Client Successes

Cedar has been assisting clients across geographies and industries in the areas of strategy, process, strategic human capital and business technology. These successes are illustrated through a series of clickable case studies where we have made strategy work for our clients.

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» Insurance Major System Upgrade Project Management Office (PMO)

Our client is the leading Insurance solutions provider in the Middle East with assets over USD1.3 Billion and 15 branches. It embarked on a technology transformation program in 2012 with a view to replace its core insurance applications and implement an enterprise wide Financial System. This program had witnessed a series of challenges at the program management level with frequent changes leading to significant delays and lack of direction on the program.

Cedar proposed a dedicated onsite Program Manager to execute the program within planned scope, budget and timeline. On award of the mandate, Cedar program managed the transformation program for over a year successfully establishing best practices in program management and delivered as per timelines. Various modules that formed a part of this program included:

  • Consumer business
  • Commercial business
  • Reinsurance business
  • Medical business
  • B2B portal
  • Enterprise wide Financial system

It was critical for Cedar to ensure a quick stabilization of the program management office to effectively get the program back on track. The results included:

  • Dedicated onsite program manager managing all aspects of the program including timelines, activities, multiple vendor management, recruitment, stakeholder management, team management and program financials.
  • Streamlined the program management office with standardized processes and outputs that were handed over to the client program management office on completion of the engagement and which continues to be used by the client in its programs

» Bank M&A Integration Success - II

Our client is a leading commercial bank in the UAE with assets worth AED 179 Bn & 350k customers; having a strong presence through 43 branches & 180 ATMs in the UAE. It had acquired the retail & SME banking business of UAE of a leading UK based multinational bank adding ~235k customers to its portfolio through this acquisition. The corporate banking portfolio was retained by the selling bank, hence they needed 90 days to separate the retail portfolio and have the ownership transferred across. Apart from the complexities involved in an M&A integration, this one had an additional element of separation which had to be managed smoothly without any customer service interruption. Having assisted the client in also conducting a due-diligence of the acquired retail banking portfolio prior to making the final bid, Cedar was invited by the bank to help manage the complex integration.

Cedar leveraged its deep heritage in the Balanced Scorecard – the world’s leading strategy deployment and performance management system & had adopted an integration framework across the areas of finance, customer, process, organization & IT to drive the following:

  • Developed Integration framework across Workstreams – Integration PMO, Integration planning and coordination across Finance, Customer, Product, Credit, Process, Channels, Infrastructure, Organization (HR) & IT
  • Identified key integration objectives for each module using scorecard framework and WorkStream plans covering activities, tasks, timelines, milestones, teams & deliverables
  • Overall migration planned in 4 waves – Legal Day 1 (Separation of retail portfolio), Channel Integration, Liabilities Integration & Cards Integration
  • 55+ applications affected in the integration – replaced, upgraded or consolidated including migration of data from an outsourced cards platform managed by a Greece based vendor to a UAE based cards processing vendor
  • Specialist resources assigned with internal teams with periodic updates to project working committee & steering committee governance forums
  • Designed a customer communication plan across 5 products, and oversee the execution including the target audience, content, channel, frequency.
  • Assessed overall synergies across all workstreams & identified potential opportunities for revenue enhancement & cost savings
  • Developed an end-state operating model for effective utilization of the acquired shared service unit & centralization of all key back-office processes

Cedar’s structured methodology ensured successful & timely integration. The results included:

  • Bank’s Credit Card Portfolio was amongst top-3 in UAE post the integration, may have potentially taken the Bank 4 times as much time to grow organically
  • 30% increase in number of wealth customers, driving bank to a leadership position
  • Smooth integration of over 5,000 employees - ~20% increase in headcount
  • Seamless migration experience for customers across 2 branches, 51 ATM/CDMs, Internet & Mobile banking channel, and Call center
  • Cedar made the integration strategy work!

» Islamic Bank M&A Integration Success

Our client is a leading Islamic Bank in the UAE with 600,000 customers; having a strong presence through 80 branches & 600 ATMs in the UAE. It had acquired the retail banking business of UAE of a leading global UK based multinational bank adding ~110,000 customers to its portfolio through this acquisition. This was the first time an Islamic Bank had acquired a conventional portfolio in the region and the complexities involved in conversion & integration of cards & financing portfolio were not to be ignored. Having assisted the client across multiple other initiatives over the previous 8 years, Cedar was invited by the bank to help manage the complex and comprehensive integration between the two banks.

