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Take a closer look: why trusted advice can be just as important as the technology

Things aren't always what they seem: when a professional services team delved deeper into this bank's set-up and requirements, it discovered a raft of opportunities to optimise the banks environment

With several million customers, this international bank is one of the UK's leading retail financial services companies. As you would expect, the business depends on effective IT and, with workloads and user demand increasing, the bank decided to upgrade its server. The original scope was based on achieving gains in three main areas: making the server more powerful as it was running very slowly; improving its abilities to schedule and manage loads; and enhancing how its users interacted with Microsoft Office tools while, at the same time, enabling easy access to far more powerful analytics.

With SAS® Office Analytics identified as the optimum solution and the Platform Suite for SAS® Enterprise job scheduler also chosen, the bank turned to SAS® Professional Services to enable rapid, professional and cost-effective implementation.

An enhanced package of services

"SAS Office Analytics was the ideal solution, enabling the bank to build on its earlier visual data discovery platform," says Ross Hammett, SAS Professional Services. "They also wanted access to PC file formats, a capability that's also included." He says the software enables organisations "to easily access and benefit from more powerful analytics while using their familiar Microsoft set-up – they don't have to settle for more simplistic approaches to data manipulation, analysis and reporting." Increasingly, organisations of a certain size are also choosing the SAS Office Analytics Quick Start service to implement quickly and effectively. Minimising the effort required in-house while ensuring the software is installed, tested and operational in the shortest time, deliverables are based on a single server implementation.

In this case, however – with deployment including PC file format access and Platform Suite software – the customer required enhanced services across consulting, requirements gathering, architecture planning and prerequisites, installation, configuration and testing. "The bank wanted to move fast and was very keen to secure dates – it wanted its users to be up and running very fast, but it also faced budgetary constraints," says Paul Evans, Customer Services Manager, SAS. "The Quick Start approach wasn't appropriate in this situation, as they clearly needed more. For example, to ensure we understood the environment accurately, we carried out a 'Phase Zero' two-day assessment for requirements gathering on-site. In a 'classic' Quick Start engagement, that can normally be done remotely."

This activity revealed a far broader range of needs and business requirements than originally anticipated, resulting in a new proposal document with various recommendations. These included the benefits to be gained by accessing additional expertise and services through a SAS® Premium Support contract, configuring an additional applications server, and covering security issues and knowledge transfer. "Another outcome, one the bank has since acted on, was a recommendation to move forward with a logical test environment," Evans adds. "That work was completed ahead of the main implementation."

More insight – more value

Largely due to the demanding timescales imposed by the customer, Evans says implementation challenges included the prerequisites "only being completed the week before the main installation and configuration work began, which did create some issues in ensuring all the key stakeholders were available for the architectural assessment to go ahead." He adds, "In fact, contracts for the services weren't signed and returned until two days before the project was scheduled to begin. But we were confident it would be fine; trust is another important element in this type of relationship."

"I think this project shows the importance of getting the initial assessment and requirements-gathering work done properly. In this situation, they needed more depth than a 'classic' Quick Start package might provide, and we could make that call. Putting as much effort into that early stage as you need really pays dividends down the line. You can not only work out the right way to do things, in terms of implementing a specific solution, but also identify a range of other areas and activities to optimise and improve the environment. Taking a closer look, asking the right questions and being able to provide the right answers really pays off."

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International bank

Business Issue:
Rapidly upgrade a server, deploy a new analytics solution and give end-users new capabilities in the shortest time frame
Integrated implementation services from SAS Professional Services and its delivery partner: consulting, assessment/requirements gathering, prerequisites, installation and configuration, and knowledge transfer – from SAS Professional Services and its delivery partner
Focused and highly cost-effective installation of a SAS Office Analytics solution for data access, analytics and reporting; additional data access and job scheduling capabilities; improved server speed and operations; plus a range of areas revealed for additional enhancement and improvement

"The bank wanted to move fast but also faced budgetary constraints. We could provide an enhanced implementation package across consulting, requirements gathering, architecture planning, and complete installation, configuration and testing."

Paul Evans

Customer Services Manager, SAS

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