AppOps: A Case Study into Improved Service Quality and User Experience

Application operations improvements have boosted a financial services company’s digital services.

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CUNA Mutual Group was established over eight decades ago with the vision of making brighter financial futures accessible to all by providing access to quality financial services and helping more people make financial decisions that work for them and their situation. As a customer-centric organization, it believes in the principle of people helping people to build a responsible and equitable culture of stakeholdership. For generations, credit unions, enterprises and individuals across America have trusted CUNA Mutual Group to achieve financial security and self-reliance. 

To manage customer commitments, help prevent service outages and unplanned downtimes, Director Barb Brickl and her IT Business Operations team partnered with Atos, making a story of unmatched professionalism, teamwork and converged digital excellence.

Ushering a dynamic culture of change

Three years ago, CUNA Mutual Group took on the challenge to transform and unify its business application ecosystem. At the time, teams within the infrastructure and operations verticals were siloed and lacked end-to-end support for enterprise solutions. It led to multiple handoffs across the environment, as the practice was not agile enough to rapidly upskill individuals and automate processes for meeting the surging demands.

Customer satisfaction is critically important to Brickl, who has built a career spanning over 30 years at the company. So, her priority was clear: Drive acceleration.

"Starting in September 2018, we spent the entire last quarter understanding the root cause of fragmentation and areas where we wanted to improve the experience, how they crept into the landscape, and ways to resolve them, allowing teams to be self-sufficient," she says.

AppOps: Addressing mission-critical issues

In January 2019, IT leaders were sorting out the intricacies on the infrastructure operations side and were ready to roll out the changes on an MVF1 basis, but there were opportunities on the application operations side. It was much more complex but vital from the customer's standpoint.

"Missed SLAs and remediations were taking way beyond customer expectations and impacting our ability to meet the needs of our partners downstream," Brickl explains.         

She and her team realized that to keep the business applications environments live and accessible, as well as ensure that the operations team was empowered to meet customer SLAs, they needed a digital partner.

Working with Atos, the insurer implemented a proven application operations (AppOps) framework that intuitively tracks incidents and red flags across environments.

"Now we can foresee both predicted and unpredicted demand volumes,” Brickl says, “identify areas that are consuming too much manual bandwidth, correlate incident trends and address them through intelligent automation or self-service."

Also, for a financial services company with deep integration of systems to sell and service its insurance products, the framework maintains cohesion and ensures that the production environment is healthy, stable and secure.

Brickl believes that the AppOps framework allows governance responses that match the speed of business. She explains: "Proactive monitoring will notify us that memory in one of our business application servers is engaged up to 90%, prompting the team to add more disk capacity to prevent any service outages for our customers."

A digital partnership to do business better

For Brickl and her IT business operations team, the experience with Atos is a world apart from an earlier engagement that was compartmentalized, confusing and hard to navigate. The digital innovator brought an unprecedented synergy into the mix. With partners to balance the workloads, it was easy for the company to demonstrate tangible improvements by June 2019.

"While reliable digital expertise and skill sets have allowed our employees to delegate and attain a better work-life balance, our customers are delighted by an improvement in meeting SLAs and high service availability,” Brickl says. “Now they know that there is someone on the other end of the phone, 24x7, and are confident to have optimum support, which was not guaranteed before."

However, as the boundaries between the operations, business and product teams become smaller, Brickl thinks her company’s relationship with Atos will enhance in the future.

"It's a continuous process, and our teams will continue to work with Atos experts in detecting improvement opportunities, an approach that has hugely amplified the relationship between our digital and business verticals in the last couple of years," she says.

Also, Atos's contribution will be pivotal in identifying toil in business application environments and converging segregated product and operations verticals. This will move CUNA Mutual Group closer to the DevOps model, reducing demand, and optimizing resources.

Elevated performance

CUNA Mutual Group’s objective is to reach an elevated state of business application performance. The successful navigation of pandemic-induced disruption has convinced Brickl of Atos's ability to sustain the momentum of favorable shifts.

"We are so fortunate that we went through this transformation before our workforce went remote," she says, adding that in the complex digital landscape of financial services, change is the only constant.

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