SDC – a conversion project with a zero-tolerance for fallouts
The case in short
Loss of data and interruptions in traffic should NEVER occur in banks
Converting bank systems is not for the faint-hearted. There is a zero-tolerance for data loss, and furthermore bank operations must continue unimpeded during the conversion process. Facing these challenges, SDC of Denmark and consultancy company Xact decided to work closely together when the two Swedish banks Sparbanken Finn and Sparbanken Gripen wanted to convert their systems to SDC.
The Swedish banks wanted to phase out their own bank systems, which are combined in the Cerdo Bankpartner company, and purchase services from SDC in Denmark instead. In brief, all of the Swedish data had to ‘live on’ in SDC’s systems, which therefore had to be adapted to match Swedish conditions. All of this had to be accomplished without affecting daily operations.
SDC – Scandinavian Data Center A/S
SDC is an IT-centre providing an all-round service for small and medium-sized financial institutions in Scandinavia. Our clientele is made up of over 123 Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and Faroese financial institutions, which are also the owners of SDC. SDC is based on the philosophy of common solutions for common needs – and the cost saving benefits which go with it. SDC´s services are supplied at cost price to the owning institutions. SDC´s core business is the development, maintenance, operation and joint purchase of IT solutions for the financial sector. SDC´s services are provided by SDC itself or SDC’s partners in cooperation and sub-suppliers. In the outsourcing of its services SDC looks for sound, professional partners and cooperation based on long-term agreements.
Xact Consultings contribution
Hard to specify
Having participated in several similar projects for SDC, Xact was hired as conversion consultants and put in charge of the project management for the data conversion, which in these kinds of projects is extremely critical, as everything has to work flawlessly. SDC CEO Erik Jakobsen said: ‘Conversion projects of this magnitude are very individual, and it’s difficult to specify all of the requirements in detail in advance. Therefore, it is vital that you apply conversion tools that are flexible and can manage new conditions at short notice. It is also important that the people in charge of the project, both internal and external staff, can maintain their objectives and focus when things change and that the procedures for testing and verifying those changes are automated to the greatest possible extent’.
Everything was mapped
The first task of the project was to map all of the data, allowing the project team to visualise the data structure of the two Swedish banks. Next, the team defined how things should look henceforth, and then the conversion could begin. Naturally, all data concerning customers, accounts, transactions, loan types etc. were to remain intact, but at the same time the management of these items had to be adapted to SDC’s system.
Quality and flexibility
The project was supported by a decentralized conversion tool (XdataCon), developed for SDC by Xact. The tool was tailored specifically to fit SDC’s requirements and needs, thus enabling unfamiliar data to be ‘poured’ into one end and exit at the other end as SDC-adapted data. In the event of changed requirements from SDC (or other users), XdataCon can fairly easily be modified to other specifications. ‘This allowed us to perform conversions that used to take 3 to 4 days, in one long afternoon,’ says Erik Jakobsen. ‘And not only did we achieve a higher data quality than by manual conversion; we also managed to free up time to delve into details as well as to do additional and more extensive testing. It goes without saying that analyzing, testing and optimizing are more valuable to our business than just converting data.
‘The moment of truth’
No matter how thoroughly things have been mapped and how much technical support you’ve enjoyed during the project, the moment of truth arrives on the day the system is going to enter daily operations. Here’s how Erik Jakobsen recalls that day: ‘Even though we’d tested everything humanly possible, it’s always exciting to see the results of a year of extensive work for more than 200 people. At the moment we pushed the button, our hearts were pounding considerably faster than normal, and we were relieved when it became clear that operations reached full power without any problems.’
Succes all the way
For SDC, the project is a success because it has expanded its business to include another two financial companies. For Gripen and Finn, the project is a success as it has given them better service at lower costs, and Xact can record yet another heavyweight reference in the field of handling complex and critical IT projects. ‘Once again, Xact has proved to be a strong and valuable partner for our business,’ states Erik Jakobsen. ‘They work hard and dedicated at all levels, think independently and take action in time. This eases our minds and allows us to focus on our parts of the projects.’