Eclipse Scout for Raiffeisen
Modern user interface with unchanged business logic at a fixed price
Raiffeisen implements core banking application for loan processing with Eclipse Scout: Staff throughout Switzerland uses the new user interface in the credit sector for applications, approvals and loan contracts.
With 3.7 million customers, Raiffeisen Group is Switzerland’s leading retail bank: nearly every second person in the country is a Raiffeisen customer. Local roots and customer proximity are among the bank’s central values. The third force in the Swiss banking market with more than 10,000 employees practices these values daily within the country's densest banking network. Customers receive advice on the topics of payment traffic, investments and retirement at 1,015 bank locations. The mortgage business is particularly popular: nearly every fifth mortgage in Switzerland originates from a Raiffeisen bank. This means that loan processing is a very important topic for the company.
“The existing solution based on JSP was growing long in the tooth and was increasingly causing problems. We had to replace the JSP user interface with a new GUI to reduce the risk and to be prepared for the future,” according to Christian Friedl. The Front Development department head at Raiffeisen emphasizes that the credit business is an essential part of Raiffeisen’s core business: “We had to quickly provide the bank with an efficient and functional tool in order to continue ensuring smooth procedures. In consideration of our low level of experience with the Scout framework and the learning curve, it was deemed inefficient for us to implement the solution ourselves. Furthermore, our staff was fully engaged with other technical projects that belong to their core duties. We had to quickly find a good solution and therefore decided to go with an existing and established framework,” stated Christian Friedl.
There were previous considerations regarding whether to migrate the entire application to Java. In this context, a front-end evaluation also took place. “That is how we got to know the Scout framework,” explained Christian Friedl. The specialist has seen plenty of GUI technologies come and go. His goal was to make the bank independent in order to reduce costs and risks. “We will be able to uncouple ourselves with the Scout framework and free ourselves from the many changes that were previously necessary. The framework is also used at BSI. This means that it is kept up-to-date and we are always at the state of the art in terms of development.” Peter Nüdling, Software Architect at Raiffeisen also remembers the evaluation:
“It was quickly clear that Eclipse Scout matched us well as a standard. With BSI we have found a partner with impressive technical expertise and team members. Their proximity to us and the common German language are advantageous for the implementation.”
In this way, the modernization of the user interface was carried out quickly within the scope of a fixed-price project. Certain framework conditions had to be adhered to in the process. To avoid training time and expense, the user interface layout had to be transferred one-to-one to the new Scout client. And to keep the risk as low as possible, the backend service had to remain unchanged, whereas the Scout service should access these services through a newly created REST interface. Both goals were met in short order thanks to the dedicated project team and the modern Eclipse Scout open source framework. “We sought to reduce the technical risk as much as possible. Other frameworks are very specialized and require expensive specific know-how. Scout is a framework that any Java developer can quickly grasp,” according to Christian Friedl.
A “superficial” showcase project
Within just four months, the BSI Scout team, along with specialist support from Raiffeisen, developed the new user interface for loan processing in the back-office. “Our representatives and back-office staff can now quickly and efficiently service customers with a modern user interface. The entire process is covered, from the loan application through internal reviews, permissions and approvals and on through to the contract. The individual applications and permissions are implemented in Scout. We have thus initially implemented a core portion of loan processing with Scout,” according to Peter Nüdling.
The project ran smoothly and was even designated a “showcase project” by Raiffeisen: “The collaboration between BSI and Raiffeisen was very successful. BSI provided a great deal of experience and good developers. Our staff optimally augmented the BSI expertise with their specialized input. The collaboration was uncomplicated and at eye level,” explained Christian Friedl. Although it was a fixed-price project, no finished product was delivered; instead a close collaboration took place at Raiffeisen in Dietikon.
“I would do it exactly the same way again. The collaboration worked well on all levels. We immediately got along, were able to rapidly make decisions and went productive at 330 banks in record time.”
Christian Friedl, Front Development department head at Raiffeisen
BSI supported Raiffeisen right though the piloting phase. After launching the modernized application, Raiffeisen will again take on the maintenance and further development of the application itself.
“Despite the short notice of the request, we were effectively supported and openly advised about what was possible and impossible. The offer was realistic; the fixed price was important for the bank. The fact that the BSI staff worked with us on-site in the Raiffeisen premises very much contributed to the rapid know-how transfer. And with our support contract, we are completely independent. But, if needed, we can ask questions and count on a rapid reply,” according to the Front Development department head. The team will continue working with Scout.
The Raiffeisen developers are currently developing further components to integrate in the new Scout architecture. “We are attempting to transfer the other applications, which are still based on the old technology, into Scout on a themed basis. In this way we are eliminating dependencies in specific areas on outmoded technologies and can, at the same time, offer customers a good, modern user interface. It is very important to us that we can offer the sub-applications entirely in Scout in order to create as few interfaces with other applications as possible. The plan is to continue on this path and to implement the specialist consulting applications in Scout.”
Raiffeisen also examined the Eclipse Scout roadmap in detail. Thanks to Scout’s Java-based application model, Raiffeisen can calmly approach a switch to modern HTML5 technology. Only minimal costs are to be anticipated for the switching of the current rich client technology to HTML5. Even the experienced software architects approved the Scout architecture:
“With Scout we are creating better prospects than we have ever had before. The framework is actively further developed by BSI and also used by BSI itself. You can only develop good tools if you actively implement and use them yourself.”
Peter Nüdling, Software Architect at Raiffeisen
The users aren't the only ones who are satisfied with the new platform. “Even critical employees have since recognized the added value offered by the Scout framework,” commented Peter Nüdling. And new employees quickly learn to handle the new architecture, which also has a positive impact on developer efficiency. “We implemented part of the core banking solution with Scout. This must be solid and secure in terms of investment protection. With JSP we found that the GUI technologies often had short life spans. I am convinced that with Scout we will be in a good position in the long term and that we can integrate new technologies without problems. With Scout we can concentrate on development of the business logic and supply customers with a good specialized banking product,” summed up Peter Nüdling.