With the new application, we brought the process of approving internal guidelines under control, making our work much more efficient. The time that we save can be invested in more important activities. The new portal allows us to manage our regulations base in a faster and better-arranged manner. We are now able to effectively manage the documents necessary for running the bank. We made navigation in internal guidelines easier for our employees and increased the speed of information search.
Igor Dobřický, Head of the IT Department, Sberbank CZ, a.s.
To find a solution for the easy administration of internal guidelines and reports.
The department in charge of keeping internal guideline records at VolksBank used an application created in the Microsoft Access environment. Approved documents were stored in a shared directory and published on the company’s intranet. The process of approving internal guidelines was managed manually; each version of a document was sent to approvers via e-mail. This was insufficient to satisfy the bank’s needs because the officers responsible for approving guidelines did not have any change management tools available and employees had problems finding necessary documents.
The bank encountered similar problems regarding its reports. There are many types of reports generated for different time periods, of different sizes and with various business complexity. Individual departments at Volksbank had not been applying unified procedures in creating reports. Documents had been filed depending on the needs and established practices of each department; the methods for assigning titles or attaching auxiliary data (metadata) that would facilitate the search for required reports were not consolidated. At the same time, there was no support for archiving outcomes from individual reports (an invariable time-based snapshot for a specific period of time).
When calling for bids to solve the problem, the bank therefore specified the following requirements:
- to set a single rule for approving guidelines
- to maintain a complete history of documents and the processes of their approval
- to categorize documents and their links to related decrees and laws, to enable sophisticated searches,
- to monitor approval procedures, to have the ability to track versions in progress, to check deadlines, etc.
- to improve the arrangement of the hierarchical structure and navigation of the portal
- to increase the efficiency of users working with a large number of various types of reports
- to improve report searches by content, time period, and location
- to make working with reports easier for users, for example by recognizing input parameters and interpreting generated data
- to make administration and support of the reporting system easier for its administrators, for example by maintaining descriptive information
- to ensure automatic generation of reports so that users would have data available immediately and would not have to wait until they are generated
- to generate reports outside the operating hours of the system to avoid unnecessary burdens on major systems
- to maintain descriptive information for each report
- to implement Czech and English versions of the portal
Volksbank decided to implement the Microsoft SharePoint portal solution in connection with the Microsoft SQL Server database system (or the Microsoft Reporting Services for reports) and at the end of its tender process selected Infinity to be its partner. As seen by Volksbank, this technology was the most suitable solution especially because of its perfect links to the systems that were already in operation on the Microsoft platform. The very simple operation of the portal, which is accessed via a web browser and has very intuitive navigation, also played an important role in the decision.
The SharePoint system provides functionality in document management, searching, process management in accordance with defined work flows, and definitions of access rights. Utilization of this functionality was a logical step to achieve the required objectives. Each version of a guideline has a workspace where all the information related to the guideline is stored, including the complete history of its changes. Guidelines are approved in compliance with a fixed procedure which is managed automatically by means of a workflow. Users are sent e-mails about changes in the approval process. The strength of the solution is in the search support; users can trace information in several ways. Individual guidelines are interconnected with links; users can see the relations between documents. The application automatically updates data when the database of employees or the company organizational structure change, ensuring it is up-to-date and available to all bank employees. The existing data was also completely migrated under the project, including documents, attachments, and numerical series of guidelines.
The portal was created on a multilevel logical hierarchical structure, where users access reports gradually from the general basic level to the required detail. For better orientation, the hierarchical structure is displayed in an interactive diagram. Users will have diagrams created according to their access rights.
Each report displayed in the portal is created on the basis of a definition that contains descriptive data; the mode of work is clearly defined and information about the time when it was created and the term of its validity is provided for every report. Based on this information, users can search the required reports or even utilize the full-text search function if necessary. History is automatically maintained for reports. Users can back trace and view time-based snapshots of historical data. The reporting portal supports document downloading from various data sources and can be further extended through an open application interface. The system is connected to the Active Directory from which required user access rights are automatically downloaded. The user interface has Czech and English versions.
The portal administrator can very effectively administer the whole system from a comfortable graphical interface. Defining report templates is very intuitive and is automatically connected to the Reporting Services system.
The key benefits that the new solution of the reporting portal and the new solution of the system for internal guidelines have for Volksbank are especially:
- increased efficiency of approving internal guidelines
- streamlined supervision of reports by Volksbank employees and more efficient working with them system administrators can now manage the generation and publication of reports for bank employees more easily and simply
- users have obtained a modern tool which is convenient and extensively integrated with Microsoft Office, making the new system much more user-friendly and easier to use than the previous system
- the bank has obtained a secure, stable and robust platform for effectively sharing information and reports that is ready for further development
The bank has obtained a secure, stable and robust platform for effectively sharing information and reports that is ready to be further extended.