Technology connects people globally
Working on projects with colleagues around the globe has never been easier thanks to technology. Credit Suisse's employees tell us about the benefits as well as the challenges.
Global cooperation – using the skills and expertise of employees across the globe – is one of Credit Suisse's core values. Not only does it add diversity to bring in new ideas and fresh perspectives. It also enables the bank to work on a specific task around the clock. But to be able to carry out projects involving teams located across multiple regions, state-of-the-art technology is required.
Automated Publishing Tool Facilitates Editing Process
Credit Suisse has therefore developed a special application enabling its employees to work on the same document simultaneously. This technology, named CMAP (Content Modules for Automated Publishing), lays the basis for tailor-made analytical publications aimed at the bank's Private Banking clients. "It has facilitated the life of the bank's editors, research analysts, strategists and portfolio managers," says Zurich-based Gabriel Marx, who leads the project within IT.
The software enables employees to compile reports in close cooperation with their colleagues based in other countries or even continents. The tool is basically a publishing system with automated layout, aimed at supplying various client segments. It is used to write various ad hoc reports, such as Credit Suisse's Investment Daily or Investment Monthly, Research Alerts, Economic Alerts, the Global Economic Monitor or Company Notes. Numerous functions have been embedded into the CMAP software to enable a simple and efficient editing process since its launch in 2011.
Maintains the Work Flow Momentum Across Time Zones
To keep a sustained work flow momentum and to be able to work on a project 24/7 is crucial for Credit Suisse. "The CMAP tool greatly speeds up the editing process as e-mails do not have to be sent to people in different teams, who are located in different regions. Employees can immediately see the status of the report and they obtain alerts when it is their turn to work on tasks assigned to them in the document" explains Magdalena Kanicka, a Wroclaw-based business analyst. Her work tasks, amongst others, include improving the CMAP tool and testing the software's new functions ahead of their release.
"People carrying out the review of the documents often sit in different time zones," says Magdalena, citing Credit Suisse's Investment Daily as a good example. Some economic data or corporate news are written in Zurich. The research report is then edited in Australia, compiled in CMAP in Singapore or Hong Kong, before being finalized and legally scrutinized by the control room in Hong Kong and then sent out to clients in the early morning – in Europe." The advantage of this tool is that it guides all different parties involved in writing the report through the editing process, while the system takes care of most details such as including the correct legal disclaimer and the correct corporate layout" Magdalena concludes.
Continuous Improvements Ongoing
Today, a team of three developers based in India work on improving and updating the application. "Not only do we manage the operations of CMAP; we also include additional functionalities such as new templates, or develop and roll out new versions of the tool aimed at specific teams," says Pune-based Sumit Ray, the software's main developer. To keep track of the development process and the testing of new functions, Sumit and his colleagues use a ticketing tool where comments can be made to facilitate communication with their colleagues in Poland.
Another useful tool used to keep teams spread around different regions fully up to speed is regular conference calls. "This way we all remain fully informed about the latest status of ongoing projects and can also discuss solutions with a larger group of colleagues involved. During these calls, we can demonstrate live ongoing developments. This enables all participants to provide their input and come up with ideas we might not necessarily have thought of. This way, we often come up with better solutions," Sumit adds.
Clear Communication Is Key
There are of course also challenges emerging when employees sit at different locations and different time zones where they not necessarily can communicate during their working hours. To succeed instructions must be crystal clear and the individuals' communication style understood by the other team member. "When I started at the bank, I used to issue general instructions to the developers based in India. I quickly learned that I had to write down the requirements in great details," recalls Magdalena.
Learning to cooperate across cultures
Cultural differences may also emerge and should not be overlooked when teams from different cultures join forces. Magdalena for instance noted that the team that she was working with based in India did not contact her when an instruction was unclear. "In India, you generally don’t ask for help if you do not know your colleague or other team members very well" she explains. But over time the cooperation between the teams in Wroclaw and Pune has greatly improved.
"Not only have I learned how to write very concise tickets. The developers now know they are always welcome to contact me and ask if something is unclear," Magdalena says. "Yes, we’ve learned this. Now we definitely ask," echoes Mohit Jethva, another CMAP developer based in Pune.