Cedar leveraged its deep heritage in the Balanced Scorecard – the world’s leading strategy deployment and performance management system & had adopted an integration framework across the areas of finance, customer, process, organization & IT to drive the following:

  • Developed Integration framework across Workstreams – Integration PMO, Integration planning and coordination across Customer, Product, Process, Channels & IT, with additional oversight on HR and Credit Workstreams.
  • Identified key integration objectives for each module using scorecard framework and WorkStream plans covering activities, tasks, timelines, milestones, teams & deliverables for initial state (Legal Day 1) and end state migration.
  • Cedar also ran an Integration PMO overseeing all Workstreams with focus on the Migration plan drawn for Liabilities, Assets, NPL, Customer static data migration, Channels, Finance and Facilities.
  • Specialist resources assigned with internal teams with periodic updates to project working committee & steering committee governance forums
  • Designed a customer communication plan, and oversee the execution including the target audience, content, channel, frequency.
  • Active management of migration of offshore unit to train and induct outsourced unit across to-be processes and technology platform to render services across call center, operations and collections

Cedar’s structured methodology ensured successful & timely integration. The results included:

  • Fast-track migration - completed over a period of 6 months, with a 2 wave migration: first for static data, followed by financial transaction data and covered cards.
  • Over 430 employees including outsourced team integrated as a bank-within-a-bank
  • Quick migration of over 100,000 customers with less than 1% customer attrition through integration phase
  • Smooth migration experience for customers across 2 branches, 30 ATM/CDMs, Internet & Mobile banking channel, and Call center
  • Cedar made the integration strategy work !

» Private Wealth Management Client Balanced Scorecard Success

Our client is a leading full service investment bank offering a wide range of financial services and wealth management solutions to institutions, corporations, high–net worth individuals and families. The client has rapidly expanded its footprint to over 350 locations across India with international presence in Hong Kong, Dubai & London. Our client was constantly losing market share (rising competition from international players) and also profitability. It had significant dependence on a few investment avenues (Eg. Mutual Funds), which had low income potential and at the same time it was also losing clients to other organizations. Our client was also keen to institutionalize key processes / procedures and needed to increase emphasis on RM productivity (another issue of RM Attrition to competition) & integration of IT systems. Cedar was brought in to address these growing challenges.

Cedar conducted a detailed diagnostic of its client’s current performance from a Financial, Customer/Product, and Process, Organization & IT perspective to arrive at key issues, coupled with one on one discussions with the key members of the management to identify and validate key pain points. As a part of the exercise Cedar also assessed the market opportunity and analysed competition. The identified issues/challenges, market opportunity and the senior managements vision for the business was translated into the ~20 strategic objectives for the client which were laid out in a strategy map. These objectives were supported with measures / key performance indicators. The Balanced Scorecard design was completed with identifying the owners for the objectives and the frequency of reporting for the measures. Cedar also assisted in defining formulae for the measures. A list of strategic projects / initiatives (eg. New pricing structure, new PMS proposition, re-branding, improved welcome kit, Training Programs for RMs, CRM Implementation among others) were also identified as a part of the above exercise.

It was critical for Cedar to ensure the benefits came quickly due to increasing competition, decreasing market share and profitability. The results included:

  • Our client has been ranked four times in a row as the #1 Private Bank 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012
  • Improvement in market share and profitability
  • Enhanced and improved portfolio of products (both manufactured and 3rd party) for better coverage and higher fees potential
  • Reduction in attrition at RM level
  • Implementation of best in class CRM system
  • Cedar made strategy work !

» Core Banking Selection Success

Our client is one of the largest banking groups in Lebanon with assets of ~US$ 14 Billion. It has a significant regional presence with 93 branches spread across 11 entities in Lebanon, Cyprus, Iraq, Switzerland, KSA and UAE, employing ~ 2,200 employees. To maintain and grow on its leadership position, bank wanted to review its existing application architecture and replace its suite of existing applications that do not address emerging requirements. Cedar developed Business aligned IT Strategy for the bank, which identified need to replace core banking, treasury, trade finance, wealth management, CRM, internet & mobile banking & Islamic banking modules. Bank requested Cedar to help in selecting best-fit vendor, which was conducted over a 6 month period.

