
None of these were in your job spec.
How can I help?
Hi, I am Sam Glynn.
I enable senior executives to free up their time so they can focus on their real job.
I have worked in IT within financial services for over 20 years. In those years, and despite my early disdain for the product, I know Excel provides valuable capabilities to operational teams. It may be a ‘simple end-user tool’, but it is capable of solving real business problems.
I have also seen how organisations have exposed themselves to large costs, audit problems, and other significant pain because they have not put pragmatic controls and measures in place to ensure their reliance on Excel is understood and appropriately managed.
These problems can consume a significant amount of time, especially for the senior executives who get dragged in to the firefight when things have gone wrong.
I use my 20+ years of IT and business change experience to ensure you avoid or resolve the issues that can arise as a result of your dependence on Excel in your key business processes.
Who do I work with?
Most of my clients have senior roles within financial services organisations. Many are based in Dublin city centre and the IFSC.
Many of my clients work within the Irish operations of a global organisation, and have a growing business team but limited access to technical expertise.
What problems do I solve?
Over the years, I have helped solve many problems – System implementation, project management, vendor replacement, technical architecture design and refresh, IT security guidance and staff training, and data protection.
The problems I now frequently solve are caused by an organisation’s reliance on Excel on their key business processes.
Don’t let the simplicity of Excel distract you from the complex solutions that it can deliver.
Ignore the technology purists: Excel may be the right solution for your organisation:
- It is a very powerful and user-friendly tool. It is difficult to find the same level of flexibility and power elsewhere.
- The core systems of your organisation may be unable to do what the spreadsheets do.
- It may be difficult to get budget or resources to make the required changes to the core systems.
- The people who control the systems and resources may not even want to know about your problems – They’re too busy with other priorities.
However, Excel can also introduce various problems within an organisation. For example:
- A key process may rely on the accuracy of data produced by, and formulae / code stored in, Excel spreadsheets. How do you maintain this accuracy?
- Only one person may know how the spreadsheets work. What do you do when this person leaves? Or gets hit by a bus?
- Very little may in place to prevent someone inadvertently (or maliciously) changing a key formula or macro in a spreadsheet. Would you like to have to explain this to the regulator?
- There may not be a way to identify when something has gone wrong. Errors will go unnoticed until it is too late and expensive to resolve.
How do I solve them?
My solution may involve implementing controls within or around your spreadsheets or processes. It may involve replacing some of the functionality with something more appropriate.
It depends on the specific risks and issues you are currently dealing with and the specific business outcome that you require.
Who I am not
I am not another technology person
Your past experiences with technology people may have been pretty poor:
- They focus on the technology, not the business outcome.
- They can be difficult to work with. A simple question seldom results in a simple answer.
- They are unreliable. Calls not returned; commitments not met.
- Their estimates are pie-in-the-sky and costs usually exceed what you expected.
- Their solutions introduce more complexity and ongoing cost into the business.
Who I am
I know tech. I speak plain English.
I know technology but my clients engage me because I can help them solve business problems.
- I know technology: I have worked in IT for 20+ years. I have a BSc in Computer Science, MSc in Technology Management, and spent 15 years employed in various IT roles within the financial services industry. LinkedIn can tell you more.
- I know the real world: After 15 years in-house, I have worked for over 7 years as an independent IT adviser to financial services organisations, including 2 years advising businesses about the parallel universe of GDPR. I know the real world.
- I know the regulated world: I have been through more Central Bank and external audits than I care to remember. I know the importance of demonstrating controlled processes and strict change management procedures. Developing technical solutions in a compliant way is second nature to me.
- I know how to speak plain English: I speak about business problems and technology solutions in plain English. The techie stuff happens behind the scenes.
I focus on simple and reliable solutions.
I focus on achieving a business outcome as quickly and simply as possible.
- I dislike ‘perfect’: I prefer a good solution that gets delivered quickly. In an ideal world, ‘perfect’ is better than ‘good’. In the real world, ‘perfect’ usually requires far more time and money, and the result can be complex and inflexible.
- I dislike ‘complex’: I prefer simple solutions because complexity usually means more cost and less reliability.
- I dislike ‘shiny’: I prefer solutions that re-use the technology you already have in your business. There are switching costs and risks associated with changing or implementing new technology. If I recommend a new technology, there will be very clear business reasons. At the end of the day, you need a solution, not more technology.
“How you do anything is how you do everything”.
The big things obviously matter. But I also know the importance of the small things.
- I know what I know: I will tell you if I don’t think I can help you. It does not help either of us if I work on a problem that cannot benefit from my knowledge and experience.
- I hate optimistic estimates and missed deadlines: I am pragmatic with estimates. When I state a completion date, it will be met.
- I hate the invisible man: If you email me (or call me when I can’t answer), I will always strive to respond to you within 24 hours (but probably sooner).
- I hate the unknown: If I state a fixed price (and I usually strive to do so), that will be the price you pay. I bear the risk of getting the price wrong.
I guarantee better outcomes:
- The number and cost of mistakes will drastically fall
- Your over-reliance on specific staff will cease
- New staff will be able to get up-to-speed faster
- Experienced staff will be able to focus on higher value tasks
- You will have more time to do your ‘real’ job
- You will get ahead of your peers
No song and dance.
Just focused, pragmatic improvements to ensure you are always getting better.
Am I not for you?
I am not a good fit for every business or every business problem.
- If your primary focus is cost rather than a successful outcome: I’m not the cheapest option. (But will the cheapest option just clock up hours or actually deliver the outcome you need?)
- If your problem is not an immediate concern: A problem that is a bit of a pain but not something you are really concerned about resolving is probably not worth solving.
- If you have already decided on the solution or technology: If you just need someone to implement a solution you have already chosen, and you do not want to discuss whether this is actually the best solution to deliver the business outcome you need, I am probably not the right person for you.
If you think we could work together, I’d be delighted to talk by phone, over Skype or Zoom, or even to meet face-to-face.
You can contact me at (01) 554 6268. If I am unable to answer, just leave your details and I will call you back.
Alternatively, you can get in touch using the form below.
If necessary, I can send you a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in advance of our conversation so you can be certain that everything we discuss will remain confidential.