SAS partnership enables UK banking group to develop SAS® Grid Analytics Centre of Excellence and provide a platform for the bank's analytics capability
A UK banking group worked in partnership with SAS® Premium Support to build a first-class support operation for its transition to a SAS® Enterprise Grid environment
A leading UK banking organisation offers personal banking, mortgages, insurance and a range of other consumer services to several million customers. The bank uses a range of SAS® products including: SAS® Banking Analytics Architecture comprising SAS® Data Integration Server and SAS® Enterprise Business Intelligence Server, with hundreds of SAS users spread across the Marketing, Finance, Fraud, Insurance and Operations departments.
The bank made a strategic decision to migrate to a SAS grid architecture using SAS® Grid Manager to enhance the performance, scalability and reliability of its analytics capability. Consequently, the decision was made to centralise the way the bank supports the use of SAS throughout the group by moving support responsibility from disparate departments, each with SAS users and expertise, to Group IT.
SAS® Premium Support was selected to assist the in-house team make the transition a success, due to its deep knowledge and understanding of not only the SAS products but also the practicalities involved in managing these solutions within large enterprise environments, with additional services provided by SAS® Education and SAS Consulting teams. The bank's team leader describes the impact of working with SAS® Professional Services: "Working with SAS Professional Services and using SAS Premium Support enabled us to move faster and more effectively to achieve the transition to our new environment than would have been possible using internal resource alone. It really gave us that 'capability advantage'."
Building, leading and training a centralised SAS support team
The in-house IT function needed to recruit and develop SAS administrators to work in the team, so one of the first tasks for the SAS Technical Account Manager was to work with the bank to identify the job functions needed, create job descriptions and to advise on the selection process for the new hires. The SAS Technical Account Manager worked in close partnership with the newly appointed in-house Analytics Centre of Excellence Manager to set and devise a support strategy and vision for the new SAS Enterprise platform.
As Chris Rigden, SAS Technical Account Manager, explains: "We worked hand in hand with the bank's IT team, from planning and strategy right through to recruiting and training a highly effective SAS support team, which now benefits from defined and embedded processes. Our consultants have been on the ground throughout the transition, offering practical help, guidance and support. When it was time to present our plans and progress back to the business, we were side by side with the bank."
The bank's team leader describes the impact of the deep SAS knowledge brought by the team: "I'm from an IT and service transition background, while our SAS Technical Account Manager brought knowledge of SAS and how it's best used. We worked as a partnership to deliver what was needed. SAS Professional Services brought a strong capability advantage that we wouldn't have possessed otherwise, with SAS Premium Support providing constant and consistent support that enabled us to build a strong capability internally. Without that, we would not have achieved our objectives in the same way."
Building high levels of SAS knowledge amongst the existing and newly recruited team was an essential requirement for delivering on the new enterprise grid architecture. For the bank's team leader, helping to develop skills within the team was a real 'value-add': "Working with Premium Support really helped us with recruitment. SAS provided a bespoke programme that was very specific to our environment and our platform, including on-site support, weekly seminars, workshops, shadowing and documentation, which meant we could hire more junior people who showed real aptitude, drive and enthusiasm – perhaps with more of a business background – and then train them in SAS, bringing them on within the team. That was a real 'value-add' and something SAS provided above and beyond the contractual arrangements. As a result, we're now self-sufficient."
Supporting implementation with consulting
There was a range of support functions which needed to be fulfilled both during and post-migration to the enterprise grid. SAS consultants worked extensively on the Business Intelligence migration to the grid by interviewing stakeholders and examining how reporting was executed in the legacy environment to ensure the new model would reflect the needs of BI consumers within the business itself.
The bank's team leader describes the dual challenge of implementing change whilst 'keeping the lights on': "SAS expertise was there for us all the time, which was so important as we were running a live production environment: we had to make sure it was up and available while implementing business processes as they were developed." He continued: "We could have attempted to do all this ourselves in-house, but we would have lacked the 'capability advantage' that SAS brought. It would have taken longer, been more difficult, and wouldn't have been as successful. SAS support, with its knowledge of systems and applications, was there throughout the year, meaning there was no need to keep going back and forth with questions or issues, which would normally be the case with a vendor. The constant and consistent support from SAS meant we could be more efficient and more streamlined."
The 12-month strategy of using SAS specialists to build the bank's self-sufficiency has come to fruition, with the support team now having high levels of SAS knowledge in place and a mature set of support processes. The relationship with SAS Premium Support has now moved from one of technical guidance to longer term strategic support.
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A leading UK banking organisation
Strategic partnership with SAS Premium Support to enable transition to a SAS Enterprise grid, and to construct a fully capable SAS Grid Centre of Excellence within the bank's IT department in order to provide a platform for business areas to add value to the organisation through the application of analytics.
SAS Premium Support, SAS Education, SAS Consulting services, SAS Banking and Analytics Architecture comprising SAS Data Integration Server, SAS Grid Manager and SAS Enterprise Business Intelligence Server
“"We could have attempted to do all this ourselves in-house, but we would have lacked the 'capability advantage' that SAS brought. It would have taken longer, been more difficult, and wouldn't have been as successful. SAS support, with its knowledge of systems and applications, was there throughout the year, meaning there was no need to keep going back and forth with questions or issues, which would normally be the case with a vendor."”