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Co-evolving in the cloud

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In 2015, Schuberg Philis replaced their mid-office platform with a new core application: Matrix, made by Five Degrees. Now the frontoffice communicates much faster and more reliably with the familiar backoffice, and new applications can be added and modified more easily.

MATRIX

In 2015, Schuberg Philis replaced their mid-office platform with a new core application: Matrix, made by Five Degrees. Now the frontoffice communicates much faster and more reliably with the familiar backoffice, and new applications can be added and modified more easily. This is one of the highlights in an exceptional partnership that has lasted many years, beginning with a vehicle lease company that became a bank and a banker that became a software supplier. Schuberg Philis supplied the Cloud, implemented the software and gradually moved into the role of conductor for this developing symphony.

LeasePlan, an international company based in the Netherlands, established the LeasePlan Bank in 2010 to supply LeasePlan with finance for its fleet of 1.5 million vehicles. Rob Keulemans and Henk Jan Flierman had worked at LeasePlan since the early 1990s. Keulemans became Director of the new bank and Flierman was the Director Operations & ICT. They had little experience in banking, but knew all about outsourcing. Reliability is the key issue, so they chose an application that most banks used: Oracle’s Flexcube Direct Banking as the core application and Sitecore as the CMS for the website. Schuberg Philis was chosen for the managed hosting.

VIRTUAL SERVERS

Customer numbers increased, mainly because of the high interest rates, a distinctive savings product, and the ease of switching online to LeasePlan Bank. Soon the bank was confronted with limitations in their server capacity. To get more flexibility, in 2013 the servers became virtual servers in the Schuberg Philis Mission Critical Cloud.

Another bottleneck was the communication between the core application and the CMS, to which new functionalities were continuously being added. Modifications took a long time and communications with a big software supplier were difficult. Martijn Hohmann, CEO of Five Degrees, had an alternative: Matrix. By using this modern program, LeasePlan Bank could both retain the original Oracle customer database and easily add new applications. The Matrix software had already proven itself, including in one bank in another country, but it was still relatively new to the Dutch market. Schuberg Philis was therefore asked to test the software and went to Iceland to conduct a full code review.

For Björn Holmthorsson, CTO of Five Degrees, that was a welcome challenge, because it was the first time that an external party had examined Matrix so thoroughly. And that was not all: the Schuberg Philis engineers also immediately made suggestions for improvements. Nevertheless, they were impressed by the software: LeasePlan Bank could be confident that Five Degrees was a good partner that was able to bring the required stability and flexibility to their platform, and that LeasePlan Bank would be future-proof. In 2013, Five Degrees and Schuberg Philis delivered a proof of concept, and the management at LeasePlan Bank approved its performance.

OUTSOURCING AS SECOND NATURE

Outsourcing was already second nature to the bank. They asked Schuberg Philis to take up a stronger coordinating role for the IT ecosystem. That role has since become self-evident, but at the time our engineers found they had to adapt a little. In the end we also assumed responsibility for the bank’s contacts with software suppliers and moved from being an infrastructure supplier to acting as integrator. In 2014 we worked through the implementation process together, and in 2015 LeasePlan Bank went live with Matrix.

Keulemans and Flierman’s ambition is that LeasePlan Bank should continue to grow in the years ahead, both in terms of customer numbers and the functionalities on their platform, but without any increase in staff numbers. In their view, this requires ‘velocity’: achieving more with fewer resources, by bringing in the right expertise. Five Degrees has the same ambition. Matrix is now in service at fourteen banks in a range of countries, and Five Degrees expects to add a few more each year. Hohmann and Holmthorsson want to focus mainly on product improvement, and not so much on implementation and integration. Schuberg Philis has shown it can handle this role very well, and we are therefore the preferred partner of Five Degrees in the field of Banking as a Service.

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