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Commerce Bank Employs an Enterprisewide Solution to Track Application Changes

Craig Danielson — Photography by Austin Walsh Studio


Customer: Commerce Bank
Headquarters: Kansas City, Mo.
Business: Banking
Challenge: Tracking application code and hardware changes
Solution: Used ISPW to create a traceable and visual change-management environment to improve customer service
Hardware: An IBM System z10 Business Class server
Software: A variety of packaged banking applications and the ISPW change-management solution

Change is inevitable—especially in IT departments, where new applications, lines of code and pieces of hardware are put into place every day. Overall, it’s good; it indicates that organizations are amping up the services they offer.

However, keeping up with change can be daunting and seemingly endless. Spreadsheets are, in many cases, used as change-management tools, with developers updating them with their latest application alterations, for example. But this is a poor substitute for truly understanding what’s changed and the potential effects of those changes.

Given the increasing regulatory- and auditing-compliance requirements, this isn’t a trivial issue. In the banking industry, outside agencies are putting everything under a microscope—from the boardroom to the data center. That, in part, drove Commerce Bank to deploy ISPW’s change-management system. It realized that while change is good, having a better handle on it is just as important.


Community First

Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., Commerce Bank was established in 1865. It has a presence in five states—Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma and Colorado—with more than 200 branch locations and 400 ATMs. Among the 50 largest banks in the U.S., it offers banking services to commercial and private customers, such as savings and checking accounts, traditional mortgages, and debit and credit cards.

The bank’s many honors are a testament to its community-first philosophy (see “Top Honors,”). “That’s why our branch locations are so essential,” says Craig Danielson, Commerce Bank’s IT quality assurance manager. “People still like to be able to walk into a bank and talk with someone, and when they call and ask for a bank employee, they know they’re going to be connected with a knowledgeable representative. Commerce’s customer promise is: We ask, listen and solve. It’s that kind of experience—the small things—that makes our customers feel special.”

“I would think every organization needs a way to manage its infrastructure in order to maximize application availability. Otherwise, your technicians may be managing more problems than new features and functionality.”
—Craig Danielson, IT quality assurance manager, Commerce Bank

Behind the scenes, the company strives to offer add-on services that further enhance its reputation, such as sophisticated online banking. Supporting those initiatives is an IBM System z10* Business Class mainframe, which hosts a litany of applications. The organization also has an off-site mainframe for disaster recovery. Several IBM Power Systems* servers complement its mainframe processing, as well as an extensive Microsoft* Windows* environment.

Although Commerce Bank is relatively small compared to the large Wall Street banks, it makes an effort to keep up with the latest industry technologies. Danielson calls the company a fast follower. “We don’t adopt new technologies as soon as they’re introduced. We prefer other companies do the beta testing for us and then deploy when we feel the time is right,” he explains.

With that philosophy in mind, the developers are always hard at work writing new code or enhancing existing code. Systems administrators also roll out new hardware, as needed, often in support of the bank’s varied lines of business.


Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at

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