"An individual solution was more cost-effective"
Some 2,300 events per year worldwide – in order to manage these events, Credit Suisse (CS) relies on a modern software solution developed exclusively for them by ELCA. Why did the high-street bank opt for individual software development instead of standard software? What sort of influence does the tightly regulated banking sector have on event management? And how was the global roll-out carried out? In this interview, Stefan Kunze, IT project manager at CS, answers these questions.
IT Project Manager at Crédit Suisse
ELCA has developed a global event-management software for CS. Why did CS choose an individual development?
CS has a range of functionality and technology requirements that are derived, among other things, from organizational and regulatory frameworks. For us, it was important that these requirements could be met, and as cost-effectively as possible. So we looked at the question "Individual development or standard product?" from this point of view. It became clear that, to meet the requirements, any standard product would have to be altered and customized to such a great extent that, ultimately, it was more cost-effective to develop an individual solution.
When it comes to global applications cross-border issues frequently play an important role. How does the event-management solution support these processes?
Legislation in the various countries presents challenges for a global IT software solution in terms of data exchange and client-related data storage. For example, certain types of client and attendee data may only be stored centrally and in anonymized form during the invitation workflow, while, on the other hand, personally identifiable information has to be stored locally. ELCA’s solution addresses these demands in two ways. Firstly, the software "knows" the applicable laws and regulations and assists our staff with appropriate tips and warnings. Secondly, there are special functionalities that use standard office software to link locally and centrally stored data. They do this by performing a subsequent automatic integration of the central data.
"The software allows you to depict the most diverse of events, and to reflect organizational changes within CS and special local characteristics. At the same time, the software is easy and intuitive to use."
During the software development process, what were the important factors for you on the IT side in meeting the specialist department’s requirements?
The project’s critical success factor was the close and trust-based cooperation between CS IT, the CS specialist department and the supplier ELCA. Assistance was particularly necessary from the CS specialist departments when it came to defining the software’s specifications and testing it. We thought it was very important to involve a range of people who would be using the application themselves in future, and we included their feedback in the development process. That way we could guarantee the software solution’s functionality and ease of use.
What do you and the CS Event Marketing team see as the software’s outstanding features?
From a functional perspective, it is definitely the high degree of flexibility in the workflows and in setting up event structures. For example, the software allows you to depict the most diverse of events, and to reflect organizational changes within CS and special local characteristics. At the same time, the software is easy and intuitive to use, hiding its structural complexity from the user when it is not required.
From a technical perspective, the key feature is clearly the extremely close integration into the CS IT landscape. This allows us to meet all the security requirements and to operate the system cost-effectively on our standardized infrastructure.
What added value does ELCA’s event-management solution generate for CS? Can you quantify it?
Regulatory reasons were the main drivers for introducing the system. By definition, it is difficult to quantify those. Using the application will also give us clear gains in efficiency, freeing up employee time and generating extra capacity.
The project lasted around one and a half years. For the programming, ELCA also drew on its own offshore development centre in Vietnam. Can you describe your experience of the offshore scenario?
This scenario was made fully transparent to us as the client. We deliberately offered the project as a work contract so that ELCA had the freedom to make its own decisions on the best and most cost-effective ways to carry out the work.
Our ELCA contact was the project manager, who was available on-site in Zurich. That guaranteed short distances and personal contact.
In terms of technology and functionality, the solution that was delivered to us has been thoroughly convincing. We ran into none of the typical problems that can crop up in outsourcing, particularly those relating to inconsistent or incomplete specifications.