Building an application at an organisation like ABN AMRO is no simple task. In addition to the client’s requirements and wishes for the application’s functionality, countless national and international regulations and laws must also be satisfied. The bank itself also has agreements to ensure that the application ties in with the chosen architecture. All of this means that software developers receive requirements from a multitude of departments within the bank, in different formats and using their own terminology. This can result in a confusion of ideas, causing longer development processes and errors in the software. This is why Devoteam was asked to contribute ideas for the structure and implementation of a solution. The solution was supposed to help business analysts at the bank set down and submit requirements. Ronald Koster, architect at the bank’s Center of Expertise Tooling, talks about the solution.
“It is all about the client and added value,” Ronald begins. “How can we do things even better? Internally as well. For instance, how can we have our people cooperate better in the development of applications? How can we prevent misunderstandings? We are a large, knowledge-intensive organisation, so requirements for applications are submitted by different people, each with their own background. The collective input forms the basis for creating applications. In addition to the functional aspects, you also have to deal with laws and regulations, processes, agreements with other banks, the technology, quality standards and internal guidelines. The software developer has to take all of this into account. A challenge in and of itself, but especially if this information is supplied in different formats. This is the problem we tackled with Devoteam.
No major investment
The bank made a conscious decision to first look at the work itself and only after that look at a tool. Ronald: “In anticipation of the tool selection, we started by educating and training our business analysts. We wanted to synchronise clocks and make sure everyone was speaking the same language so that we could together come up with a complete and consistent description. The clearer it became, the more a different question started to emerge: what could we use to support this work? We were certain about one thing: we did not want to make any major investments right away, instead we wanted to first investigate what the right approach would be. A small-scale and manageable process with a party that could provide us with advice for tackling the problem. That proved to be the right approach.
DOORS Next Generation
“We opted for DOORS Next Generation from IBM. IBM tipped us off about Devoteam, and suggested we talk to them about a solution. I was already familiar with Devoteam as the bank’s IT partner. They had worked with us before on training for business analysts, they conduct business analysis processes themselves and I knew that they had knowledge and skills in this area in house. Looking for a solution is easier if you understand the field yourself. A pleasant added benefit was that Devoteam itself also works with DOORS Next Generation. After some exploratory talks about their approach, the choice was quickly made and I was confident we would have a good working relationship.”
“Within a month, they had delivered a prototype that works well, which is now being tested by a team of business analysts. In this phase we opted for an isolated SaaS solution. We often do this if we want to test out new tools. This lets you get to know the product and spread out the investment you have to make. If a positive decision is made, then a tool is really brought in house and implemented within the bank’s own network. We will evaluate the solution towards the end of this year. Then we will answer the question of whether we actually want to upscale and purchase more licenses. In the meantime, Devoteam will provide the configured solution so as to further improve the working method started at ABN AMRO.”
Ronald says he is happy with Devoteam. “What I appreciate in addition to their expertise, is their commitment. We could not give any certainty about this process in advance because it was really a quest. And because there was still so much uncertainty did not immediately want to start a negotiation process with contracts. We wanted to first look and see whether it was something for us and whether we could manage it together. Devoteam handles this kind of uncertainty very well. They have an open and flexible attitude and give us their trust in return. They put a great deal of energy into the work, share information and do not make a fuss if things are not always clear. This basis of trust provides precisely the latitude that you need to take up a quest like this one. That is what I needed. If they had demanded 100% certainty from us in the beginning, it would not have succeeded. It is still too early to conclude whether this solution will make the difference in our working method. There is one conclusion that I can draw, however: Devoteam is an excellent partner in these kinds of processes!”