Transforming Dutch Banking Giant to Satisfy New Challenges
While Rabobank was one of the few Dutch banks that did not require government assistance during the worst of the financial crisis, the institute faced new challenges; complying with tough new market regulations and improving business responsiveness and continuity.
To address these challenges, Rabobank planned to streamline the organization and increase efficiency by merging the back offices of the domestic and international businesses. “There is a focus on compliance across the group and not doing things twice,” explains Jeroen Bijl, manager of monitoring, Rabobank. “Integrating the two parts of the business gives one central point, with one IT department to service the entire business.”
This required a major cultural shift from cumbersome highly customized internal processes that responded to market opportunities relatively slowly, to an agile proactive environment that supports a more efficient and responsive standardized landscape.
IT Vision to Support Business Strategy
Rabobank is a long-term customer of Micro Focus. “We use a lot of [Micro Focus] software including Operations Manager i, Service Manager, and Operations Orchestration,” says Bijl. “[Micro Focus] has served us well but we wanted more than tools.”
We required help to define a vision for the business and how IT could help us get there.”
For Rabobank this required a new IT relationship. The bank wanted a strategy to maximize the value of its IT investment and drive overall business efficiency. Moreover, the organization sought a fully optimized toolset to add value to the business.
Three-Layered Micro Focus Solution Supports Business Strategy
Working in partnership, Micro Focus supported Rabobank’s new business strategy by providing a three-layered solution. First, Micro Focus Professional Services provided consulting services around the application of the IT4IT mindset and reference architecture, which helped Rabobank derive more value from its IT software through better integration and utilization of cross-product efficiencies.
Secondly, Professional Services helped Rabobank to apply that reference architecture, starting with the Detect-to-Correct value stream. By optimizing the architecture through the standardization and integration of a number of Micro Focus solutions, Rabobank leveraged a number of cross-solution efficiencies.
Finally this solution was augmented by Micro Focus Software Flexible Care Support (FlexCare), a flexible support service that enables Rabobank to proactively resolve product and integration-related issues.
Together, all three solution layers combine under the IT4IT framework to provide increased operational efficiencies, optimized performance and a uniform way of communicating, affording Rabobank greater visibility and accountability of IT performance.
Layer One: A New Reference Architecture and Partnership
As part of the Open Group, a vendor and technology neutral consortium, Micro Focus actively encourages the use of the IT4IT framework, an industry developed reference architecture for managing IT. The architecture connects all IT functions across the service lifecycle in a modular value chain approach. Rabobank could therefore choose a starting point based on business goals and IT maturity level.
With IT4IT, Micro Focus drove discussions towards a prescriptive reference architecture where conformity towards standards and optimized configuration of the solutions became priorities, moving the bank away from a product-centric methodology.
Rabobank partnered with Micro Focus to introduce an innovative Micro Focus solution, empowered by IT4IT and implemented by Professional Services. This solution transformed the bank by creating an overarching IT framework that maintains a high degree of business continuity and creates a platform for innovation.
“We saw the appeal of the approach immediately,” comments Bijl. “The IT4IT solution shows how to fit the different software tooling together and how they work collectively while bringing in different stakeholders from across the business. The solution also shows us how the steps connect and how these are linked to the future of the business. Micro Focus has been a key innovation partner during the implementation of the framework.”
Bijl says the success of this implementation was underpinned by two things. Firstly, the IT4IT solution brings together all parts of the business, not just IT and, secondly, the expert advice provided by Professional Services.
“As partners, we had a clear and open dialog,” adds Bijl. “We explained what we wanted in the future and [Micro Focus] had the mandate to show us how we can improve matters. The relationship with [Micro Focus] works because the company has a history of getting things to work.”
Layer Two: Applying IT4IT with Professional Services
The second solution layer comprises products based on the Detect-to-Correct (D2C) principal.
The main components of this layer are Micro Focus Service Manager, an integrated and automated service lifecycle management tool, Micro Focus Universal CMDB, and Micro Focus Operations Manager i.
Operations Manager i improves operational efficiency and proactively performs root cause analysis, accelerating incident resolution times. Operations Orchestration helps Rabobank to automate IT processes, improving service quality and customer satisfaction while reducing costs and increasing the correct resolution rate. Universal CMDB, a configuration management database solution, helps to standardize the bank’s IT environment by automatically collecting and managing essential IT process information about service definitions, infrastructure relationships and assets.
Layer Three: Adding Provactive Support with Software FlexCare Support
The final solution layer is FlexCare, which supports the bank’s entire IT management portfolio providing Rabobank with greater value from its IT investment via an on-going partnership with a Micro Focus Support team. This highly adaptable collection of support services ensures the bank’s solutions deliver greater business value.
Rabobank is now continuing its transformational journey under the IT4IT framework, moving up the value chain via the fulfilment phase towards the DevOps domains of the new architecture. Micro Focus continues to support the bank by addressing business continuity and responsiveness and helping senior executives to augment business value from the firm’s software solutions.
Strategy and Momentum
Rabobank does not regard the adoption of the IT4IT Solution as a one-off intervention and the framework’s success has been driven by the expertise of Professional Services. “We see IT4IT Solutions as continuous engagement,” states Bijl. “You have to determine actions and then implement and tune. You’re always learning, always looking to add new services or improve the experience.”
He says the last point is crucial for maintaining momentum and delivering proof points. “We’ve already seen the benefit of adopting the IT4IT Solution as the new framework prescribed for the integration of Universal CMDB and Operations Manager i,” declares Bijl. “The integration worked well and we could absorb the data and reapply the information in new scenarios. We don’t have to learn things twice.”
Another major benefit of adopting the IT4IT Solution involved addressing application monitoring issues, one of the IT value streams. “We’d been struggling with identifying the root cause of problems due to a lack of central visibility,” reveals Bijl. “[Micro Focus] suggested Operations Bridge (OpsBridge) which is one of the items currently on our roadmap to implement.
“Operations Manager i has proved extremely beneficial for our control room,” confirms Bijl. “It’s a solid solution that gathers all the information we need into one place. Determining the cause of a problem now only takes minutes and we provide our support teams with in-depth information. Automation helps to reduce costs and improves reporting and follow-ups.”
Bijl says he had no hesitation about learning from Professional Services and welcomes the organization’s contribution to the bank’s multi-layered solution based on the IT4IT architecture. “I’m sure we could have implemented the tools ourselves but I doubt we’d have been as successful,” says Bijl. “Employing [Professional] Services is an investment as it brings global, industry-wide expertise.”
Support Resolves and Prevents Incidents
FlexCare Support plays a vital role too by increasing uptime and improving performance. This service simplifies the bank’s overall technical support experience by providing a named account manager, with any issue from any product going through a single point of contact. “FlexCare is like having a person on the inside,” notes Bijl. “This service has reduced outage times and resolved incidents much faster. It certainly helps us feel connected to [Micro Focus].”
Bijl says FlexCare Support is as much about fixing as preventing issues: “We discuss metrics monthly,” he recalls. “[Micro Focus] solves between 10 and 30 incidents a month, which is quite a lot. But the focus is then on preventing the issue happening again. The insight gained helps Micro Focus build additional functionality and increased quality into future software releases.”
Today, Rabobank is reaping all the advantages of shifting to a highly agile and proactive IT landscape, unifying operations across the entire business, boosting business responsiveness and continuity while delivering value to customers. “We aim for a 9+ customer experience, which means no downtime and solid services, which helps our reputation as a trusted bank,” concludes Bijl.