Garanti BBVA Supports 19,000 Employees with Enterprise Ticketing Solution

To better connect employees in bank branches and corporate offices, Garanti BBVA Technology delivers an enterprise-wide ticketing system centralizing and automating over 200 employee processes

In a global organization, getting the right requests to the right people can be a time-consuming process. Never-ending threads of emails and searching through various systems for the correct point of contact can make even the most straightforward of processes take twice as long to complete.

Garanti BBVA, Turkey’s second largest and most valuable bank with 1.2 trillion Turkish Lira (or ~$65 billion USD) in assets, is no stranger to this pain when connecting their 19,000 employees between corporate offices and over 850 branches. Responsible for the technology supporting both internal and external processes is Garanti BBVA Technology, the bank’s 2,200-person technology provider.

Historically, a combination of legacy systems and manual employee processes would manage the flow of requests between internal departments. The Garanti BBVA Technology team recognized that this experience was sub-optimal, and with one of the primary collaboration systems reaching end-of-life, decided that it was time to reassess and rebuild. In October of 2021, Garanti BBVA Technology adopted low-code to rapidly digitize over 200 internal workflow processes into a single user interface: The Corpus application.

Meeting Enterprise-Wide Standards

Director of Enterprise Applications for Garanti BBVA Technology, Ozan Solmaz, has been with the organization for nearly two decades. Garanti BBVA has historically been a traditional development shop, delivering enterprise solutions with Java or .NET, and running on JBoss or Microsoft IIS servers.

In 2019, Solmaz became responsible for all enterprise applications and development across HR, finance, and supply chain management within Garanti BBVA and its subsidiaries. In this new role, he was interested in revisiting a tool he had heard about a few years prior at an industry conference – low-code – as a means to rapidly digitize custom areas of the business, including the end-of-life internal request solution.

The Garanti BBVA IT team started exploring low-code providers and ultimately decided to leverage Mendix as it met their key criteria to:

  • Rapidly deliver a new solution: Solmaz and his team were eager to leverage the many out-of-the-box capabilities from both a front and back-end perspective, including templates, components, integration capabilities, and workflow, to deliver a new system before their previous one reached end of life.
  • Standardize and modernize their UX: Solmaz said, “In our previous tool, the UI was old and user satisfaction was quite low. Mendix provided us a template which was easy to use and offered a standard interface. This would make it easier for employees to have a consistent experience when they needed to work in different processes.”
  • Meet enterprise-level workflow standards: “We had a very specific need – an enterprise process – managing the demands or tickets flowing between departments within our headquarters, branches, or various subsidiaries. We needed a tool that has a really strong workflow functionality, which is why we decided to go with Mendix,” he added.

Garanti BBVA began developing Corpus (short for ‘Corporate Us’) in October of 2021 with a plan to deliver in phases:

  • Phase 1 (October 2021 – February 2022): Deliver the overarching Corpus application
  • Phase 2 (February 2022 – April 2022): Migrating the solution to Garanti BBVA’s private cloud environment
  • Phase 3 (April 2022 – September 2022): Rolling creation of the 200+ corporate processes within Corpus, while simultaneously onboarding employees to the new application

Introducing a Low-Code Way of Working

Solmaz acknowledged that simply adopting the right platform is only one half of the equation. The other half was enabling a team of career high-code developers to be engaged and excited in this new way of working, so he worked hard to demonstrate the benefits of low-code early on to drive advocacy within the IT organization.

The initial team building Corpus consisted of four developers, three analysts, and a product owner from the business side. This team of eight was a mix of outside hires and experienced developers from within Garanti BBVA. One of those team members was Expert Software Engineer, Cengiz Akarsu, whose background consisted of over a decade’s worth of .NET, Java, C+, and Python experience.

“Working at Garanti BBVA was my first time working in Mendix. When I joined the company, they explained low-code and Mendix during my onboarding,” Akarsu recounted. “I started by researching more online, and I liked that it was a new perspective for me. I started with the Mendix Academy program which offered a lot of useful courses. By the time I joined the team [building Corpus] they were five months into the project, and I was able to start participating immediately.”

The low-code learning curve wasn’t steep for someone with a background like Akarsu’s, and he quickly saw the benefit of automating one of his priority tasks while getting up to speed on new development projects: debugging. “When I joined the project, I wanted to debug for the team, because if I start with the bugs I can directly get involved in the logic,” he said. “The debugging tool is very useful in Mendix, and after just two or three weeks I had a good sense for the project insights, ideas, and structure.”

To further ensure initial success, Garanti BBVA leaned on the Mendix Expert Services team in their early development phases. “Changing your development environment is difficult if you are a big organization and you have good developers with experience in Java or .NET. Having someone who can help you in your early days and guide you on that first application, correcting mistakes or pointing you to the best practices, is very valuable. That’s why we decided to use the Mendix Expert Services and we were really satisfied with the service we had in those initial phases,” Solmaz shared.

Improving Usability in 200 Employee Processes

With a team steadily trained up on Mendix and rapidly finishing Phase 1 of development, it became time to address the many decentralized and legacy processes which would ultimately live in Corpus. The charter was clear, said Solmaz, “To provide only one application for these enterprise process needs.”

Prioritizing Employee Experience

Here, experts like Gizem Başoğlu, a Business Process Engineer, and Fatih Can Yıldırım, a Business Analyst, were critical in understanding the needs of the various end-user groups within Garanti BBVA.

