Flexible WSS archiving solution delivered remotely

Scalable OmniFi-based approach meets audit requirements

Challenge

When global medical devices provider Medtronic bought Wallstreet Suite (WSS) user Covidien in 2015, the acquiring firm decided the merged entity should use ION’s Reval platform as its treasury management system. Subsequent transition discussions with SkySparc, which had provided enhanced reporting capabilities for much of Covidien’s time as a WSS client, revealed the need for an archiving solution. In particular, Medtronic needed to provide its auditors with periodic access to seven years of historical transactions, executed and recorded within the cash management (CMM) and treasury and risk management (TRM) modules of the WSS platform. The firm would require third-party expertise in constructing and creating an archiving solution, given the lack of WSS experience within the merged IT and treasury teams.

Prior to the merger, Covidien had become an extensive user of the reporting capabilities of OmniFi, SkySparc’s data management and process integration tool, to extract information from WSS for auditing purposes. As such, Medtronic recognized the appeal of an OmniFi-based archiving solution which leveraged existing workflows to continue to meet auditors’ requirements.

To this end, Medtronic agreed that the development and implementation of an archiving solution by SkySparc would proceed in tandem with the firm’s migration of other data and processes from WSS to Reval. Because of the need to provide auditors with whatever information they required to validate accounting entries, Medtronic required a highly agile solution from SkySparc. Not being able to predict which transactions the auditors would need to see meant the solution had to provide flexible and comprehensive access, allowing users to pull out the required information themselves. After SkySparc provided a range of options, Medtronic decided to choose a database-led approach.

Solution

SkySparc’s approach to the project was guided by its established four-stage archiving methodology (pre-study, build & execution, validation, and go-live), but tailored to Medtronic’s specific needs, such as the need to extract data related to two WSS modules.

The initial scope for the archiving solution was based on a series of business cases which included details of the existing OmniFi-based transaction reports that would need to be replicated using archived data for audit purposes. In the pre-study phase, the project scope and deliverables were refined, validated and documented, to take account of some of the larger reports to be drawn from the archive. A high-level proof of concept of the archiving solution was also proposed and agreed.

The build stage started with the selection and installation of the underlying database hardware and software by Medtronic’s IT team, and the implementation of the latest version of OmniFi, which would be used to query the database and extract the information required by auditors. SkySparc consultants then had to write the scripts to extract the data needed to populate the reports and build the archive database to ensure all relevant source data would be available.

For this latter task, SkySparc consultants had to extract data from the WSS production environment, create a database model for the data within the database platform set up by Medtronic, then load the data extracted from WSS into the new archive database model. The final stage involved building an OmniFi-based solution for accessing the archived data according to user needs.

To validate the solution, a series of test cases was run on OmniFi to ensure the data pulled from the database in response to the queries was the same as that retrieved from the WSS production environment. The results of the test cases, based on known auditor requirements, were automatically reconciled by OmniFi to identify and eliminate any discrepancies.

Although project practice deviated slightly from theory, a flexible approach helped to ensure it stayed on track. The parallel migration project to Reval often had to take priority, from an internal resource perspective, meaning the timeline on the archiving project slipped back from initial plans for a Q4 2019 start. In the event, tasks related to the building of the solution got fully under way in February 2020, just as the scale of the social and business impact of Covid-19 was becoming apparent.

This meant the entire project was delivered remotely, with frequent video calls replacing site visits. The need to operate and communicate remotely had an impact on how SkySparc delivered the solution compared to previous archiving projects, both of which had involved onsite liaison.

Delivery was largely achieved via series of interactive webinars, during which SkySparc consultants would explain the latest iteration of the solution to Medtronic staff, then provide user access rights to the solution to allow Medtronic to test and explore it.

Although there were some hiccups along the way as all parties familiarized themselves with new communications channels, there were also benefits, with great discipline and focus by both teams, for example, to ensure presentations and related documentation were as clear as possible.

The iterative cycle of SkySparc updating the solution, handing it over to Medtronic for testing, then responding to feedback with further updates, was followed all the way up to the go live. Once Medtronic was satisfied with the final solution, in-house IT staff were able to implement and run it with no need of further support from SkySparc, following presentation of the solution and its supporting documentation and sign-off.

We’re very pleased with the work done by the SkySparc team to create the WSS Archive for Medtronic and I am happy to report testing of all the functions has been completed.

Todd Olson, Senior Treasury Program Manager, Treasury Systems & Special Projects, Medtronic

Benefits

Although the start of the archiving project was postponed from its original launch, the project came in under budget and within schedule, providing seamless migration of data to the new database and reliable, accurate and user-friendly access to historical transactions. Medtronic senior treasury program manager Todd Olson appreciated in particular that the project progressed with relatively little need for client oversight in order to deliver a solution tailored to its specific needs.

Both elements of the project were extensive, with the TRM module including 2,100 portfolios containing 260 different instrument types, while the CMM module contained 19 million balances and more than three million transactions from more than 2,000 bank accounts.

“We’re very pleased with the work done by the SkySparc team to create the WSS Archive for Medtronic and I am happy to report testing of all the functions has been completed,” said Olson.

As a result of this and earlier archiving projects, SkySparc now has a tried and tested methodology for transferring and storing data from both the CMM and TRM modules into a dedicated and easily accessible database.

Looking forward, now that Medtronic has successfully migrated to Reval, the firm has expressed an interest in using OmniFi’s testing capabilities to provide quality assurance when upgrading, customizing its newly installed TMS.