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Monarch/USESI (New Jersey)
Computer Hardware and Computer Networking

Technology Infrastructure - Citizens Savings Bank

Case Study

Business Situation: 

Citizens Savings Bank (CSB), with locations in Gilman and LeGrande, Iowa, had made a strategic decision to expand into the Marshalltown, Iowa, market. The opening of this new office offered the potential to almost double the size of their business. CSB knew they would need a technology solution provider to help them navigate the maze of banking software and hardware necessary to operate such an enterprise. This was also necessitated by the high cost and difficulty of retaining personnel who possessed sufficient expertise. This situation called for an outside firm that could provide multiple people during the operation and oversee the expansion and implementation of all technology. This is where WSI stepped in

Major Goals:

  • Allow the client to operate their business without the need for a full-time, dedicated IT person on staff.
     
  • Assist the client in sorting through the myriad of vendors and vendor claims with respect to technology solutions.
     
  • Provide a cost effective one-stop source for the majority of the bank's technology needs including PC's, Windows servers, printers, web site hosting and design, support and network security.

Solution:

The first step was to complete a basic assessment of all facets of their technology. WSI evaluated their IBM RS/6000 server, Wide Area Network (WAN), bank transaction software - Vision by PCS, document imaging system, loan management - Bankers Systems & Gulf Pak, deposit and account software - Gulf Pak, as well as their general office software. WSI then assessed their PC hardware and Local Area Network (LAN) infrastructure. Once this assessment was complete, WSI provided the bank with recommendations for each of these areas. 

The bank elected to have Mark Steffen, WSI's Senior IT Consultant, assume the responsibility for communicating with all of the vendors to determine what upgrades were appropriate and necessary. CSB also decided to have Mark deal with all licensing issues and select additional vendors as needed. 

WSI provided a new Intel Based Workgroup Server to run Microsoft Small Business Server 2000 and the Gulf Pak software. The Small Business Server provides needed groupware functionality to help manage the bank's growing and more widespread personnel. Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 is used to handle complex, multi-site, multi-person meeting scheduling as well as internal email and task management. WSI also provided 15 new Intel Based PC Workstations that utilize Microsoft Windows 2000 and will serve as their users interface to the bank's entire technology infrastructure. All workstations utilize Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional, PC based printing systems from Hewlett Packard, and network switches by 3COM were also provided by WSI.

After assessing the current WAN infrastructure already in place the determination was reached that it would not handle the bank's expansion plans. Two alternatives were researched, upgrading from a 56k wire based WAN to a T1 or replacing the 56k system with a wireless network. Based on a careful assessment of recurring cost versus initial costs and discussions with other banks and co-ops that were using wireless, the bank elected to proceed with a wireless WAN solution.

WSI coordinated and facilitated communication between the bank and the company selected to provide the wireless solution. This greatly simplified the project for both the bank and the wireless company. With this relationship in place, the bank knew that its best interests would be represented and communicated. The wireless vendor had the advantage of working with a company that had experience with technology and networks.

Winning Solutions, Inc. worked with a variety of vendors as well as providing solutions, allowing the bank team to focus on the many other pressing matters related to their expansion. Solutions from many vendors were brought together to work on one LAN/WAN infrastructure.

Benefits:

When first approached by WSI about planning for this bank expansion, one of the banking software vendors stated that it would be necessary to purchase a new RS/6000 at a cost in excess of $55,000. They stated that this was necessary because the current model in use could not be upgraded. WSI took it upon itself to research this statement more closely. It was determined that the unit could indeed be upgraded at a cost less than $5,000. The previously described wireless solution saves the bank several hundred dollars each month over the costs for having a T1.

Now that the main thrust of this expansion has been completed, CSB is able to decrease its technology spending, not have to lay anyone off and know that WSI will be there when needed.

Technical Information:

Microsoft Software Used: Winning Solutions, Inc. is a Microsoft Certified company and thus used the following Microsoft software in this project. Microsoft Office Small Business Edition including Access, Word, Excel, and Outlook, Microsoft Windows 2000 SBS, Microsoft Exchange Server 2000 and Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional.

Other Products Used: Vision by PCS, Gulf Pak, and Retrospect by Dantz.

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