||Visual Studio is best suited to our needs. On the one hand, it is a powerful and field-proven industrial platform. It is widely used, so there are a lot of highly skilled professional developers, and they have no difficulty recruiting
staff. On the other hand, the ’entry level‘ for this platform is rather low – basic tasks can be solved even by a placement student. This allows them to allocate appropriate resources and at the same time create our own highly skilled workforce.”
| Yuri Neschadimov,
Design and Development of Business Systems,
IT Department, Alfa-Bank
Alfa-Bank was founded in 1990. As of today, it is the largest private bank in Russia. Alfa-Bank serves approximately 60.5 thousand corporate customers and 7.8 million individuals. It offers a wide range of banking products, including services for corporate
and retail customers, investment banking, trade finance, and leasing. Alfa Bank is headquartered in Moscow, Russia. The branch network consists of 460 offices across Russia and abroad, including a subsidiary bank in the Netherlands and financial subsidiaries
in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Cyprus.
Description of Situation
In order to maintain its market leadership, Alfa-Bank has to use best-in-class technology. The Bank widely uses specialized tools to automate primary and secondary business processes. Most of the complex business applications were developed using Java. However,
they also need to develop another class of solutions that can solve local tasks related to improving employee performance. The solutions are rather simple, so the Java platform is superfluous, which makes the development too time-consuming and costly. For
historical reasons, such solutions were created using different systems (Delphi, Clipper, etc.), which are now obsolete. Those applications were too costly to maintain, and their development was virtually halted. Isolated tools such as macros in Excel were
used for automation, but they were difficult to maintain: there was no supporting documentation, and after a while almost no one understood their internal logic and interconnections. IT executives of the Bank had to choose a new development platform – an easy-to-use
and cost-effective solution; moreover, the platform also had to be powerful, stable, and reliable. In 2007, Microsoft Visual Studio became the new unified development platform.
The evaluation of the new platform began with the development of applications in Visual Studio using C#. In particular, they automated the inter-bank document flow for the processing of applications for credit; they also created a solution for tracking and
financial monitoring of loans to corporate clients. It took them less than a year to implement a module for processing non-standard loans and retail deposits. According to Alfa-Bank’s IT professionals, the implementation of the application using Visual Studio
(instead of reengineering the core banking information system) has ensured significant savings for the Bank. As of today, about 20 developers of Alfa-Bank use Visual Studio.
Later, in 2008, it was decided to automate the entire process of collaborative software development. For this purpose, the experts chose another solution from the Visual Studio family – Team Foundation Server (TFS). In the initial stage, the system was deployed
within a single department. Taking into account the results, it was decided to extend the deployment of TFS to the entire design and development directorate, while updating the platform to TFS 2010 (this version contains new test management tools).
Five IT Department employees attended courses in Microsoft products. The implementation of TFS was performed by IT professionals of the Bank itself, but some of the problems related to fine-tuning were resolved with the help of Microsoft experts under the Consulting
In addition, they use TFS to manage the entire document flow for software development. The system enables the original problem to be divided into several components, assign tasks to developers, and specify timelines for each stage and each task. All the necessary
information is exported to Microsoft Project for creating the work agenda and monitoring its implementation. The actual data from Project is sent back to TFS. Thus, TFS can generate detailed reports on the planned and actual performance of each project and
each type of work at any given time, as well as consolidated reporting for the entire pool of tasks. In addition, the system maintains a complete historical record of activities related to all projects, which can be analyzed in order to improve forecasting
Since January 1, 2012, virtually all management activities in the field of software development have been performed using Team Foundation Server.
"Alfa-Bank was one of the first banks in Russia to deploy TFS 2010. They cooperated closely with Microsoft to address the most complex issues, such as integration with other applications (particularly with HP
Quality Center and Microsoft Project). The Bank has established an infrastructure to manage software development based on TFS 2010. These transformations can be compared to the transition from single-piece to optimized assembly line production. This refers
to the cost and speed of production, as well as to the quality of products,”
commented Yuri Neschadimov.
Visual Studio is an optimal platform for the development of non-critical business applications that are necessary for the Bank, when it is impractical to embed them into basic information systems. The commissioned applications are widely used by more than two
thousand employees at the Bank. According to Alfa-Bank IT executives, Visual Studio in combination with Team Foundation Server has helped approximately to double the productivity of developing such applications in comparison to similar projects based on Java.
According to Alfa-Bank, Visual Studio has provided the following benefits:
"Alfa-Bank is currently implementing the Scrum methodology to ensure timely provision of relevant information to the project team, as well as dynamic updates of the lists of tasks and requirements. Until now,
all the necessary documentation was created in Excel. After the deployment of TFS, they began to use built-in templates to generate reports quickly; documentation for all the projects is maintained directly in the system. In addition, they have managed to
retain all the benefits of Scrum – due to the shortened product development cycle, they can meet customer requirements more quickly,"
added Yuri Neschadimov.
- Accelerated application development and satisfaction of business requirements
- Streamlined maintenance and improvement of developed solutions
- Simplified and transparent software development management
- The cost of licenses for Visual Studio is relatively low, ensuring relatively low application development costs as well
- Greater productivity and stricter discipline within the project team
- They have no problems finding and training developers
Currently, Alfa Bank experts are exploring Visual Studio Test Professional, a solution that will automate the test management processes and directly link them with software development. In the future, the single infrastructure will include a requirements management
tool, where all the units of the Bank that are involved in the development of business applications will be able to use a single technological scheme within a single environment.
- Microsoft Visual Studio
- Microsoft Visual Studio Team Foundation Server
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