IT often underpins any business drive to improve efficiency, and the Nottingham Building Society has found that simplifying IT makes a big difference.
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With more than 30 branches and 500 employees, the Nottingham faced the challenge of aligning its core IT systems and infrastructure to its business objectives and reviewing each of its processes.
Working with systems integrator Esteem, the society has re-engineered its entire IT estate to reduce its service overhead and enable its IT team to work more strategically towards longer-term goals, employing virtualisation and remote management technology. The result is improved customer service, branch communication, business continuity, competitive advantage and business agility, says the Nottingham.
"Customers are individuals and may find the branch experience and dealing with a person preferable to interacting online," says Jack Cutts, head of IT at the Nottingham. "We understand this. That's why we have made our IT systems capable of offering customers total flexibility in how they conduct business with us."
The Nottingham's IT infrastructure needed updating to help it move from a product-centric to a customer-focused organisation, says Cutts. It also had to meet auditing requirements and ensure the secure management of personal information, as regulated by the FSA.
Removing the fire-fighting approach to system management meant a considerable change for the whole company, including the IT department. The IT team needed to move away from the mundane, day-to-day tasks needed to keep systems running, such as unblocking emails and resetting passwords, and focus instead on implementing new systems to drive the business forward.
The building society worked with systems integrator Esteem to review its existing systems and design and implement a new IT infrastructure that would transform all its business processes.
Infrastructure improvements included a new network, a storage area network (SAN) and a disaster recovery centre with a NetApp virtual tape library (VTL) and VMware. As well as replacing its core savings and mortgage system with a Summit system, the Nottingham implemented a new version of Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft Active Directory and Microsoft Exchange Server, as well as Citrix Presentation Server for improved branch access.
"We have replaced every server and PC in the business," says Cutts. "We have also trained every member of staff. This is no mean feat, as almost every process in the business has changed."
The overhaul was completed in March this year, and the Nottingham's IT management is now simplified and improved, with centralised systems and automated management processes. "We have completely automated email management and introduced secure single sign-on for all users, freeing up the IT team to concentrate on strategic business objectives," says Cutts.
The company has also invested in Summit specialist mortgage application software from TietoEnator. The new system enables the Nottingham to offer online products and instant quotes, and makes it easier to add and change products within stringent FSA guidelines. Cutts says it also helps the society launch new products to the market more quickly and cheaply.
The Nottingham's IT investment
Hardware: 14 Sun servers , 2 Sun SANs with Cisco switches, 2 Sun tape libraries, NetApp virtual tape library, 33 IBM branch servers, 53 IBM Blade servers.
Software: Citrix Presentation Server, Citrix Access Gateway, Citrix Password Manager, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Active Directory, Microsoft Windows Server, SQL, Office, Visio Pro, VMware Virtual Infrastructure, Symantec Netbackup, IBM Websphere, Santricity (Sun Replication software).