Last March we were able to successfully migrate a 5th customer to our new order management system MAX. I would like to take this as an opportunity to look back on the development of MAX so far and describe some of the insights our Software Development Team has made and which challenges we have faced.
After the merger in 2017, we have been confronted with the task of consolidating two companies with similar software products. Both order management systems GLOX and XKYTE have aspects in common and their own key strengths, but also specific customer requirements that we as a provider have to take into account.
Our goal is to unite the two products and to combine our efforts on the further development of the new MAX product. In doing so, we want to honour our long-standing relationships with many customers by implementing as many features and benefits of the existing systems as possible. Some of the expected advantages of MAX are:
In the background, we want to create a common basis for the two previously independent development teams in Urdorf and Aachen to carry out the upcoming development work.
Personal contact is important for strengthening team spirit. That is why the first priority is for all employees to get to know each other in an informal context. The starting point was the joint summer party in 2018, which we held in Stuttgart due to the good accessibility from Aachen and Urdorf.
For the beginning of 2020, many mutual visits in Germany and Switzerland were planned. We wanted each employee to get to know the other location as well as their new colleagues. In this step, a series of meetings on software topics were also planned.
Since everyone cannot undertake such a business trip at the same time, a Zoom TV and Zoom as a video conferencing tool was planned. Unfortunately, we were not be able to realise any personal visits due to the worldwide lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our digital communication tools are nonetheless helping to further advance cross-site communication and cross-team collaboration. Big thanks must go to all employees for managing this difficult situation so well together.
At the moment, we are still aware of our differences, but the location no longer really plays a role. Everyone ist taking on tasks independently of their location and rather depending on their area of responsibility. This process of change is still ongoing, as we try to achieve a sustainable pace of work in which no one has to permanently exhaust themselves in order to meet the deadline for project completion.
I am very pleased that we have been able to implement these projects mostly to plan in the past "Corona year". Despite the different personal situations in our teams in Germany and Switzerland, we are always able to act quickly and without losing sight of our goals. Potential for improvement is also revealed, which we continuously identify and work on internally.
Our first pilot customer went live with MAX as early as January 2020, with two more customers following in the same year. Since then, MAX has been used productively - including interfaces for future implementations or new functions. For example, we have greatly expanded our fund and share trading. An overview of the MAX services developed so far can be found here:
The events of the past year have caused much exertion for MACD. Parallel to the ongoing operations, we also relocated our hardware to a new data centre. This and other successful projects will form the basis for further positive developments. Not only will we will be able to complete the migration of additional customers before the end of the first half of 2021, but further projects have been initiated, so that the work in ongoing.
Based on the experience gained, we can work on optimising the implementation cycle time. Above all, the subsequent feedback-loop of user experience with the new software and lessons learned from the pilot customers allows us to integrate potential improvements into fundamental considerations for MAX at a very early stage.
In 2020, I took extensive time with the software engineering team to discuss the pros and cons of some aspects. This resulted in the following four core topics that we are currently working on:
We are working on merging our automatic build and release processes from both systems. We are also working on an Installer for automated deployment of the MAX client. This will mean that all customers will be able to benefit from the ease of installation we previously had with the GLOX client.
Automated build and release chains are important to sustainably improve system quality. They allow us to provide system releases to customers without restricting the operation of the software, so that improvements are implemented as unnoticed by our customers and partners as possible. What's more, these releases are well documented, repeatable and also testable. This reduces manual errors on the software development side and enables us to improve the MAX system week by week.
Here, too, the merging of the business functions of XKYTE and GLOX is in full swing. Over the years of operation of our previous order management systems, many meaningful and useful customisations have been made and the digitalisation of real business cases that were analogue until then has been undertaken.
In this way, our two systems have grown continuously and have been able to create ever greater benefits for our network, consisting of banks, brokers and exchanges. Our challenge here is to create a common basis for all the necessary requirements.
The messaging hubs FIXHub and SWIFTHub are not even visible to customers. Nevertheless, they fulfil an essential task: they function as nodes for FIX or SWIFT messages and forward the message about an order or execution from the sender to the correct recipient in the network using configurable rule sets.
With the successful go-live of SIX Global Fund Services last November via our SWIFTHub, we were able to expand our funds area. Further improvements are planned for the FIXHub with regard to the logging and monitoring of message flows. This will make the FIXHub, one of our core components for the connectivity of our clients and partners, even more reliable.
The user interface MAX MARKET GUI rounds off the range of MAX services. The basis for this is our proven Global Information Service, which enables the dynamic management and handling of instruments. MAX users thus always have a full overview of the market. To implement this, it is necessary that we further reduce the dependency on locally imported static data.
In all the processes and developments aimed at providing a powerful and reliable order management system, it is not only our software development, technical account management and system and network administration teams that make an immense contribution on a daily basis.
Especially in the initial phase, but also in the further course, our customers and partners support us in various ways to achieve this goal. I am very confident that the coming months will again bring a lot of progress.