Despite wind force 12 towards cloud: Hanseatic Bank has successfully migrated to the Atlassian Cloud despite high compliance and security requirements. For many years, the Hamburg-based bank has been considered one of the pioneers in the digitization of business processes in banking. With their cloud migration, the company has shown that although the path is sometimes challenging, the impact on both their organization and economics is all the greater for it. At its side, the bank has a cloud migration partner – also Hanseatic – who calms the waves.
Some may still know it as the "Otto Bank". After all, it was founded by none other than the entrepreneur Werner Otto in Hamburg in 1969: the Hanseatic Bank. Originally established to enable customers of Otto Versand to finance their wishes, Hanseatic Bank is now one of the leading credit card providers on the market. Consumer loans – credit cards and personal loans – continue to be an important area of business for the Hamburg-based bank. Thus, despite the Corona pandemic, the company was able to report an annual net profit of 59 million euros in 2020. In addition to the credit card business, the Hamburg-based bank's service portfolio includes three other core competencies: deposits, insurance, and factoring. With this steady expansion, more than 570 employees now take care of the needs and wishes of their customers and partners – and the trend is still rising. Therefore, transparent communication with both their customers and within the company itself is particularly important, in addition to a high quality of service. Close cooperation, daily exchanges within the teams, and the timely, consistent processing of tasks are crucial. This goes hand in hand with a major challenge: Linking all-important company processes smoothly. Furthermore, there is another key factor that requires good digital organization of all processes: A lot of employees have been working from home for the past two years as a result of the Corona crisis.
Hanseatic Bank has been at home in Hamburg since it was founded in 1969, and from the very beginning it has had customers and partners all over Germany. After all, Werner Otto had founded it to enable the customers of Otto Versand to finance their wishes. In 2005, the major French bank Société Générale took over 75 percent of the shares, while the Otto Group continues to hold 25 percent. In the meantime, both the customer base and the product range have expanded significantly. In addition to consumer loans, the Hamburg-based private bank's business areas now also include deposits, insurance and factoring. One specialty is its credit cards with innovative services for customers and cooperation partners.
Industry: Banking Sector Employees: 500+ Location: Hamburg, Germany Website: hanseaticbank.de
The IT department at Hanseatic Bank was looking for a uniform solution for optimal digital collaboration several years ago. Udo Erxleben, IT Change and Test Manager and employed at Hanseatic Bank since 2011, remembers: "There were many different ticket systems for different purposes that were used in several user groups. So when processing tasks or tickets, you first had to ask yourself: Who gives me the clearance? How do I document in the respective system? And how is the ticket processed? Fortunately, we were able to break it all down to a few products using Atlassian software." So, since 2017, Atlassian Confluence has served as an internal company wiki for collaborative documentation. A year later, Atlassian Jira was added and initially used in the IT teams for task management. "Over time, the demand for Jira increased in the other departments as well, for example in Marketing, which needed a Kanban board to make tasks visible and create reports," describes Marc Nerenberg, who as a collaboration expert grew into the administration of Atlassian products together with a small IT team. The Atlassian instance evolved iteratively so that by 2021 all Hanseatic Bank employees were collaborating in Confluence and about half in Jira. The result: a historically grown system that worked but resulted in some risks.
Anyone who works in the Atlassian environment knows that Scrum masters or developers often grow into their roles as administrators for Atlassian tools. This is because getting started with Atlassian products usually begins with smaller instances, which then grow over the years. More and more departments and processes are added, but at some point, it becomes confusing – or even "business-critical". If Jira and Confluence were to fail, work and service processes in the relevant departments would come to a standstill, resulting in time and financial losses. At that point, at the latest, a company needs a person with overall responsibility who keeps track of security, compliance, etc. and manages the instances. Hanseatic Bank knew this early enough and had already started in 2020 to set up a strategy for the organization and digitization of business processes using Atlassian tools. The special feature: it was to go to the cloud. "We realized early on that we had a lot of work to do to run our systems, to look after them, to maintain them, to patch them, and to drive them forward," Marc Nerenberg summarizes. Therefore, a migration to the Atlassian Cloud was obvious from a technical point of view alone.
