Delta Lloyd is a Netherlands based company which provides services in insurance, pensions, investment and banking. It have four brands, namely Delta Lloyd, ABN AMRO Insurance, Be Frank and OHRA which cater to the needs of retail as well as commercial clients. Thus, it has an enormous customer base of more than 4 million customers. Obviously, to cater to such a large customer base, Delta Lloyd needed to employ IT based services. These services include websites, mobile apps and e-mailing services to smooth the process for clients and optimize the company’s operation as well. For example, these services would be used for reminding the clients for payments, ensuring the payment process is hassle-free and keeping a track of all transactions. Providing such a multitude of services to such a large client base would itself be a major responsibility. Any inefficiency or glitch in the process would reflect negatively on the overall performance of the company. Below is given an account of how Delta Lloyd identified the need to reduce inefficiency within their IT management system, and structured their way forward using the new age technology of IT4IT reference architecture.
Delta Lloyd like most companies in finance sector recognized the need and potential of IT Service Management (ITSM) well within time. The ITSM employed by Delta Lloyd was similar to the ITSM employed in most financial companies. The IT services at Delta Lloyd functioned in the classical way, where the entire IT department is comprised of an interconnected web of individual modules comprised of multiple units. Each unit has its own specialized function such as Problem Management, Knowledge management, service-end management etc. A portion of these services could also be bought from external sources via SAAS and PAAS platforms. However, there are several problems associated with such operation. These problems arise from manual tasks involving deployment, code management, packaging and configuration management. IT4IT reference architecture was hence proposed as a solution to these problems. IT4IT reference framework would ensure there is a single architecture framework throughout the chain of value. Implementing such a reference architecture would ensure that the business management at Delta Lloyd will have full control over all the ITSM tools, functions and operations. IT4IT reference architecture would also ensure that different units within ITSM, which operated as separate modules previously, will now be working in a greater harmony. Boundaries between various departments of IT management would diffuse at an enterprise level. The effect of IT4IT at employee level would be such that no employee will have to remain dedicated to one single aspect of IT services. Rather, each employee would be juggling between multiple divisions from time to time. Overall, the implementation of IT4IT reference architecture would reduce inefficiency within the IT services of Delta Lloyd. In long term this may reflect in company’s revenues as well as its tendency to survive adverse periods in market.
Adoption road map: Overview of the IT4IT™ adoption /implementation process:
This section of the report intends to chalk out the road map that IT4IT™ adopts to integrate and develop the IT infrastructure of the company in question – Delta Lloyds.
· Since the company deals with portfolios that are varied in number and nature ranging from Banking and Insurance to Investment and retail clients, the very first step that IT4IT™ adopts, is to create a service blueprint based on concepts, so to speak, regarding the vision that needs to be set and followed for the strategic management of the IT processes that are already implemented in the company. This blueprint can act as the connecting tool between the business portfolio and IT infrastructure of the company as it would then be providing the context for business and its growth aided by advanced multifarious architectural features of the IT4IT™ Reference architecture.
· The next step would be the effective and efficient management of the IT Service Management Platform and also of the integrated Service Portfolio. Now this section of the reference architecture might strike as repetitive to many as Delta Llyods already had a fairly efficient ITSM service going on with its service catalogues and request management systems that catered to both external as well as internal customers of the company. But Execution of this step is also just as necessary to facilitate the next few steps of end-to-end value streams making the architecture useful in an optimum manner.
· The first end-to-end value stream is the R2F or Request to fulfill. It is a framework that makes sure that the consumers of the company can easily and methodically get hold of the services that they require which will in turn boost productivity and inculcate innovation. It primarily attempts to eliminate the complexity that consumers face every now and then due to the multitude of IT request applications and Service Catalogues that the IT infrastructure of the company offers. R2F consolidates these fragments into one single consumption incident. This process is realized by proper packaging of the goods and products being offered and that means, cataloguing the services in a manner that is easily understandable by the clients and this of course calls for going beyond the traditional IT experiences.
· The second value stream comprising of the IT Value chain is the D2C or Detect to Correct. This framework basically provides an overview of all the services provided by IT Operations and these include Service Level Functions, Service Monitoring, Change Management etc. It gives us a comprehensive idea about the inter-connection between several domains and also the response time to the service requests and necessities. This proves useful for providing solutions to issues related to operations and also improve the effectiveness of the IT infrastructure of the company to address business objectives through agility, augmented uptime and lesser service-per-cost.