“Our old system was very outdated,” said Başoğlu. “It was complex to use and not user-friendly. During the migration period we observed many complex processes, but we didn’t migrate all of them to Corpus. Many of them were retired because they weren’t being used anymore, and others were migrated to our banking systems. What we wanted to create was a straightforward demand management platform with a good user experience.”

In an organization of 22,000 people, this meant assessing ~200 processes to incorporate into Corpus. “Before we even decided which processes to build, we did workshops with our branch staff, business departments, and other subsidiary employees. We gathered a lot of data around what they did and didn’t want, and what wasn’t working well for them in the old platform. This helped us to start developing category-based and role-based functionality,” Fatih Yıldırım shared.

Başoğlu summarizes the Corpus users into two categories:

  • Service Providers: The corporate departments such as legal, HR, or finance who own a given set of information which an employee within the organization might need to place a request for.
  • Demand Owners: The employees from bank (branches, regions, HQ or other subsidiaries) who need to submit a ticket request to a corporate department.

Instead of an employee sending emails around the organization looking for information, as a Demand Owner they simply log into Corpus and submit a ticket to the Service Provider in question. The application now houses processes ranging from requests for legal guidance, building service management, business trip payment operations, and HR solution requests.

Standardized Enterprise Processes

As a centralized hub for internal requests, Corpus will offer new insights for various areas of the business to work more efficiently in the future. For instance, by having all the data around requests in one platform, the IT team has also created dashboards which will show service providers the status of requests, how long it is taking to fulfill requests, or where requests are getting stuck. Business units will ultimately have a more transparent view into their team’s contributions allowing them to accurately resource, set SLAs (service level agreements), and fulfill requests more quickly.

The Corpus application is web-based and accessible for all employees in Google Chrome. Employees log in, submit their requests, and can follow the status within the portal as well as through email notifications.

An Adaptable, Digital Solution

While the Garanti BBVA team took painstaking efforts to audit all the existing processes which would be included in Corpus, they have prepared themselves to frequently incorporate new ones as business processes can be added or changed at any time in an organization of their size.

“If you wanted to create a process in the old system, we needed to write it from scratch,” Yıldırım said.

Leveraging Digital Ecosystems to Deliver with Speed

Chief among the reasons Ozan Solmaz and his team decided to leverage low-code to create Corpus was speed-to-market. “Working in a low-code platform allowed us to focus more on the business needs instead of the technical needs,” Solmaz said. “That was a big advantage on our side. My team didn’t need to worry about creating different versions of CSS. We could focus on the data on our side, and then easily change things like a template color or font.”

Engineers like Akarsu took full advantage of the Mendix Marketplace’s out-of-the-box functionality, components, and integration capabilities. “Our aim is to use all Mendix-created modules because they adhere to our strict company rules, and we trust them. For example, Data Widget modules, Deep Link modules, Nanoflow modules, Task Helpers, Web Actions, the Encryption Module, and Workflow Comments, to name a few.” The team was also able to easily integrate Garanti BBVA standards around authentication, authorization, and security protocols into the new Corpus application.

The speed of development can be felt across the team, as Başoğlu says, “Our IT teams work agile and in close collaboration across all development platforms. But the difference with our main banking processes [built on .NET or Java] are more complex while comparing with Mendix, and if you want to make any changes the lead time is long. But in Mendix, we imagine something, we design the process, and then we can generate it in just two weeks.”

Mendix Customer Success Manager for Garanti BBVA, Mark van Rooijen, added, “To be competitive in banking and financial services, organizations need to adapt and move quickly. The Garanti BBVA team has invested in our platform which allows them to find efficiencies through visual development, reusable components, and an ecosystem of integrations. The ability to empower their employees more quickly ultimately yields a better result for their customers.”

Tackling Complexity with Low-Code

As of September 2022, Garanti BBVA’s 22,000 employees have access to Corpus and the platform is managing around 2,000 tickets per day (Solmaz and his team expect this to increase to 5,000 in the coming months).

So far, the team has heard overwhelmingly positive feedback, and Başoğlu observed that users need little to no enablement. “You don’t need any training, you just find the related department in the service catalog and input the necessary information to create a ticket. We haven’t had any questions on how to use it because it is really that easy.”

“It’s exciting to reflect on because Mendix is very important for us. We can generate functions very easily and quickly. It’s our first [low-code] application, and we’re happy to have it in such a short time, and now we can go forward with new ones,” she added.

Garanti BBVA is already planning to deliver new applications with Mendix across their many lines of business including pension and life insurance, leasing, factoring, and securities; two applications already in the works are:

  • Inform, a data collection application which mitigates the use of data sharing in Excel and email across the organization, a company-wide challenge which the IT team saw increase during COVID. Inform will keep data sharing confined to a centralized, secure, IT-managed environment.
  • A vehicle management system, as Garanti BBVA owns and leases around 2,000 vehicles. The platform is a reservation management tool which will more efficiently manage the bank’s drivers and vehicles.

The idea that low-code is best positioned for simple processes is quickly turning on its head for the Garanti BBVA IT team. “What’s been exciting for me working on the Corpus and Inform projects is that they are not small applications,” said Yıldırım “Corpus has a lot of business logic and over 100 paths that we need to test. It’s a very complex application which Mendix is able to handle.”

Solmaz, like many IT leaders, has a decision tree to consider when delivering updated or new solutions and is already expanding the potential use cases for Mendix in conjunction with his architects. “At first we thought that Mendix would be best for non-financial needs, but after seeing the success and speed, we think that there are some financial cases where there are a lot of integrations that Mendix could be a good fit.”