With Hanseatic Bank's cloud strategy, the focus was on saving resources and only operating infrastructure internally when it makes sense. Because cloud products can be bought cheaply as so-called Software as a Service (SaaS) - the effort of patching and maintaining Jira, Confluence, and Co. is thus saved. The decision to migrate to the cloud was ultimately made for another reason: "The final trigger for the cloud migration was that the server licenses for Jira and Confluence were expiring and would no longer be supported in the future. So we only had the choice of either going to Atlassian Data Center or actually implementing our cloud strategy plan now with the Atlassian Cloud," summarizes Gabriele Frerichs, IT Change and Test Manager at Hanseatic Bank and in charge of the organizational part of the cloud migration. But in order to migrate to the cloud as a bank with all its business processes and data, a number of technical hurdles first had to be overcome and compliance challenges mastered. In addition, there were strict requirements from the parent company Société Générale – one of the most important and oldest commercial banks in France – as well as the mandatory requirements of the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority: BaFin.
In Germany, BaFin determines the requirements for the procurement and implementation of cloud products and cloud services for financial service providers. In doing so, it is considered one of the strictest and most demanding national regulators, in some cases setting even higher requirements than the European Banking Authority (EBA). Both authorities require that financial institutions like Hanseatic Bank supervise and monitor their cloud products and cloud services to a similar extent as their internal operations. This is the only way to ensure compliance and security of sensitive data outside the institution. "This presented us with a major challenge in terms of our compliance requirements because we first had to clarify whether our data was allowed in the cloud at all," emphasizes Gabriele Frerichs. Thus, the data residency still had to be checked in detail at the start of the migration project in February 2021. "We checked all the documents and forms together with our security officer. In the process, the information on the Atlassian website was fortunately very productive to substantiate all the evidence," Gabriele Frerichs summarizes. "In addition, both our legal and compliance departments reviewed Atlassian's Data Protection Addendum and ultimately gave it the green light." During the entire migration process – including holistic proof of concept from compliance to technology – Hanseatic Bank was able to count on external professional support.
In order to be able to provide professional support to companies like Hanseatic Bank, Atlassian has introduced a partner program. The so-called Atlassian Solution Partners are proven Atlassian product experts who, among other things, provide support in product configuration, solution customization, and the implementation of Atlassian tools in the cloud. Hanseatic Bank's selected Atlassian Solution Partner is Jodocus GmbH. It specializes in Atlassian cloud solutions and, in addition to a technically flawless migration, also attaches great importance to compliance with all compliance and data security regulations. Besides, the cloud experts at Jodocus work closely with the international software provider Atlassian on all issues relating to cloud software development. However, it was not only the proven all-round expertise in the Atlassian Cloud that convinced Hanseatic Bank: "We requested several offers from various Atlassian partners and Jodocus was already well in the hunt – especially because of their expertise in the area of compliance," explains Gabriele Frerichs. "Moreover, Jodocus had already worked for OTTO and our sister company Bank Deutsches Kraftfahrzeuggewerbe. That gave us additional confidence that we had chosen the right partner in Jodocus."
As announced in the 2020 annual report as a clearly formulated project, Hanseatic Bank, together with Jodocus, already comprehensively implemented the migration to the Atlassian Cloud at the end of 2021. Marc Nerenberg is pleased with the benefits. Since the switch to the Atlassian Cloud, Hanseatic Bank has benefited from monthly releases. Add-ons are patched automatically and test environments can be created easily and quickly. The IT specialist emphasizes: "The Atlassian Cloud has brought us significant improvements and makes us work faster. Because we no longer have to ask ourselves what we need to take into account in Java, where the certificate store is, and how our backup strategy works. All these things have now been virtually taken out of our hands, and we very much welcome that!"
A common side effect of cloud migration: migrating companies can consolidate and clean up their processes. The cloud experts at Jodocus even presuppose this step as the basis for a migration that is precisely tailored to the company's processes. So Jodocus checked which departments at Hanseatic Bank use Jira and Confluence, how many accesses are required, and which apps are really needed. With this knowledge, the cloud specialists were able to achieve optimal governance for the bank, as Jira and Confluence are now used strategically and according to plan, and corporate processes are mapped optimally and sustainably. "In the course of the cloud migration, we were able to optimize licenses and thus go deeper into the Atlassian structures of Hanseatic Bank. This helps the bank on the economic side and us to manage future projects even faster and to provide customer-oriented consulting," adds Christopher Mohr, Co-Founder of Jodocus GmbH.
Hanseatic Bank's Atlassian cloud migration went smoothly and in the shortest possible time with the help of Jodocus' cloud experts. It opens further doors for credit institutions to drive forward digitization even faster and more easily. Concrete steps are already in the works: the core team around Marc Nerenberg and Udo Erxleben is already making initial attempts to roll out Atlassian Bitbucket as a SaaS. "I'm sure we'll soon turn to Jodocus for Bitbucket licenses as well, and maybe we'll be able to pick up some more best practices and know-how," grins Marc Nerenberg. The sails for further cooperation between the two Hanseatic companies are set after this successful cloud migration.