Although a new data processing platform streamlined operations at Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union, manual chores remained. "Converting to the Open Solutions, Inc. (OSI) platform in 2004 vastly improved our capabilities," recalls Bill Gunn, senior IT engineer for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based institution. "But the included job scheduler was insufficient. We wanted enterprise functionality to run 'lights out' during off-hours and eliminate the undesirable overnight shifts required for manually initiating sequence-dependent processes."
Early in 2005 Addison Avenue ($2 billion in total assets) tapped into the OSI (Glastonbury, Conn.) user community for process automation recommendations. "It was a short list -- just two," Gunn says of the recommendations, noting that "Several larger OSI clients were using UC4's Workload Automation Suite" to enable automated job scheduling. Based on the user recommendations, Addison Avenue quickly secured a license for Bellevue, Wash.-based UC4's solution and loaded it into a test environment in the credit union's all-HP (Palo Alto) IT shop.
At about that time, however, organizational priorities shifted and the project was back-burnered -- until the vendor made a progress inquiry. "After we related our resource hurdles, UC4 came to our rescue," says Gunn. "It sent representatives to conduct on-site training and had developers write some custom migration scripts."
With UC4's jump start the project was revived in early 2006. "We split the deployment into three phases: reporting, daily processing and account updating," Gunn notes. "We tackled reporting first because it was the easiest and provided us with a granular evaluation method that we could use during the implementation of the other phases."
Empowering Business Users
During the second phase, daily processing efficiencies were achieved by empowering business users, Gunn reports. "Before UC4, business users and IT each performed specific tasks in a specific order every day," he explains. "This required numerous phone calls to coordinate. By converting to UC4, we essentially pushed IT process initiation out to business users, eliminating us as the middle man and allowing them to complete daily processing tasks at their own pace."
In January 2007 the final phase of the rollout began. "Since it involved working with people's assets, we ran the test and production environments in parallel for about eight weeks," Gunn says. "Although I sweated bullets the night we cut over in March, it went very smoothly." For the next six months various miscellaneous processes were migrated to UC4, he recalls, and the conversion was completed in September 2007.
Today UC4 automates approximately 97 percent of Addison Avenue's core and daily processing chores, according to Gunn, allowing the credit union to operate its data center in a "lights out" mode during off-hours. As a result, Addison Avenue has eliminated overnight shifts and reduced IT head count by three.
In addition, Gunn notes, approximately 25 percent to 30 percent of the institution's second-tier engineering time has been reallocated to more-business-critical tasks. "Now there are usually less than two processing issues a month that require human involvement," he remarks.
But UC4 doesn't deserve all of the credit, notes Henry Parker, manager of the enterprise applications group for Addison Avenue. "The type of expertise we dedicated contributed to our level of success," he asserts. "Bill [Gunn] is an experienced database administrator, which means he not only understands the mechanics of OSI's Oracle (Redwood Shores, Calif.)-based environment but also has the SQL skills that enabled taking full advantage of UC4. For someone with less expertise, a comprehensive workflow automation project like ours could be a daunting task."
Regardless, UC4's sophistication has proven invaluable, according to Gunn. "UC4 has permitted us to automate many tasks that were impossible to streamline before," he says. "And we're still just scratching the surface."
For example, Gunn relates, Addison Avenue plans to utilize the technology enterprisewide to automate manual functions in other areas of the organization. In the meantime, he adds, the credit union is eager for a promised upgrade that will provide the flexibility to run applications in the foreground in addition to the default background operation.
Case Study SnapshotInstitution: Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union (Palo Alto, Calif.).
Assets: $2 billion.
Business Challenge: Enable "lights out" operation of data center, including automated job scheduling, during off hours.
Solution: UC4's (Bellevue, Wash.) Workload Automation Suite.
Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio