For helping keep fintech projects aligned to strategy
When Jaime Lama Collado started at the Dominican Republic Stock Exchange in 2018, the organization was just beginning to shift its strategic approach to align projects to real business needs. But in the fickle world of fintech, he realized the growing pains were perilous.
“It used to be that the company built the scope of its projects with a limited understanding of customer needs,” he says. That often meant that products and services “weren’t a market fit.”
But no more: “Now projects don’t get funding unless they’re validated by external entities and customers, so we reduce or remove rework,” Lama Collado says. “And now they tell us about their business needs right away because they acknowledged the capacity that our institution has built in every aspect of our project delivery process to the point that they have become our most important project sponsors.”
As the product and innovation lead, Lama Collado has a hand in more than a dozen fintech projects a year. He also was the first person in the Dominican Republic to earn a PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)® certification. “That made me a champion for business analysis in the DR.”
Here’s how his strategic vision makes him a better project leader:
How do you align projects with business objectives?
With the projects I deliver, I intend to open new revenue streams for the Dominican Stock Exchange. I help the company prioritize efforts that will have a positive impact on the bottom line.
Can you describe a specific project that benefited from such alignment?
We have a lot of traffic on our hands because every investor in the Dominican Republic goes to our website and engages with our products to find answers for their investment questions or needs. So we developed a portal where all our brokers are listed. Anyone who wants to become a retail investor can go to this interface and quickly see a description of each and every broker in the Dominican Republic and can quickly interact with them to open new investor accounts.
It also gave me a lot of satisfaction to know I’m helping people become investors, and I’m helping my stakeholders achieve one of their biggest and most difficult business objectives: to grow their customer base.
How does the strategic plan help prioritize projects?
A strategic plan draws a growth roadmap that aligns institutional efforts. Projects that don’t land within the strategic scope won’t receive investment, which allows the company to have more resources to invest in the projects that will help realize the business objectives. We have created a portfolio of more than 15 business solutions that have contributed to double trading volume, improving our bottom line substantially.
How do you approach your leadership role?
I establish efficient communication channels between our users—like brokers and pension funds—and our organization. So we receive a consistent flow of requirements and needs from the market, and we can develop products that meet those needs and deliver value to our customers. For example, we were able to develop an input interface that removed three steps from the process that investors had to go through to successfully place orders in secondary markets.
What’s the biggest challenge to ensuring strategic alignment?
We are a unique company in our country and serve a constantly evolving industry. When you have to deal with so many counterparts with different business models and niche strategies, it becomes an enormous task to define common acceptable business criteria. It’s very common that conflicts arise, so we need to develop conflict management. We have 16 brokerage houses, and one can have a business need or request that another doesn’t want or need. We make a big effort to consolidate all our stakeholders’ business needs so we provide them with products they can all accept and use. The key is to provide them a platform where they can all provide input and collaborate.
Q&A: Jaime Lama Collado on embracing technology and trendspotting
How did the pandemic change the way you manage projects?
It introduced more technology into our everyday workflow. And it changed the speed in which the market requests innovation from us.
What’s one way managing projects will change over the next decade?
Technology won’t replace human workers. Human workers who use technology will replace those who don’t.
What project has most influenced you personally?
A fixed-rate instrument calculator. The Dominican Stock Exchange didn’t have its own calculator, and it took us a year and a half to deliver it. If I wanted to meet the project schedule, I had to get involved in the development process. So I had to learn a programming language. It changed me as a project manager and business analyst. Now I have a more technical mindset—in a way where I can design solutions from a developer’s point of view and have a lot more engagement with the engineers who will be building the projects in the future.
What’s the one must-have skill to succeed in The Project Economy?
The ability to communicate effectively. In The Project Economy, we’re the bridge and the translator between the technological world and the business world.
What’s the biggest challenge facing young project leaders?
Every day there’s a new technology or a new trend that everybody wants. Young leaders need to identify which trends will and won’t affect their business.
What famous person would you want on your project team?
Elon Musk, because he thinks outside the box. If there’s a business problem now that the world hasn’t been able to solve, conventional thinking won’t solve it. Innovation is a huge buzzword now, but innovation requires an unconventional approach.