· The next value stream is called R2D or Requirement to Deploy. Several researches have proved that some of the primary issues that organizations are facing today are regarding planning, product sourcing, management, development and delivering of goods and services – factors that are of undeniable importance for the growth of a company. R2D addresses this very issue by making service delivery efficient and manageable even when teams and suppliers are geographically interspersed and the methodologies are comparatively difficult to execute. The R2D framework provides all kinds of services including SAAS (Software as a Service), lightweight applications like mobile applications using agile techniques as well as comparatively traditional methodologies that cater to more project-driven services.
· The last but of course not the least is the S2P or the Strategy to Portfolio framework that allows proper and efficient alignment of IT and business portfolios for a wholesome and effective growth of both. It is almost synonymous to Integrity and Optimization and often uses data integration to supply a holistic approach towards IT portfolio functions. It also contributes towards helping the organization to optimize its services by bringing together various multifunctional domains together in a single platform. It also brings to the surface those key data objects which are often overlooked by the traditional IT portfolio and planning programmes, thus closing the loopholes and augmenting efficiency.
Challenges Delta Lloyd encountered during the adoption process
All good things come with a price and so does IT4IT, especially when an organization tries to adopt it for the first time, replacing or modifying its pre-existent IT models and infrastructure. The primary among these problems are of course company culture, application complexity, difficulty in coping with multiple environs as well as executive buy-ins.
Delta Lloyds, in spite of being among the top financial companies was no exception. But in this case, the issues were primarily technical. For complex integration environs and sophisticated areas of application, setting up a new environment and running it is of course error prone. Also, the process of supervising the consistency of the new setup adds to the complexity, and the constant chances of failed trials cause a decline in the quality of deliverables. This happened with Delta Lloyd too making the implementation of the infrastructure more time consuming than expected. Also for the sake of cost considerations, key functional operatives like security and conformity were kept out of the initial processes as a result of which the live deployment of the processes was impacted.
Along with automations, manual intervention could not be completely done barring manual interventions. This obviously increased errors and outages. But these errors could not be determined in time and only appeared while testing and implementation. In some places this needed the work to be done all over again consuming valuable man-hour. Again the fix, probably devised in an improved environment where the developer works, sometimes failed to create any positive effect in the main course of the system and root cause analysis took even more time for implementation.
The final challenge was bringing about stability. Different applications showed different rates and patterns of stability with respect to the changes that came about. So it was almost impossible to determine how long the process was going to take, including initiation, error-correction and implementation.
These problems were bound to appear, given the fact that Delta Lloyds was a company already armed with good IT infrastructure and moderately efficient IT environment. So it was only natural that adopting a reference architecture as complex as IT4IT promises, was not cake-walk.
Outcomes of using IT4IT
Delta Lloyd has taken a specific approach which is useful for building its current management platforms. Like most of the companies it would like to use a single solution but since the market does not offer any all-encompassing solution today, they are following a solution which is more “community” in nature. They use more than one solution to manage their multiple Information Technology assets which is provided by different vendors.
The company has started its road-map in which the first step was to automate its entire tasks and service delivery using Windows and Linux servers. Currently they are on their way to automate their deployment capabilities which would help in their development.
Although this is an ongoing process, nevertheless the company has already noticed significant results. The greatest advantage of this automation is reduction in time-frames for performing their job.
In addition to these the company also implemented Lean and Agile processes in order to maintain the quality of their services and also to manage things.
All the employees of Delta Lloyd are now more active and have a greater understanding of the IT systems Architecture that the company follows and also its working. All the applaud goes to the implementation of the IT4IT framework within the company. Also this framework has helped the employees to get a better understanding of duplication in IT and also the tools or softwares that they require to solve the problem.
Ultimately the main advantages of implementation of IT4IT has been more faster and efficient processes in the company’s business.
As a result of this, there is no time lapse observed between different projects and the company is able to deliver its services on time satisfying their customers. IT is no more a hurdle for achieving their targets.
While implementing IT4IT, it is recommended if Delta Lloyd take care of a few other aspects of IT for an overall growth. Firstly, Delta Lloyd will need to integrate its processes in cloud, which will ultimately lead to smoothing of processes and overcome location constraints. Delta Lloyd must not stop focusing on Agile, as it would them in keeping a track of processes largely. Delta Lloyd also needs to find an integrated solution, instead of an open source standard such as IT4IT. This will require a tiring process of standardization. Finally, all the processes done by Delta Lloyd will need to be integrated within IT community. This will help a long term and sustainable growth of the company as well as the IT industry.