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The insurance industry has been undergoing change for years, as new market participants, increasing regulatory requirements and, last but not least, the global pandemic have increased competitive pressure significantly. To stay ahead in this disruptive market environment, Generali relies on long-term growth and digital investments targeting improved transparency – a strategy that is building the foundation for agility and future viability.
For Generali Deutschland, agility means bringing new products and services to market quickly, reliably and in compliance with regulations. This strategy is reflected in the company’s IT. Its IT management is pioneering in the industry – and part of that is its holistic approach to enterprise release management with Alfabet. This software for enterprise architecture, IT planning and portfolio management provides a comprehensive overview of the company’s application and technology portfolios, the responsible owners and all of the specialized architectures for the company’s many business functions. As a central hub, Alfabet collects all the information required for the company’s five main annual releases and vets that information against the architecture it has documented in its repository. Without Alfabet, there would be no view of the dependencies among the numerous applications, which – in the case of a conflict – could have a negative impact on IT and business continuity.
Generali’s central release management runs seamlessly and virtually error free – and the team there is proud of this: “Before Alfabet, not all users were aware of the changes being made to the various interfaces. This impacted process integrity significantly,” explains Thomas Wittrock, Enterprise Release Manager at Generali. “Now it is possible to see at a glance where there are technical or content-related dependencies between systems and which companies in the Group are affected,” he says.
In short, Alfabet has led to transparency at all levels. Up to 100 systems are involved in each release, and the release content targets, among other things, process optimizations, service measures, new products and regulatory requirements. All dependencies are recorded and assessed – with up to 80 interfaces. Another positive side effect: diligent documentation of the information by the release requester and the release management team ensures a reliable data basis, which is absolutely necessary for successful enterprise architecture management.
“To keep our processes running smoothly, it’s very important for everyone to know what’s changing. We have created the ideal conditions for that with Alfabet,” says Detlef Lemmen, IT Architect at Generali Deutschland. To date, almost 1,000 applications have been documented in the software. That portfolio includes around 350 applications that are regularly involved in release dates.
Generali is also confident that it will be able to meet rising regulatory requirements, as compliance-related information is entered and displayed in Alfabet. This includes an analysis of security requirements in four categories, recovery priorities and the related emergency management. Enterprise release management helps the company to be agile while at the same time meeting governance requirements. All Agile teams must document their deployments in Alfabet. With the appropriate decoupling, the deployments can be approved and discharged from the central release management process. Prerequisites for this are a clean documentation and proof of whether they conform to CI/CD and compliance specifications.
The next step for the team at Generali is connecting Alfabet to Jira to be able to import demands and requirements from Jira into the release management framework in Alfabet. This will provide a detailed view of the individual demands and requirements and their related architecture elements, and thus insight into potential hindrances to a seamless release. As per Generali’s strategy, this will further increase transparency in all areas and maintain the company’s agility.