Cedar used its proprietary C-SCORE methodology to evaluate world-class solutions to determine the best-fit vendor. The following were key activities performed by Cedar:

  • Developed a best-in-class Business Requirement Specification (BRS) document covering ~ 12,000 functional, technical & vendor related requirements across 17 areas.
  • Shortlisted 4 global vendors from a long-list of 78 vendors, and circulated a comprehensive Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Detailed evaluation of shortlisted vendors across all functional, technical & vendor areas, and identified gaps across solutions
  • Review statement of work, customization effort & implementation terms to drive an apple-to-apple comparison of the commercial submissions.
  • Recommended the best-fit vendor based on the functional, technical & vendor parameters, contractual & commercial negotiations and reference site visit feedback

Given the breadth of the solutions to be replaced, it was critical for Cedar to ensure that the finalized vendor met all key expectations of the Bank management. The results included:

  • Review & finalization of 400 contractual terms identified across 3 shortlisted vendors
  • Clear scoping of over ~300 customizations required to meet bank’s requirement
  • Finalized the implementation plan and the statement of work with selected vendor
  • Fast-track selection of Universal Banking system that met with key requirements of Bank

» Core Banking PMO Success

Our client is one of the top five banks in Lebanon, headquartered in Beirut. Originally established in 1944, its market share has grown to comprise of around 10% of the total Lebanese Banking System. Through 61 branches spread over Lebanon with one in Cyprus, our client offers a wide range of products and quality services to both individuals & corporations. It’s private bank in Switzerland, is engaged in asset management and advisory banking services, through its offices in Geneva. The bank firmly believes investment in innovation is critical so that the needs of a more demanding global and mobile client base are met. Cedar has been at the forefront of this endeavor with the bank, assisting them in formulating IT strategies and implementing the selected core banking solution with PMO services

  • Decentralized, Centralized and Hybrid variations of the PMO suggested with the Hybrid variant adopted for the bank
  • Principles adopted in formalizing the PMO organization structure were the Reporting Structure, Organization Fitment, Reporting Line, Constitution, Control and Flexibility
  • Governance framework setup included 2 tiers viz. the steering committee & the working committee
  • Cedar’s offering was targeted to help bank achieve a level 4 on the PMO Maturity level

Setting up of the PMO resulted in the below stated benefits:

  • Setup of the Business Technology Relationship Management (BTRM) department was facilitated along with the PMO
  • Monitoring and control of the Bank’s key technology initiatives through one department
  • Vendor management for core done through the PMO, allowing for better accountability and control

» Post-Merger IT Integration Client Success

Our client is one of the UAE’s leading Bank with revenue of ~190 million $ in 2014. The client recently acquired the operations of a leading French Bank in Egypt and had planned a Post-Merger IT Integration resulting in the installation of the group applications across the newly acquired entity. The IT Integration was completed in a period of 2 years with 35 applications rolled out in a big bang approach across the 63 branches 201 ATM’s affecting 1575 employees and ~300k customers. In order to achieve this massive integration within this short period Cedar, having more than 12 years of relationship with the bank was approached to help the Bank in achieving this challenge.

    Cedar used the ‘C-Score’ Framework, which is developed by Cedar for managing the various IT initiatives undertaken by an Entity. The framework involves

  • Update the Senior Management Team regularly on the Time, Cost, Quality and Resource impacts
  • Provide the business team inputs through the vast knowledge base gathered over the various implementations performed
  • Provide the technical team support in hardware selection, supervision on deliverables and co-ordination on technical initiatives
  • Validation of vendor team deliverables, co-ordination for the support and act as a liaison for resolution of conflicts and issues

It was critical for Cedar to ensure the benefits were seen immediately after the Go-Live. The results included:

  • Smooth Day 1 operations within branches with minimal customer impact and continued results for Week 1 and Week 2
  • Over 1300+ employees trained, oriented & inducted into the organization
  • Healthy daily transaction volumes were seen across all systems showing healthy end user adaptation to the new systems implemented
  • Termed as “The most successful integration" by the COO & CEO of the Egypt entity
  • Cedar made strategy work!

