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How Citigroup Measures Up

How Citigroup Measures Up

CIOs are always seeking better ways to track IT projects and resources as a way to align with the business side. Here's how Citigroup's Mystic system, an internal performance monitoring and asset management portal, is doing just that.

READER ROI

  • How performance data can improve project management
  • The change management challenges of rolling out a performance monitoring tool
  • How a portal can help IT communicate value to the business side

From his office in the Citigroup building in downtown Manhattan, Thomas Sanzone has a sweeping view of the Hudson River. From his desk, he has an equally encompassing view of his IT department through Mystic, an internal performance monitoring and asset management Web portal used by all the IT staffers at Citigroup's Global Corporate and Investment Banking (GCIB) group along with their business partners. Sanzone, the CIO of Citigroup GCIB (one of five major business divisions within the Citigroup empire), can use Mystic to check the status of all IT projects under way and get a view of those that are on time and within budget - and those that are not.

Everyone in the Citigroup GCIB IT department - from the CIO to the newest developer - has access to Mystic (which stands for My Systems and Technology Information Centre). Project sponsors from the business side can also access the portal to check the status of their projects. The system presents a comprehensive, multifaceted view of all IT projects, tracking them by project owner, delivery date, budget and numerous other metrics. Since its initial rollout, there has been an across-the-board 15 percent improvement in on-time delivery, while the project load has increased by nearly 50 percent. Mystic, though, is more than a performance monitoring and portfolio management system. It has also enabled better use of IT assets, consistent enforcement of IT governance policies and improved communication of the value of IT services to the business side of GCIB. In fact, Sanzone says, better articulation of the performance and capabilities of the IT group to the business customers and senior management of Citigroup was one of his key goals in developing the Mystic system.

Why Citigroup Needed Mystic

After a flurry of major mergers and acquisitions that began in 1998, Sanzone needed to improve Citigroup's ability to monitor performance of IT projects, communicate processes and standards, track projects and manage assets. Following the mergers and acquisitions, his IT department for Citigroup's GCIB was a global organization of 6000 with an annual budget of more than $US1 billion. "When all those organizations were brought together, we didn't have consistent productivity control methods. We didn't have consistent processes or high-level use of standards," he says. It was at that point that Sanzone and his executive colleagues realized the need to develop a system such as Mystic.

Rolling out such a visible, enterprise-wide method of monitoring performance represented a major cultural shift for Citigroup and generated a certain degree of anxiety. "If you go to a public performance scheme, that's not for the light-hearted," says Sanzone, who declines to say how much Citigroup spent building Mystic. "Any time you implement change of this magnitude, there's always a level of resistance." To help mute opposition, he encouraged continuous communication and allowed employees to air their concerns and suggest refinements to the metrics that reflect the appropriate levels of complexity of certain projects and situations (see "Monitor, Manage and Mitigate", right). It also helped that Mystic was launched as a pilot before it was fully deployed, Sanzone says.

"People would naturally be hesitant to be so publicly measured," says Howard Rubin, executive vice president of Meta Group, "but their products are publicly visible, so this should be business as usual in IT." After approximately six months of development, Sanzone and his colleagues deployed the first incarnation of Mystic in June 2001, and they have been refining it periodically during the past two and a half years. Citigroup GCIB IT staff log in to Mystic every day through a link on the GCIB Central home page, so everyone sees the status of all projects in process. Read on to learn about the most important facets of Mystic in action.

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