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Deutsche Bank’s long, painful IT integration reveals some important lessons for other FinServs. 

The messy realities of tech migrations were on full display during the final phases of Deutsche Bank’s efforts to transfer customer records from one system to another. The org learned some key lessons along the way, including to expect the unexpected.  

For more than a decade, Deutsche Bank has operated two IT platforms: One for its retail banking business and another for Postbank, the German lender it acquired in 2010.  

“It was like having two banks in one: The systems generated twice the costs,” Lars Stoy, Deutsche’s head of retail banking in Germany, told the Financial Times, as part of a profile of its recent data migration.  

The team just completed the final transfer, dubbed Project Unity, after several missed targets and failed attempts. While it now expects to reap €300 million in cost savings by 2025, it originally had more ambitious goals. 

The key lessons from the long, hard integration journey are to streamline decision-making where possible, lean on existing systems that work well versus trying to build everything from scratch, and to over-prepare for key moments.  

That final point helped DB handle the unexpected: The migration almost went off the rails when steam from an errantly-opened dishwasher set off a smoke detector and forced migration teams to evacuate the building at a crucial moment. Luckily, employees had rehearsed the plan multiple times in recent months, which allowed them to make up the lost time.  

DB’s learnings from that process are especially prevalent now, as the recent consolidation (spurred from the spring’s banking crisis, and with the potential for more M&A to come) necessitates other banking giants to embark on integration journeys. You can read the full story in The Financial Times