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Interview

Case Study: Using HP Tools to Improve Applications Management and Costs

A case study on how Genworth Financial uses HP tools to improve application delivery

We're going to focus on Genworth Financial, and talk about a number of different products used to improve application delivery, performance testing, and also operational integrity. Then, we'll look at the transition to a more comprehensive role for those tools, working in concert, and eventually with the opportunity to have an Executive Scorecard view into operations vis-à-vis these products and solutions.

We're here to talk about Genworth Financial’s experience with Tim Perry, Chief Technology Officer for the Retirement and Protection Division at Genworth Financial in Richmond, Virginia. Welcome to the show, Tim. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Gardner: Tell me about your stock in trade? What is Genworth Financial and why is technology so important to you?

Perry: Genworth Financial is an insurance company that covers many different areas like life insurance, long-term care insurance, mortgage insurance, wealth management, and things like that, and we're here for a number of reasons. We use HP for helping us just maintain and keep a lot of our applications alive.

Gardner: Could you give us a sense of your operations, the scope of your IT organization?

Perry: Our IT organization is, depending on the division, hundreds of employees, but then we also have contractors that work internationally on our behalf. So, throughout the world, we’ve got developers in different places.

Gardner: How about some metrics around the number or types of applications that you're using?

Perry: We have a gazillion applications, like every big company has, but for our division alone, we have around 50 applications that are financially important, and we track them more than any of the others. So that gives you a feel for the number of applications. There are a lot of small ones, but 50 big ones.

Gardner: Let’s take a tour through the way in which you are using HP products, you have ALM, PPM, Performance Monitoring, and BSM. Give me some perspective on what you are doing with these HP products?

Requirements management

Perry: Let me start with a little bit of a roadmap. We brought in Quality Center, way back before ALM. We brought that in mainly for requirements management and for testing. That one has evolved over the years to the point where we really wanted to get traceability for developers, testers, business analysts, everything. That’s what we're hoping for in the ALM stack of things on its own.

PPM came in for a lot of different reasons. Project Portfolio Management was a piece of it. We had a very raw portfolio of what we are working on. Since then it’s become a service request management within our division, much like what you do with the helpdesk, but for our division in applications, everything from account request to marketing, workflow approvals, things like that. So PPM has taken on life of its own.

The newest one is performance engineering, and performance engineering to us means performance monitoring and performance testing. We’ve had performance testing for a while but we’ve not been great at monitoring and keeping track of our applications as they are living and breathing.

Those are the three big silos for us, and I just want to mention that’s the reason this HP Performance Suite that we are about to talk about is intriguing to us because it starts to glue all of this together.

Gardner: On June 1, HP announced its IT Performance Suite, and a number of people are taking a really deep look at it here at Discover. Tell me what your initial perceptions are and what your potential plans are?

The Executive Scorecard is probably the epitome of it, the top of it, that talks to these executives about where things are, the health of the applications, how we're doing on projects.



Perry: Just like our own internal applications, it felt as if up until now a lot of these suites that HP provides stood on their own and didn't have a lot of integration with each other. What I am starting to see is a lot of synergy around good integrations. The Executive Scorecard is probably the epitome of it, the top of it, that talks to these executives about where things are, the health of the applications, how we're doing on projects, all those things that are the key performance indicators that we live and breathe.

That’s cool, but in order to get the scorecard, that implies data is available to the scorecard and integrations are there in place. That combination is the magic we're looking for.

Gardner: And how about the KPIs? That would bring some standardization and allow you to be able to start doing apples-to-apples comparisons and getting a stronger bead on what is the reality of your IT and therefore, how you can improve on it.

Important indicators

Perry: It appears that HP has looked at 170 or so KPIs that the industry, not just HP, but everybody, has said are important indicators. We can pick and choose which ones are important to us to put them on the scorecard. Those are the ones that we can focus on from an integration standpoint. It’s not like we have to conquer world hunger all at once.

Gardner: I’ve heard folks say that the scorecard is of interest, not just for IT, but to bring a view of what’s going on in IT to the business leadership and the financial leadership in the organization, and therefore, make IT more integral rather than mysterious.

Perry: I have to say this. Our IT organization is part of operations. Last year, at this same event, we had more operations folks here than IT. I think HP should take the IT moniker off and start talking more about "business operations." That’s just my personal view of this, and I agree, this helps us not just roll up information to IT executives, but to our actual operations folks.

Gardner: Do you have any sense of what the integration and the continued evolution of a lifecycle approach to IT and quality has done for you? Do you have any metrics of success, either from a business value perspective or just good old speeds-and-feeds and cost perspective?

The piece that's missing right now is the developer integration, and we just saw a lot of that this week. I'm looking forward to evolving that even more. That’s been a big deal.



Perry: Without having actual numbers in front of me, it’s hard to quantify. But let’s just say this, with Quality Center in particular, it’s helped us a lot with traceability between the business requirements and the actual testing that we are doing. I don’t know how to measure it here, but it’s been a big thing for us. The piece that's missing right now is the developer integration, and we just saw a lot of that this week. I'm looking forward to evolving that even more. That’s been a big deal.

Gardner: Perhaps if I ask you that same question a year from now, at Discover 2012, you’ll have some hard numbers in metrics, right?

Perry: Oh, I’d love to be able to go and have a presentation at one of the sessions that we’ve had such great experience with Performance Suite. I’ll be here talking a lot about it. I’d love to do that.

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At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.