Allen Bernard - November 19, 2019

Credit Suisse Reimagines IT with TBM

Credit Suisse's IT department now focuses on delivering end-to-end services instead of products. This has increased efficiency, eased regulator risk, and strengthened the working relationship between IT and the business.

 

 

Case study

Up until 2017, global banking powerhouse Credit Suisse's IT department was a bit of an island. IT wasn't isolated from the rest of the organization, but it wasn't particularly well integrated either. The main issue driving a wedge between IT and the business was IT's focus on delivering products as opposed to services.

Dealing with IT was transactional, based on a menu of a la carte services from which the business could pick and choose. While not a bad thing on its surface, it was an inefficient delivery model. Cost transparency also suffered from the inability to link IT's costs to business outcomes.

"In the past, IT was very much a siloed organization," said Desiree Shot, Credit Suisse's TBM Implementation lead. "You produce reports and you present them once a month. [We were] not really talking to each other much in terms of … the real drivers of your costs and how you benchmark and measure against the industry."

But, even though they lacked transparency into the value of technology spending and how they rated compared to their banking peers, IT was not a black box.

"We were pretty mature in terms of the way we managed technology spend," said Austin Murray, global head of the TBM Office. "We had application total cost of ownership. We had some of the right practices in place around consumption-based charging. We were pretty good at having conversations with the business about their priorities to make sure that we were optimizing spend. So we were reasonably mature."

Transforming IT

But these efforts only went so far. The pressure to justify the value of IT to the organization was constant so, in 2017, they launched a two-pronged, multi-year strategy to transform IT into an organization that was value-driven and service-orientated.

The IT infrastructure model was re-architected to offer clients end-to-end services instead of individual products. A key component of this effort was transforming IT's financial management through the adoption of TBM and Apptio, which served as the foundation for a service-based financial management framework that automated IT budgeting and forecasting.

"So, if I can give you a specific example of that, just to make it a little easier to understand: If we think about the process of onboarding a new [employee] to the bank," said Murray, "historically, line managers would be looking to order lots of different products: perhaps a desktop, perhaps a telephone, perhaps a bunch of access rights; often not knowing exactly what they were looking for from the technology organization.

"We have evolved from that to implementing a service. So, in that particular example, the line manager would order a service to onboard a new joiner and within that service they would get everything that they needed. So a much more client-focused approach to managing the organization."

The second objective was maximizing the value of IT through the introduction of TBM and service owners. They also gave their service owners the responsibility and authority to source resources and spend budget in whatever manner they felt would best maximize value. This was an important change from their previous operating model.

"We have been through a number of years of cost reduction activity," said Murray. "Technology is a very significant spend in most organizations and the requirements to continue to innovate, to support, and to justify the spend is always there. We were at the stage in 2017 where we were really looking to further optimize, not necessarily reduce costs, but to get more value for the [IT] dollars that we had within Credit Suisse."

As a result, IT is now in a better position to make spending prioritization decisions, investment choices, and set service levels in by consulting with the business and IT. This closed-loop process aligns service demand to costs while enabling proactive management of IT's finances.

As a bonus, they have leveraged the TBM framework to better manage regulatory risk by identifying and tracking the underlying assets that support each service. This makes auditing faster, easier, more accurate, while giving IT the information they need to ensure those assets are secure.

All of this has significantly improved operational efficiency, commercial focus, and organizational agility.

From costs to value

Adopting a services-orientated culture that is empowered by TBM data, and backed-up by Apptio reporting, has changed the way IT and the business communicate. Now that they no longer focus just on cost, IT has a much bigger role to play in advancing the best, most cost-effective technologies the business needs.

"As we go through our journey and we become more services-oriented, what that really does is bring us closer to the organization," said Shot. "It better enables … more value-add discussions, a better seat at the table, and be able to drive conversations.

"What that does is it helps us to manage the demand for infrastructure better. It certainly provides more insights to our clients about how they're consuming infrastructure, enabling them to think about better ways for us to work collectively to understand any incremental costs to the bank and to weigh those costs against the benefits or, even better, how to take costs out of the bank.

"So working together and collaboratively I would say is probably one of the better ways to describe how we're a bit more agile and how we can react to changing circumstances."

The key between doing this with or without TBM is, with TBM, all of these changes are supported by data. This is new to many IT organizations who often labor to deliver against financial results that were based on assumptions—only to see those assumptions up-ended by quarterly variance numbers.

"For me, the power of [TBM] insights is about being a data-driven decision-making organization," said Murray. "We're at the point where we're data savvy … we have a good understanding of the value of data. We can see the strategic benefit that we get from harnessing and utilizing data. The next step in our aspirational journey is to become truly data-driven. That will enable us to become a more innovative organization. It will undoubtedly enable us to … be one of the best organizations on the street, which is what we want to be."

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