» Core Banking Implementation Success | Turkey

Our client is a bank in Turkey with assets of ~US$ 1.7 Billion, 32 branches. As part of the transformation process, it was looking to replace its old core & internet banking system with a state of art system, to help align with its strategic direction. Banking regulations in Turkey are complex, strict and unique in nature; as a result, all banks either use in-house developed core banking applications or solutions from local vendors. All earlier implementation in banks in Turkey from global core banking solution providers have either been aborted or cancelled, and never been successfully completed. The bank had requested Cedar for program management assistance for implementing Finacle Core Banking and Veribranch Internet Banking solutions, which it had earlier assisted in selecting as well.

    Cedar used its proprietary C-SCORE methodology to conduct program management of the entire implementation over 35 months. The following were key solutions provided by Cedar:

  • Developing and implementing the project charter including governance structure, roles & responsibilities, project schedule, entry & exit criteria, and communication framework
  • Closely monitoring of progress across 8 rounds of testing – including pre-UAT, SIT, UAT and performance testing, business simulation, 3 rounds of training and successful go-live.
  • Structured communication across key stakeholders, Core banking and Internet banking vendors and with more than 20 surround system vendors
  • Facilitating monthly Steering Committee meetings chaired by the CEO. Periodic update to Board on program progress, and drive necessary corrective actions for timely execution.

With this assistance from Cedar, the bank became the first bank in Turkey to successfully implement a globally renowned comprehensive core banking solution. Till date it is still the only bank to have successfully implemented a global core banking solution. Other benefits included:

  • Strict adherence to managing expectations: minimize Change Request (CR), alignment to market requirements and completion of program execution within 35 months.
  • Business benefits post implementation include: Scalability of platform - 50% increase in customer base 6 months post go-live, ability to launch new products.
  • Awarded by the Asian Banker as the Best IT Consultancy project of the year.

» Islamic Bank M&A Integration Success

Our client is an Islamic subsidiary of one of the largest banking groups in UAE. The group acquired a competing Islamic bank in 2011 & subsequently decided to merge the two Islamic entities under its umbrella. The integration of banks involved harmonizing products, services, processes, support functions, compliance norms and technology and infrastructure: covering 30+ applications, 50+ ATM/CDMs, ~150K cards, 22 branches, back office and data centers. Having assisted the group with multiple initiatives, including large post-merger integration over the previous 12 years, Cedar was invited to help the bank manage the complex integration, leveraging its integration expertise.

    The engagement was structured in two phases, Phase 1 – Strategy & Planning focused on:

  • Current state assessment, mapping & gap analysis for portfolio of products, services, technology (applications and infrastructure), segmentation and processes across operations, risk, accounting & compliance
  • Finalizing change roadmap, create detailed implementation plan and budget
  • Established program governance, define program charter, and define key project metrics

Phase 2 – Program management of technology integration, was driven by Cedar’s proven C-Score methodology for technology transformations.

  • Cedar ran Integration PMO overseeing activities across all 7 work-streams with focus on system enhancements, process improvements and seamless migration of data.
  • Cedar ensured strict governance, delay tracking, and ensured periodic risk reporting, mitigation and escalation based on escalation matrix
  • Continuous monitoring of resource requirements across various departments
  • Robust change management supported with detailed checklists for each activity
  • Specific initiatives such as - dedicated help desk & field support team, branch and roll-out champions, extended simulation, closed user groups for immediate issue reporting & resolution were key to achieve smooth go-live and quick system adoption

Cedar’s structured methodology ensured successful & timely integration. Below are some of the key features that make this project remarkable

  • Integration achieved within budget & in record time – 6 months!
  • Over 1300+ employees trained, oriented & inducted into the organization
  • Successful migration of 22 branches, ~50 ATM/CDMs, and all e-channels
  • Market dominance: growth in customers by 150K, 35% growth in assets & 80% in credit cards, resulted in increased footprint (became 3rd largest Islamic bank in country)
  • Projected 24% decline in operating expenses for the merged bank, owing to synergies
  • Cedar made the integration strategy work!

