Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2008 Increases Efficiency at UBL


Established in 1959, UBL is one of the largest banks in Pakistan. With assets of more than Rs.550 billion, the institution provides coverage through its 1112 branches across the country as well as at several overseas locations.

Equally as impressive is the banking institution’s IT investment. In the past 5 years, the bank has invested close to [need figure] in the establishment of its IT infrastructure.

The IT – BRM Division has been developing, testing, supporting and maintaining software applications which are core to the Business Divisions. The team is responsible for developing new application initiatives, taking care of routine maintenance and upgrading of existing implementations for greater efficiency.

As the banking environment becomes more competitive, the needs of the bank too increase. The high availability of applications makes the job of the development team more complex. Analyzing requirements, producing functional documentation and system design, quality assurance, Scalability, Source and Configuration Management, Team communication and incorporating the same in the system can become a hectic job if not properly managed.

Project management, Software Development and Testing play the key role in software life cycle and they should have proper and approved processes for high quality, scalable and secure banking applications. UBL IT Division has strong software processes in placed but they previously executed and tracked manually so managing and tracking the current state of the project(s) required good amount of effort.
All these manual Processes, documentation, project planning, code writing, source and configuration management, quality assurance, audit & compliance, needs to be automated in Single and centralized tool so that properly configured applications with the correct versions of their dependencies could finally be deployed and managed in production. We have successfully mapped UBL IT manual processes into MS VSTS and now all things are automated.
Compared to other financial institutions in Pakistan, UBL realized very early on that if it wanted to stay ahead of the competition, it would need to roll out products on a very regular basis. In order to accurately package and track these products, the bank needed to be self-reliant as far as its IT support was concerned.

Today, with a team of close to 100 resources on the bank’s IT department, the organization is relatively independent in servicing both its internal and external customer base however the team was beginning to face another type of challenge. “When our development team, for example, would get a query to roll out a module or solution, we noticed a lot of duplication of work,” explains Mujeeb Mohammad Syed, [designation, UBL]. Duplication of effort meant the team was unable to efficiently plan, develop or deploy resources to accurately resolve the query, which also increased the chances of error.

What the department really needed was a collaboration tool to better plan the product or development lifecycle so it could be accurately deployed and subsequently tracked. And that’s why Visual Studio Team System 2008 made so much sense. “They had all the right components in place; the resources, the innovation and the demand to continuously deliver products based on specific and customized needs. What they didn’t have in place was a way to coordinate all the processes were working to achieve the same objective,” explains Naveed Bajwa, Developer and Platforms Group Manager, Microsoft Pakistan.

Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2008 has only been in the organization 10 months and UBL was one of the first organizations in Pakistan’s financial sector to adopt it. According to Mujeeb, deployment actually wasn’t the greatest challenge. “Ensuring that our objectives were aligned with what the solution was offering, was the challenge,” he says. Since UBL was the first adopter of VSTS in the country, Microsoft Pakistan offered the organization all the training and support it needed.

Microsoft Visual Studio Team System helps the organization to better manage its Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) model. The solution enables teams to better coordinate the design, development, and deployment of applications along with managing the connections between individuals, roles and teams. The tools help system analysts and project managers not only create better value but also deliver an optimally produced product that is more accurately aligned with the needs of the organization.

The most common reason for the failure of a product can be attributed to the fact that it didn’t satisfy the specs queried by a customer. While the human resource exists to develop and deploy solutions, one of the biggest flaws reside in the lack of process management. Managing complexity requires solutions that bridge the gap between that complexity and the need for coordination and task simplification. Organizations can accomplish this today with Visual Studio Team System 2008.

The infrastructure of the bank is customized to tailor the needs of the entire organization. Mujeeb explains that, “Ensuring that there is technical alignment between the existing infrastructure and a new solution is always a challenge. We needed to ensure that the technical requirements of VSTS fit in with the blueprint of our infrastructure, hence needed to customize the solution before it could be deployed.”

As with any implementation, user buy-in and ownership is critical to the success of the deployment. “It’s all about training and bringing a change in the mindset. It’s about instilling the realization into the team that after the initial teething problems, the solution will actually make the entire department more productive and optimal in its performance,” explains Mujeeb. Since VSTS offers a one-window access to all information flowing in and out of the department, it becomes easier to manage the development processes.
Increased Collaboration and Communication
Visual Studio Team System 2008 provides the team the ability to view information and progress, and communicate with colleagues and business stakeholders more effectively. Increased collaboration and communication simply means better tracking of progress and better compliance and compatibility between processes.

Ensuring Software Quality
Since every developer knows the stage of the product development lifecycle, it becomes easier to troubleshoot or debug glitches in the early stages. Ensure software quality using advanced quality tools at every step of the application life cycle helps to ensure more control in the creation of the final product.

Real Time Tracking
Visual Studio Team System 2008 enables developers and stakeholders to track real time progress and make informed decisions based on updated bits of data.

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