The Client

A leading derivatives broker and clearer with operations in the US and abroad. 

The Challenge

In order to provide the best possible technology to its customers, our client needed to rebuild its legacy futures and options platform, which at that point had been in place for more than 10 years. As a QuickFIX user, the client was familiar with Connamara and the firm’s expertise in financial services.

From a project standpoint, the sheer scope and scale of the platform was a challenge. With a platform that had been in production for over a decade, many of its capabilities had been added in piecemeal fashion over the years — and some of this functionality was only useful to a small number of users, while other functionality was no longer useful at all. 

When replacing legacy systems, the directive from the business is usually just “make it do what our old system does, only newer and better.” Fortunately, the client’s team knew the priority of the functionality needed to make it “newer and better”. In terms of specific goals for the new platform, the client wanted to build a more configurable and flexible trading system, improve the traceability of domain messages inside the legacy trading system, and further standardize the software development methodology.

The Solution

Connamara worked with various stakeholders, from senior management, to the company’s software developers, to business users of the platform, in order to implement a solution that addressed the needs of all. The process began with a system discovery and specification phase. With so many features in the legacy platform, cataloging and prioritizing those features — essentially determining what would be included in the new platform — was a constant task.

When it came time to begin the project, Connamara provided a business analyst with extensive capital markets experience to ensure the platform was being designed to hit all of the project’s business goals. This analyst also coached the development team in the Connamara agile development methodology, which is used to enhance the efficiency of the project and the customizability of the platform. Then, during the buildout of the platform, Connamara augmented the development team with software engineers.

As often happens in projects of longer duration, operational business requirements can change over the course of the project. In this case, a new execution venue was added and a different execution venue was eliminated while development work on the system was taking place. By staying agile, Connamara was able to adapt to the new requirements seamlessly.

The Results

The new platform launched within 18 months and provided an immediate upgrade over the legacy platform in multiple ways. The new platform:

  • Had excellent unit and acceptance test coverage using an acceptance testing framework.
  • Had enhanced traceability of messages and the ability to “replay” messages to test system behavior, which allowed for easier support of production applications.
  • Allowed the client to migrate order execution from one venue to another venue without facing limitations of the order management system, providing increased flexibility.
  • Reduced the need for manual execution of certain complex options strategies, which has resulted in a hard dollar cost savings for the business.