Home Technology Deutsche Bank and GFT – a Tale of Innovation and Collaboration, Transforming IT Operations and Culture

Deutsche Bank and GFT – a Tale of Innovation and Collaboration, Transforming IT Operations and Culture

by internationalbanker

By Alpesh Tailor, Executive Director at GFT and Global Account Manager for Deutsche Bank, Capital Markets

Back in 2015, Deutsche Bank embarked on an ambitious 20:20 strategy, organised around four strategic goals – to become simpler, more efficient, to modernise outdated technology and reduce risk. To help achieve this, they invited pitches for a major multi-million-pound platform overhaul. GFT was approached as part of this invitation for proposals, but initially declined , recognising that delivering this ambitious project – and importantly, Deutsche Bank’s business goals – would require the bank to revise not only its project scope, but also overhaul its IT functional structure, processes and ways of working.

GFT challenged Deutsche Bank’s senior leaders to adopt a new approach – kick-starting a future partnership that would centre on challenging norms and pushing boundaries, as well as a commitment to putting business needs and value above all else. The result of this new approach was dbPalace – an ambitious build and roll-out of one of the largest and most powerful platforms in the bank’s history, whilst simultaneously transforming the IT department’s culture and ways of working.

The challenge 

It is not an easy process to update methods of working. It is a learning process for staff, and it was important to prove that agility was something that went beyond the latest business lingo. Driving progress requires real ambition, and has to go beyond short term wins. GFT worked as an extension of the internal team and their knowledge of the banking industry and of Deutsche Bank’s systems made them a valuable partner in delivering his initiative.<span class="su-quote-cite">Chris Bezuidenhout, CIO for Markets Finance at Deutsche Bank </span>
There were 38 systems in place within the Global Finance Business of Deutsche Bank, with scope for 33 of them to be removed or consolidated since they were common in functional coverage but very different in terms of business area or location footprint. Over the years, the business – which provides complex trading services to institutions worldwide – and its Product Controllers & Financial Directors (responsible for daily business critical processes such as Risk & Profit & Loss (P&L)) had come to rely on over 4,000 disparate applications and spreadsheets. For users, this meant laborious and time-consuming data input, data inaccuracy and duplication of effort. For senior managers, it meant no there was no single view or overarching control. 

A key objective for the dbPalace transformation initiative was to simplify core platforms and consolidate the core functions of P&L production and Valuation Control into a single platform. 

Breaking down global boundaries

To deliver such an ambitious initiative successfully, the team needed to break down operational boundaries between ‘the business’ and ‘IT’, to ensure that more than 200 people globally were working in a way that was synchronised with business demand. To make this a reality, the team worked together to radically overhaul its working practices, and to give people the freedom and mandate to drive change and bring products to market faster than ever. 

GFT and Deutsche Bank adopted a scaled Agile delivery approach – a game changer for the initiative, with a 35% increase in velocity and 52% reduction in defect rates, at a 50% lower cost point within the first year. Strong business sponsorship was at the heart of this, with business users embedded in the delivery team, driving design and weekly prioritisation of effort.

Team work and training

The collaboration amongst the whole dbPalace team has made the project a truly effective partnership. There is no distinction or walls between locations, or internal versus external members; exactly how a team should work collaboratively and deliver a common goal. This success has defined the ‘gold standard’ for other strategic IT programmes within the bank – and the entire team is delighted for this project to have been awarded first place for ‘Best Fintech partnership’ at the Financial Innovation Awards.<span class="su-quote-cite">Alpesh Tailor, Executive Director at GFT and Global Account Manager for Deutsche Bank, Capital Markets </span>
Key to the success of the partnership was the rejection of a ‘them and us’ model, in favour of a unified team across the two businesses, with shared values and ways of working. Every scrum team included GFT team members, and employees from each company underwent the same training, to enable them to work seamlessly together and to ensure consistency in both quality and delivery. Key business sponsors were trained in the scaled Agile methodology employed alongside global IT teams.

This led to a real sense of momentum and shared achievement, as well as a team that was indistinguishable between the business and IT. This enabled a common language around technical design, impact on business process and key considerations for prioritisation, such as cost of delay, business value, technical and architectural debt.

With a need to reduce release times and ensure the bank can respond quickly to market & business changes in the long term (whilst reducing costs), Deutsche Bank also sought to repatriate intellectual property (previously 70% of development was outsourced), by establishing an in-house development team and transferring knowledge from external partners to the team.GFT actively drove this transition, helping Deutsche Bank to recruit and train a new 60-strong development team in India, accelerating the development of its ambitious new platform.

Another key initiative was the move to ‘Feature teams’, in order to drive increased accountability and empowerment. In practice, this meant moving from three large teams working in silos on different product components to nine smaller groups. Each group was tasked with analysing their own performance and value stream, identifying inefficiencies, and making any changes they needed – whether recruiting new skills, or implementing new ways of working. Each team was given complete ownership of the end-to-end production process with all the necessary skills (e.g. developers / QA etc.), avoiding inefficient ‘handovers’. 

Collaboration and knowledge sharing          

With its new structure and Agile framework in place, the team increased communication, engagement, collaboration and knowledge-sharing to drive the project forward. This was achieved through a number of initiatives including monthly ‘engage’ sessions with the global team to discuss progress and performance updates, as well as a commitment to two to three visits to the ten locations worldwide by the leadership team.

A  DbPalace User Forum was created to update the wider business and the dbPalace team about project progress, while internal social media tool ‘MyDB’ provided a platform for sharing information and updates with the wider business.

Reaping the rewards

Harnessing new ways of working, the dbPalace team was able to accelerate development by over 80%, enabling it to decommission over 2,000 user applications, replacing them with a single standardised strategic platform that is able to perform 70% of all tasks for 1,100 users globally. The advanced platform gives managers a single view of performance across the business, and KPI or risk performance indicators can now be examined and compared across all locations.


Related Articles

Leave a Comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.