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How to ace DevOps in Jira: a case study from the finance industry

santander logo deviniti.png

A leader in the financial services sector, Santander Bank Polska S.A. (formerly Bank Zachodni WBK), is one of our oldest clients. We have been supporting the bank in projects focusing on custom software development and services related to the Atlassian suite of products since 2008. Back then, Deviniti was the only Atlassian partner in Poland who had a well-developed banking customer portfolio with clients such as ING or Credit Agricole, and the ability to map business requirements to the technical elements of implementation. We decided that it's high time we shared some highlights from our collaboration to show you how such a long-term partnership works in practice. In this article, we zoom in on two projects that brought tangible business value to Santander Bank Polska during our collaboration. 

Boosting problem and release management with Jira (2012-2013)

Our client was looking to replace a legacy project management tool with a new one that would be cost-effective, better adapted to the company's needs and processes, and included support from the manufacturer. Staying on the unsupported platform presented a risk because, in the event of a failure, the entire development and testing process could come to a halt. Besides, the old tools were not integrated with each other and didn’t match the increasing size of the error handling process.

The target tool would improve the management of software development processes and ongoing IT operations. In particular, Santander Bank Polska was looking to enhance its control over reported errors, increase the visibility of changes implemented in a given environment, and boost the transparency of relationships between business projects and their impact on the bank's IT systems.

Here’s a summary of the complexity of their IT systems and deployments at the moment when we started the project:

problem-delivery-management.png

Why did the customer choose to implement Jira Software?

  • Other teams at Santander Bank Polska have already been using Jira successfully for a while,
  • Jira was technologically more advanced than the tool used previously - it is a web app that worked far more efficiently than an application on an email engine,
  • Jira can be integrated with virtually any other tool and easily customized with apps or custom plugins,
  • Providers of many out-of-the-box systems usually offer plugins for integration with Jira,
  • Jira streamlines the communication between business and technical divisions,
  • The tool offers accessible reporting features such as filters or gadgets.

The Case

Managing software change orders and errors (and the relationships between them) impacts the productivity of the entire software development process. Dealing with this was the first milestone in the implementation of DevOps for the customer. Effective management of IT operations leads to increased throughput of new versions and propagation to systems. 

Santander Bank Polska aimed to replace its error handling system in the legacy system’s database with a modern platform, Atlassian Jira. We implemented the new solution to improve the process of handling errors found during software testing with the following features:

  • Speeding up the registration of issues (denoting changes or errors),
  • Integration with software change orders,
  • Integration with an internal application for downloading information about approved project initiatives, including information on the components modified in the banking environment,
  • Integration with the CMDB database - obtaining information about the details of systems and their components attached/developed in the banking environment,
  • Improving the preparation of the component matrix for the installation of subsequent software versions,
  • Enabling on-line reporting at all levels of management,
  • Implementation of audit recommendations to achieve compliance.

By migrating to the new tool, the bank would get a modern browser-based service used by thousands of organizations around the world.

The Solution

We aimed to provide Santander Bank Polska with a functional and easy-to-use system for error tracking and software installation orders. We implemented two key projects in Jira: TEET for error management and IVEC for release management.

The data model looked like this:

santander-jira-implementation-data-model.png

Here's what our team did to support the bank on its quest to process optimization:

  • Configuration of the workflow and authorization rules - we ensured that the process of reporting/removing errors and managing installation orders was efficient. Our team also defined the next steps in the defect life cycle and their processing.
  • Defining permissions for individual roles - for example, identifying users who have the right to report a new error, can change its status to Repaired or have the right to register a software installation order. This is also where we set the conditions under which a given error can be closed and identified who can change the order status.
  • Logging all of the events - the tool offers a complete history of every case, recording the course of events in both the error processing cycle and software installation order.
  • Availability of error statistics - this helps teams to examine the application and determine the number of its errors along with other related information, such as their status, significance, priority, and processing time.
  • Web-based access to data on errors and installation orders - this brings significant communication improvements within the organization as teams can easily check the current status of the application.
  • Access to historical data from the level of Jira - the bank decided to maintain the old functionality for a period of 2 to 3 months from implementing the new tool. We ensured that historical data is imported into Jira and available in read-only mode, with databases kept in the legacy tool that can be easily accessed through sending a request.

Project execution

Since 90% of the processes were ready on the client side, our main task was to model these processes on the Atlassian platform and implement the right tools. However, we still assisted the bank in analyzing business requirements and mapping them to technical elements - it was an important and long-lasting part of the process. We proposed a solution that can be applied in various processes, workflows, and projects. Jira gave our client more freedom since we used building blocks instead of creating a solution from scratch.

After the analysis was completed, we divided the work into two segments:

  1. Configuration of Jira performed by the bank's employees.
  2. Customization of the tool carried out by us with the help of plugins.

What did Deviniti do?

Our team delivered about 20 components and a tool that expanded the reporting capabilities in Jira. For example:

  • Relational and reference custom fields showing relationships between the objects in various projects and displaying information from other issues in real-time.
  • Custom reports - for instance, a dashboard for release managers with cross-sections of packages going to environments and systems affected by these changes.
  • We also provided the customer with configuration instructions, including examples embedded in the context of the company processes. 
  • The client received the source code, several SQL scripts to assist in database reporting, and groovy scripts running directly in Jira to perform custom group operations on issues. 
  • In addition, we built components for importing data from CMDB and the business project database to supply Jira with the data required to describe errors, changes, and packages uploaded to the environment.

The Challenge

The main challenge in this project was maintaining the high performance of the application at scale. It involved the processing of production errors for 300 systems and 100 active projects that engaged 800 users spread across 200 teams. Further on, it would serve 1500 users, and ultimately 2000 users. 

A large number of custom fields, users, projects, and issues had a strong impact on Jira's performance, and back then, Jira Data Center was not available yet to address this problem. Our team carried out performance tests prior to the implementation that indicated such problems, so optimizing some parts of the solution was necessary. For example, in a multilevel structure of dependencies, changing an entity located on top of the tree (on which subordinates depend) generated a large number of operations in the background of the application. We optimized this process to count only the entities that the change actually affected. What's more, we eliminated double conversions for parallel actions completed by multiple users at the same time.

The potential slow adoption of the new tool presented a risk as well. To mitigate it, we delivered training 2 months before the implementation. We also carried out corridor tests by letting users into test instances easily. The reception was positive and the usage of the tool turned out to be intuitive, so this risk actually didn’t arise at all.

Results

By implementing Jira as the key problem and release management tool, Santander Bank Polska took an important step in its digital transformation by transitioning to a web-based application. Thanks to this decision, the end-users can enjoy easier access to the tool from any location. In terms of processes, the implementation helped optimize release management, change management, and introduced the basics of continuous deployment to the IT organization.

santander-quote-piotr-kwiatkowski.png

Our long-term collaboration with Santander Bank Polska shows that it’s possible to develop a truly strategic technology partnership with an external provider who has the right expertise and approach.

To learn about the next step of this project, which was introducing test and release automation, read the full article on the Deviniti blog.

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