"One team" approach, including SAS® Consulting, SAS® Education and SAS® Premium Support, helps this building society capitalise on its SAS® solution investments
Banks and building societies depend on IT to run their businesses, manage risk, fight fraud and reach new customers. So what happens when you choose a strategic enterprise platform yet lack in-house skills to ensure smooth deployment and ongoing development? This world-class lender turned to SAS® Professional Services.
This building society is a longstanding SAS® user. Between 2005 and 2010, it's estimated the organisation derived £170 million of value from using SAS in key areas including Finance, Retail Credit Risk, Marketing and Fraud. However, the in-house team has struggled to meet the demands placed on it, with the organisation lacking the knowledge and resource to provide the SAS know-how and services the business requires.
"Its relationship with SAS deepened when they moved from a departmental approach to a more aggregated server-based approach, including the latest version of SAS," says Steven Wallace, SAS Technical Account Manager. "This was a big step up in terms of capabilities and their ability to support a large user base. SAS went from being a localised tool to a strategic enterprise-wide platform." This, in turn, increased demands on SAS® Customer Support and SAS® Education. Wallace continues, "My role, which later became more formalised as part of SAS Premium Support, was about helping manage, maintain and develop their SAS investment in the best ways. As a Technical Account Manager, it's vital I have that deeper long-term understanding of the customer and their requirements, so I can provide informed advice and guidance so they can get the most from their solution."
SAS Consulting: expert implementation
When the society needed to create a new liquidity management system to meet Financial Services Authority (FSA) requirements, it decided to build the system in-house using SAS. With a team of analysts working on requirements for a number of months, SAS was asked to provide a project manager and two consultants to help with data mapping. "They were very impressed with our people – so much so that a few months later, they asked us to design and build the system on their behalf," says Mark Hughes, SAS Project Manager. "They didn't have the skills and wanted it built quickly. It was clear their team wouldn't be able to deliver within the ambitious time frame they'd committed to with the FSA."
He continues, "As far as I'm aware, this was their first major engagement with SAS Consulting, although they'd already been using SAS for training and Customer Support. We took the requirements into design and build, completed on time, and handed over to the testing team. We later went into parallel running to prove the system. We involved Customer Support, and Steven Wallace in particular, at every stage." Hughes describes the build as "extremely successful", with a number of agile techniques used to ensure rapid delivery. "The handover to the test team went smoothly too, because we'd done a lot of testing ourselves and were confident it would work." With a Learning Needs Assessment performed initially, he also put together a bespoke Training Plan with SAS Education that fitted the customer's precise needs, blending public scheduled courses with specific on-site training and some one-to-one mentoring. The system was implemented successfully, with the customer so pleased with SAS that, Hughes says, "Soon after, it invited our consultants to work on a liquidity reporting project."
SAS Premium support
Hughes adds, "During the latter stages, we agreed the transition from our Project team to SAS Customer Support, and discussed how they'd benefit from additional levels of support." Indeed, the customer recently moved into its third year of SAS® Premium Support. Additional benefits include an agreed number of days each year for technical account management, and on-site and critical period support, plus regular status reports, priority handling of escalations, and a dedicated Support Specialist as a single point of contact.
Steven Wallace says, "I advise on how they can make better use of SAS features and functionality." This has included packaging client software to enable distribution to a large user community, which involved working with a third party, implementing performance monitoring tools to help track and optimise the SAS environment, helping plan and co-ordinate a complex upgrade, and what Steven calls "tidying up their metadata" to enable delegated authority to user teams. "They don't have the skills to do this in-house. My remit covers strategic work along with the more prosaic but essential 'housekeeping' work, and reactive support to deal with issues as they emerge. I help them make their investment in SAS work even harder." He says engaging with SAS Premium Support enabled the society to create a far more robust, stable and manageable platform: "The services they provide to end users – performance, availability and security – have all improved. In terms of knowledge transfer, the in-house people supporting SAS have really benefited from the advice and guidance we've provided."
One team – a great outcome
For Mark Hughes, what stands out with this engagement is the "one team" approach that SAS has delivered: "We involved multiple areas of the business – pre-sales consultants, SAS Professional Services, Customer Support, Education, then Premium Support – and we all aligned on behalf of the customer and focused on delivering what they needed. This is all about delivering value and integrated services. It worked really well, and is continuing to work for this customer."
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Implement and optimise use of an upgraded SAS platform, with usage across multiple departments and in critical areas including credit risk, fraud and finance.
A wide-ranging SAS platform implemented in partnership with SAS Consulting and with SAS Education training services. On-going cover from SAS Premium Support.
Advice, support and knowledge transfer; higher levels of support including deep understanding of the customer set-up, easy access to SAS domain expertise and fast escalation with both proactive and reactive support
“"This is all about delivering value and integrated services. It worked really well, and is continuing to work for this customer"”
SAS Project Manager