At CNP Assurances, report creation was requested and performed in multiple silos, by multiple stakeholders, and based on processes involving non-scalable and labor-intensive manual operations. It was not possible to version the data extracts and for instance base them on past, present, or forecasted data. As a result, the reports did not always meet the requirements and with a risk that the data was inaccurate and many processes were duplicated due to the decentralized setup. Furthermore, updates to the core SimCorp Dimension platform were not covered by the data management setup in place at that time.. With the business growing and increasing demands on both internal and external reporting, including regulatory reporting, this situation was fast becoming unsustainable.
Making a business case for a new data warehouse
When looking at the options for improving their data management and report creation, CNP Assurances decided to implement a new data warehouse. The subsequent decision required was to choose between:
- Building an in-house solution from ground up using their choice of technologies
- Buying the SimCorp Data Warehouse solution that would be fully integrated with CNP Assurances’ backbone investment management system, SimCorp Dimension
Reviewing the pros and cons of each solution and after consulting with SimCorp, it quickly became clear that the buy vs. build scenarios were not hard to choose between. Building an in-house solution would mean no additional license fees if using existing technologies, however, it would mean that CNP Assurances would still need to adapt the solution to each new SimCorp Dimension release.
Based on these considerations and to prove out the options, CNP Assurances conducted a proof-of-concept with SimCorp, who, in only a few days, presented the firm with a solution meeting all its core requirements. This resulted in a clear business case for acquiring the SimCorp Data Warehouse solution based on a risk, cost, and functionality assessment.
Implementation of the SimCorp Data Warehouse
Whereas many investment managers share the perception that implementing a new data warehouse solution is a very time-and resource-demanding task, the SimCorp Data Warehouse solution was easier to deploy for CNP Assurances than an in-house datamodel and quite easy to install and configure.
Using the standardized solution from SimCorp, which is built on industry best-practices, there was minimal implementation effort required to deploy the out-of-the-box interfaces on to the CNP Assurances’ core SimCorp Dimension platform and populate the pre-defined data warehouse. Furthermore, due to the best-practice data structure of the solution, the additional technical requirements were limited to creating CNP Assurances-specific user-defined fields (free codes) and the setup of the external data sources to be loaded into the SimCorp Data Warehouse.
Data belongs to the business who is the owner of the data warehouse project
Whereas implementing the standard SimCorp Data Warehouse was not a difficult or time-consuming task, the real challenge at CNP Assurances – and for any other firm who acquires a new data warehouse – is to define what the reporting needs are and to communicate this to the IT department. The majority of the work CNP Assurances had to do was to establish a business data layer by defining data extractions from the data warehouse data model into data deliverables (data marts) that would fit the reporting needs of the business.
Even though the translation from the model to the reporting deliverables requires analysis, time and resources, CNP Assurances had the substantial benefit of not having to understand the complexity of data structures in SimCorp Dimension. It is possible to extract the information required from an abstracted, more business-oriented data structure with comprehensive coverage, which minimizes the effort required.
Working closely with the vendor – before, during, and after implementation
All the way from project initiation to solution deployment, there has been a close and transparent cooperation between key CNP Assurances stakeholders and SimCorp experts. Throughout this process, the vendor’s expertise and experience with Data Warehouse implementations has reduced the time spent on meetings and consultancy hours to a minimum and mitigated the risks when compared to an inhouse-built data warehouse. Furthermore, the total cost of ownership on the long term is lower than for an inhouse-built solution as SimCorp is taking care of the maintenance of the warehouse and all updates to the SimCorp Dimension core platform is automatically reflected in the solution.
Working closely with the data warehouse vendor also means that CNP Assurances can influence the product roadmap and get frequent updates on this from SimCorp when needed. Even though CNP Assurances can extend the Data Warehouse solution without SimCorp involvement, due to its flexibility, the firm’s approach has been to work with SimCorp to ensure the changes are closely aligned to main SimCorp Dimension platform and using standard product and best practices.
Expectations for the future
After a successful implementation, fine-tuning of the configuration, and the business-side having achieved a clearer picture of the reporting requirements at CNP Assurances, the firm’s employees now have more time to work on value-added tasks and exception handling instead of spending time on manual work and duplicate processes. In the future, CNP Assurances can obtain more accurate metrics on efficiency gains achieved with the fully integrated SimCorp Data Warehouse solution, however, it is already now clear that it is a substantial advantage that new updates to the SimCorp Dimension core platform and new investment strategies are automatically reflected in the Data Warehouse. Furthermore, the automation of the report creation, the quality of the internal/external data which can now be time-stamped within the Data Warehouse, the ability and flexibility for the business end-users to use this new self-service BI-tool without IT involvement are all clear benefits to the company whom are also confident that the solution can scale as the business grows.
It has also been a clear learning for CNP Assurances that it is of high importance for the business to achieve a clear picture of their reporting needs to be able to communicate the requirements to IT and ensure that resources are efficiently spent and that the output meets the demands. Additionally, establishing a clear data governance structure is a key part of this process.
Name: CNP Assurances
Headquarters: Paris, France
AUM: EUR 335bn (excluding unit-linked) under management