Customer Success Story

Building a Foundation for Collaboration and Prioritizing IT Investment at First Abu Dhabi Bank


Banking, Finance, and Insurance


Abu Dhabi, UAE



Key Results:

  • Created an actionable, shared overview of IT’s landscape supporting the business
  • Identified opportunities to reduce the application landscape by 25%
  • Implemented a customized, automated approach to project prioritization within LeanIX

The Challenge

First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) is the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and one of the largest banks globally. It was formed following a merger between First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi. The bank offers a full range of financial services, from retail banking to investment banking and global corporate finance across 20 countries.

Following the merger, FAB was looking for opportunities to optimize its IT landscape. To be able to do that, it started a deep dive into the capabilities of the existing applications.  

As is often the case, the merger resulted in duplication across the application portfolio. However, without actionable insight into the business context, rationalization proved challenging. Missing business context for IT investment also made it difficult to define a target architecture to support FAB’s business strategy.
“We couldn’t easily look at a business process such as customer onboarding and say which systems were involved and whether they were fit for purpose or required investment to enhance the customer experience," Santiago Vazquez Freitas, FAB's VP and Head of Enterprise Architecture, explained.


The Solution

FAB’s Enterprise Architecture team sought to consolidate all data related to business capabilities and the IT landscape in a way that enabled FAB to make more informed decisions. This involved establishing a single source of truth, accessible to all relevant stakeholders, to record and maintain business capabilities, application, and infrastructure architecture data.

FAB partnered with a leading consulting firm to define the current and target landscape. These efforts resulted in a 400+ slide deck that contained all the necessary information but was not particularly helpful when it came to aligning stakeholders and pursuing meaningful discussions about what to do next. The team realized they needed to maintain and share this critical data in a different way.

"We wanted to democratize access to our target state architecture. Anyone with a business need should be able to access this data in a self-service way. To ensure the reliability of data, we wanted it to be owned and maintained by application owners, rather than by a centralized team. Creating this basic sense of trust in the data was critical to our efforts. Finally, we wanted a tool that served as a communication platform with the rest of the company, not simply a tool for the EA team,” Santiago explained.

To find an Enterprise Architecture (EA) tool capable of capturing and maintaining EA data in a manageable and reliable way, FAB began evaluating the leading EA solutions according to three basic principles: (1) The solution had to be easy to use, (2) it had to simplify the complexity of the IT landscape, and (3) it had to support collaboration.
“We chose LeanIX based on its ability to visualize our business and IT landscape in a simple, straightforward way. We also appreciated that we could configure the tool without having to rely on LeanIX or third-party services,” Santiago said.

“The user-friendly interface along with the transparent license and support models as a SaaS product were key for our decision. Finally, LeanIX agreed to host the tool in the UAE, which they had not done before. This was key for FAB.”

Santiago Vazquez Freitas,
SVP and Head of Enterprise Architecture, First Abu Dhabi Bank

Santiago Vazquez Freitas

Implementing LeanIX EA

FAB implemented the basic elements of the LeanIX Meta Model, using the Application, Business Capability, Organization, and IT Component Fact Sheets to map their architecture. They customized Fact Sheet attributes to capture all the information the bank required. To get data into LeanIX, FAB used the tool’s bulk import functionality.

To ensure data quality and proper data governance, the EA team called on application owners to verify and certify information in LeanIX. Inspired by DevOps practices, FAB stipulated that application owners would own the data related to their applications in the EA tool. Distributing ownership in this way helps keep data up to date and prevents FAB’s EA team from becoming a data bottleneck.

To further maintain data quality and governance, FAB relied on LeanIX’s built-in Quality Seal automation functionality. In response to specific triggers, the automation will break the Quality Seal of an Application Fact Sheet and alert the application owner to recertify the data. Finally, to support seamless access to the tool, FAB enabled the platform’s SSO capability. Integrating LeanIX into FAB’s Active Directory allowed for centralized access management.

To provide relevant views of the architecture for the bank as a whole as well as for specific lines of business, the EA team configured a range of reports, dashboards, and diagrams. This gave stakeholders and the executive leadership team access to a holistic view of the bank’s IT – including the current and future state of the application landscape – in a business context.

As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos once said, “Good intentions never work; you need good mechanisms to make anything happen.” For FAB, it wasn’t enough simply to adopt a new EA Management tool and import the right data. The team focused on integrating the tool into the bank’s existing EA processes. This ensured that data would be continuously updated and that the tool would serve as a consistently reliable resource for the entire organization.

Case Study

First Abu Dhabi Bank

Learn how the company built a foundation for collaboration and IT investment prioritization

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Building on LeanIX's Automation Capabilities

Automation can improve efficiency, standardization, consistency, accuracy, and compliance. LeanIX allows users to configure Webhooks in order to capture events, such as a change to a Fact Sheet, in near real time. LeanIX also provides APIs allowing integration and automated interaction with other applications.

Leveraging Webhooks and LeanIX’s APIs, FAB developed a set of use cases that effectively extended the tool’s out-of-the-box capabilities. These use cases included detection and masking of PII and other sensitive data, mapping business capabilities to projects, and creating custom notifications based on tags.

These automations have helped FAB govern their architecture data while maintaining compliance around data privacy, controlling changes to data, and creating data consistency across Business Capability, Application and Project Fact Sheets.

Project Prioritization: A Unique and Powerful Use Case

As mentioned above, the bank also wanted to make consistent, informed decisions about future technology investments. Developing and implementing a process for prioritizing technology initiatives was key to achieving this goal.

To that end, FAB created a framework that considered the following factors: the target state for application(s) involved; the project’s alignment with business and IT goals; the business criticality of the application(s), and all associated risk (e.g., application stability and obsolescence).

FAB added fields for scoring each of these factors to the Project Fact Sheet and configured a mathematical logic to calculate scores, publishing the results in a new field using LeanIX APIs.

“We now prioritize projects in a data-driven way,” Santiago said. “So, if we are looking at projects to modernize our middleware or build an open API platform we can manage prioritization using LeanIX.”

“We no longer have to spend weeks and months identifying which applications support which lines of business, their future state and the investment required to get there; we now know this in a self-service manner."

Srinivasan Sampath,
Group Chief Information Officer, First Abu Dhabi Bank

Srinivasan Sampath

The Success

The success of the EA program is ongoing, but there are some highlights worth noting.

Achieving clear visibility into the bank’s enterprise architecture has been a major success. Linking applications and projects to business capabilities allows the organization to have more informed conversations about technology investments.

“For example, if you work in consumer banking, you now have a view showing all the systems related to consumer banking. But it goes beyond that. You can see the business capabilities these systems support as well as how they relate to the bank’s target state. In other words, you have visibility into how current projects will impact specific applications and the broader business. This was never possible before.”

Increasing and democratizing landscape data has also enabled FAB to identify the opportunity to reduce its application landscape by 11% in raw numbers. However, when you look at decommissioning and consolidation, the bank has seen closer to a 25% reduction opportunity in the landscape.

Finally, on the investment front, the automated process for project prioritization has ensured confident, data-informed investment decisions.

Srinivasan Sampath, FAB’s Group Chief Information Officer, summarizes the success so far as follows: "We no longer have to spend weeks and months identifying which applications support which lines of business, their future state and the investment required to get there; we now know this in a self-service manner. The intuitive user experience from LeanIX enables me to extract the information I require to make informed decisions. This became a reference guide for all future technology investments."

Case Study

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