How Citigroup Measures Itself

How Citigroup Measures Itself

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The “How Citigroup Measures Itself” business case in the Electronic Commerce text book focuses on how Global Corporate Investment and Banking (GCIB), which was a newly formed division of Citigroup, developed an internal system to monitor all IT and EC projects for all organizations that were brought together to form GCIB. The system, called Mystic (My Systems and Technology Information Center), was developed because of a need for reliable productivity checks and measures for all organizations within GCIB. Mystic's primary function is monitoring the performance of Citigroup GCIB's IT staff corporate-wide, while allowing project sponsors from the business side to check the status of their projects. Mystic provides a complete set of metrics and an all-around view of all IT and EC projects, with numerous tracking options including by project owner, delivery date, and budget. The metrics generated by Mystic, which allow tracking of expenditures and performance by individual, group, and department, are tailored to each individual's hierarchical level within the organization, but everyone can monitor their colleagues' performance.
According to the text, the productivity benefits resulting from the Mystic portal include a 15% improvement in on-time delivery and a 50% increase in project load within all organizations throughout GCIB as mentioned in the text. There are multiple activities performed by Mystic that work in unison to increase productivity. First, by tracking metrics for every employee, project, and manager, it gives users a set of performance management tools that helps develop goals for the organization and lets individual users know where they stand in respect to those goals. Mystic also manages Citigroup's technology assets from both external vendors and applications developed in-house. Another feature of Mystic is the Reusable Asset Manager (RAM) that tracks reusable code components by who developed them, what they are, what they do and where they're being used. This provides developers with an inventory of code components they can reuse to expedite future development projects. The text noted, “In 2003, RAM helped the IT staff identify reusable software components worth a total of $117 million, resulting in a significant savings to the business and improved quality and time-to-market.” Data tracking and organization within Mystic assists Citigroup GCIB's IT managers with watching key projects in their portfolio. Last but not least, Mystic has Knowledge Centres that provide a complete collection of internal development expertise. When a specialist in a specific technology is recognized, part of their job is to write down their knowledge of the system and function as an in-house specialist to other Citigroup developers.

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This increases productivity by not having to “re-invent the wheel” or waste time trying to search for a subject matter expert.
There are many intangible benefits as a result of GCIB’s use of Mystic. One immeasurable benefit is a better front end focus by both project developers and business sponsors to ensure that project specifications are complete and fully understood by both groups. This cooperation is accomplished as a result of a customer satisfaction survey that Mystic generates to project developers and business sponsors at the end of each project. The survey allows each group to rate the other on performance and participation throughout the project. Another incalculable benefit is the Citigroup Technology Catalog (CTC), which manages Citigroup’s technology assets, by tracking applications developed internally and those acquired from external vendors. CTC offers a database of the applications and components that exist throughout the enterprise. If, for example, a specific application is being upgraded, a query could be done across the enterprise to find out where it is being used. As a result, the application can be upgraded or replaced on an enterprise -wide basis and the savings could be huge.
Mystic measures performance in three categories, productivity, quality, and controls, that makes up Citigroup's performance model. The productivity metrics quantify how much a developer is getting done by measuring the average completion time of projects, the status of late projects, cost per project, cost variance, the extent and value of application component reuse, support costs and other factors. The quality metrics measure both project sponsor and developer satisfaction with the project. Controls measure project risk, budget versus actual spending per project, and data quality. Citigroup understands the need for the ability to modify the metrics as needed, so the metrics are constantly changing with the needs of the business.
Performance tracking at such high detail when a department requests funding for an EC project from top management is key to increasing efficiencies that result in increased productivity and cost savings. It is critical that all projects get funneled through decision makers at the top to ensure that each project meets certain criteria including organizational goals, budget constraints, and proper prioritization. Many times employees at lower levels do not completely understand the direction the company is moving in and are not equipped to make funding decisions on proposed projects. In order to make educated decisions, it is important that the decision makers have as much information instantly available in an easy to read format. Mystic was designed to manage and provide metrics with variable views for thousands of projects. The managers of Citigroup focus on top priority projects by configuring Mystic to display specific views of critical projects.
In my opinion, Mystic is a very valuable tool for managing and tracking projects at all levels. It is critical to have a one system that can house all information about all projects within the organization. It saves time and money by ensuring that there is a governance system in place that ensures that projects meet the proper criteria and once in progress, they stay on schedule and within budget. My company has a similar process for introducing new projects where the project has to step through a six stage process, where certain criteria must be met during each stage. VP approvals must take place in order for the project to move to the next stage and ultimately launch into production. During stage zero, the project strategies and benefits are pitched to the VP’s from all impacted organizations. This is where they first decide if the project fits in with the company direction and vision. If the project progresses to stage one, other impacted business owners are engaged to identify any possible impacts to business and estimated costs for each. During stage one, the VP’s look to see if it the estimated costs will justify the benefits. If the project progresses to stage two, then each impacted group assigns project team members and the business requirements are gathered. Based on the business requirements, IT prepares a high level assessment with estimated costs and the VP’s again assess the project to ensure that the project is still a fit from a business and financial perspective. If the project progresses to stage three, the IT development work and testing begins and the project must still pass through two more stages before it is approved for launch into production. We also have a system similar to Mystic that house and allow for extensive tracking of all of the projects Prior to moving to this new product/project launch system, various organizations throughout the company would attend a weekly call to submit proposed projects to a panel representing various areas of the business. These business representatives would ask questions to determine if the project impacted their area of the business. If so, they would assign a project team member to assist with gathering business requirements, documenting training, etc. There was really no upper level governance, so there was way too many projects in the funnel and not enough resources to support all of them. As a result there were many projects that were delayed, cancelled, never worked on, duplicates, etc. So I know first hand that it is critical to a large corporation have a system like Mystic for housing and tracking all projects.

Works Cited

Turban, Efraim, et al. Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective 2006. 4th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006
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