» Customer Service Strategy | Banking

Our client is one of the leading regional Islamic Bank in UAE, with assets worth ~$40 Bn & 90+ branches. The bank wanted to enhance & significantly improve the effectiveness of its customer experience. Specifically, the client wanted to assess its existing customer experiences and develop a best-in-class customer service strategy. To achieve this, the bank wanted to review and realign its existing customer segments, respective segment specific offerings, customer interaction channels and their usage, key customer facing and internal processes as well as organization and automation

    Cedar had assisted the bank in design & implementation of a best-in-class customer service strategy across 5 workstreams – customer segmentation, interaction management, customer service processes, customer service organization & technology. Outlined below are the key activities which were undertaken:

  • Customer Segmentation: The value proposition was realigned across 4 retail segments (including product bundling, pricing & value added benefits). A new pre-affluent feeder segment was introduced based on customer value balance.
  • Campaign Management: Cedar had also designed the x-sell strategy & campaign management framework (including 2 predictive x-sell models to drive higher product penetration across segments)
  • Interaction Management: The services offered across digital channels were realigned to drive innovation & enhanced customer experience. Cedar also assisted in design of campaigns & initiatives to drive higher penetration across alternate channels
  • Customer Service Processes: The customer service processes were realigned to drive paperless branches & ensure all customer requests were fulfilled within 0, 1, 2 or 3 days based on complexity
  • Organization: The customer service organization structure was realigned to drive customer centric culture across the organization
  • Technology: The technology roadmap was realigned & new initiatives were identified to drive innovation, customer service effectiveness & better operational efficiency

Cedar had overseen the execution of 45 initiatives identified across 15 recommendations areas over a period of 6 months; key benefits included:

  • New generation branch experience driven through innovative technology & operationalization of paperless branches
  • Best-in-class service delivery driven through effective customer journey maps
  • 40% improvement in operational efficiencies; 10 Million+ Savings in Branch Costs
  • Instant Bank Account & Credit Card Product Launch reducing 5-7 days TAT to “Zero? Days, 50-60% improvement in TAT for key customer facing processes
  • Introduction of segment based & demographic based packages
  • 2x increase in internet banking penetration through effective activation campaigns

» CRM Strategy | Insurance

Our client is the largest insurer in UAE with over 15 branches, assets over USD 1.3 Bn. and a large portfolio of Life and non-life products. The organization had business lines independently structured, without appropriate information capture, under-leveraged channels limiting their capability to improve customer service. It also affected their sales and cross-sell capability. The management recognised the need for increasing customer focus, developing a CRM culture, and drive sales & service levels. Having helped the client with various strategic initiatives in the past, Cedar was invited formulate a strategy for CRM & develop a CRM implementation roadmap.

    Leveraging its thought leadership and CRM expertise, Cedar assisted the client in formulating a CRM strategy and roadmap via -

  • Current state assessment of existing organization, processes, pain-points & aspirations
  • Identified key CRM themes aligned to their strategic objectives
  • Prioritization of key CRM themes to drive future initiatives
  • Study & re-model CRM processes aligned to identified themes and develop customer journey maps to drive adoption of CRM culture
  • Identified list of initiatives, across the 4 CRM themes, and processes & prioritized these initiatives to develop a 3 year road-map
  • Captured detailed requirements across sales, operations, underwriting & BUs aligned to strategic CRM objectives and themes
  • Evaluation of CRM platforms and recommendation of CRM best-fit solution

Cedar’s structured methodology helped the insurer in finalizing strategy & key initiatives for this strategic transforming. The results included:

  • Identification & prioritization of organization wide CRM focused themes, which will be central to all CRM initiatives for the organization
  • Detailed road-map for transforming to a CRM focused organization
  • Finalization of CRM functional & technical architecture
  • Finalized a best-fit CRM solution & identified key partners for implementation
  • Identified opportunities to automate customer centric processes and improve customer experience and improve operational efficiency
  • Opportunities for improving sales and cross-sell, by establishing key CRM driven processes & enabling the front-end users to leverage customer journey maps


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