Xprocess: Root Cause Resolution and historical views for permanent solutions

Welcome to the fourth part of Xprocess article series where we focus our attention on how you can leverage root cause resolution to implement permanent solutions to your business processes, along with how Xprocess helps you view historical data to identify trends and patterns.

As you know by now, Xprocess is our fully managed, adaptive business process monitoring platform.

To refresh your knowledge on how to create your own metrics and define key performance indicators to help you quantify the level of attainment of your business objectives and targets, click here.

To read more on how rules and alerts allow you to monitor your applications and business processes, while quickly identifying the root cause when any anomalies occur, click here.

Finally, click here for a refresher on how to create custom dashboard and view reporting.

Root Cause Analysis and Resolution Implementation

When failures in your process occur, they need to be investigated and permanent solutions implemented to avoid future similar failures. Xprocess will alert you of failures with the spanner sign in the top right corner within the process task itself:

By clicking on it you will be able to create a Resolution Report, with a description of the failure and correct resolution for it.

In case of a similar failure occurring, you can click on the Spanner icon in the main menu itself and filter on the rule that failed. This will provide you with a history of resolutions and explanation of how similar failures were corrected in the past, helping you resolve current failures quicker.

Once you’ve resolved the failure with a manual entry, the task in the Process Tasks bar will display in blue, meaning resolved.

Historical patterns analysis to identify regular points of failure

In a specific client use case, trades were coming into their portfolio management system and failing each Monday as the only day of the week.

We helped them identify what specifically was failing on the weekend and consequently, causing the service to fail each Monday morning, having to restart it. With Xprocess’ reporting functionality, we analysed the patterns of failures and helped implement a permanent solution.

Xprocess also offers the option of being notified via e-mail of any potential failures, allowing for an even quicker root cause resolution. If you’d like to solve failures in a proactive and timely fashion across your enterprise, please contact us to find out more about Xprocess. We would love to hear from you!

 

Xmon Insights – Expert service at hand for your reference data usage monitoring requirements

Xmon is the market leading go-to solution for monitoring reference data usage in real-time, optimising your spend and ensuring usage compliance. Xmon Insights, Xmon’s managed service, and the topic of this article, helps you make the most of the analytics and optimization opportunities available to you by Xmon. It gives your team access to experts in reference data pricing models and usage agreements allowing your business to make the most of our solutions and to swiftly respond to cost optimisation, analytics and usage compliance requirements efficiently and precisely.

Xmon Insights provides intra- and end-of-month benefits delivered by a team of experts, working as an extension of your market data team, to provide intra-month, ad-hoc and end of billing cycle benefits.

During the month

  • Need help with an ad-hoc data usage query or compliance report?

Our team is at hand to quickly perform data extracts and ad-hoc reports to answer your pressing requirements around usage, costs, allocations and more. We can help generate custom reports and dashboards to provide answers on your data usage, data spend or any other ad-hoc requirement for data usage analytics.

  • Do you need to estimate the cost of a data request or understand the impact of a new commercial model on budgeting?

Our team can help set up cost simulation reports, under different scenarios of your specification, for example a new pricing structure or current usage model. We will also explain how this price is calculated and any additional details your team needs to be aware of, in order to give you a complete picture allowing you to make informed decisions based on facts and backed by data.

  • Does your team need help allocating spend for internal consumers?

Xmon helps you allocate cost per internal system on an ongoing basis, even if requests originate from a single mastering application, for example an EDM system. We do this through advanced tagging functionality, giving you granularity of your consumption. Our team is at hand to help create operational workflows and tagging rules to allow a fair and granular allocation.

  • Do you need to on-board new consumers to Xmon and ensure they are correctly provisioned, monitored and controlled?

Our team will provision consumers, test connectivity and apply data entitlement and usage rule sets to your consumers depending on their requirements for data, saving you time and giving you the assurance that consumers will get the data they require, in an environment that is controlled and monitored. This important step ensures that costs remain under control, proactively avoids rogue requests and blocks cost spikes.

At the end of the month and billing cycle

  • Vendor invoice reconciliation

Our team will reconcile uploaded invoices with Xmon computed data and identify discrepancies. Any difference will be highlighted for review, ensuring vendor agreement compliance to commercial models and costs sign off, saving your team time and effort in this complicated and time consuming process.

  • Cost profile analysis and spend optimisation recommendations

At the end of the billing cycle, our expert BA team will analyse the spend evolution for a specific month at a high level and as well as in micro-detail, compare it to previous months and identify usage trends and cost optimisation opportunities. This will help your business understand the main cost drivers and optimisation opportunities available. Our team will drill down at request level and provide tailored recommendations and field-level analysis for usage, compliance and spend reduction, maximising your data agreements whilst minimising your spend.

  • Regular follow-up on recommendations

All recommendations made are tracked through the Xmon Data Ops functionality, along with timelines and quantified impact. Our team will discuss these recommendations on a monthly basis with your team to prioritise their implementation and roll out.

All Xmon Insights customers get a dedicated senior analyst assigned to the account. The analyst will get to know your business and data usage requirements and patterns providing deeper insights and tailored recommendations that fit your needs and are inline with your operating model.

Finally

If you’re looking to optimise your reference data spend and ensure compliance within your enterprise, paired with industry expert business analysis and dedicated support, we are here for you!

Click here to contact us and find out more.

Xprocess: Create custom dashboards and make use of comprehensive reporting views

 

Welcome to the third part of Xprocess article series where we focus our attention on creating custom dashboard and view reporting. As you know by now, Xprocess is our fully managed, adaptive business process monitoring platform. To refresh your knowledge on how to create your own metrics and define key performance indicators to help you quantify the level of attainment of your business objectives and targets, click here. To read more on how rules and alerts allow you to monitor your applications and business processes, while quickly identifying the root cause when any anomalies occur, click here.

The landing page of Xprocess will take you straight to your dashboards you created previously. Every dashboard will provide a top-down overview of Processes, Tasks, Alerts and Metrics from left to right.

The above example of valuation process shows it’s split into seven tasks that you can define yourself. Alert history will give you a better view of when the tasks display red or green (eg, when Asset value exceeds 5%). Alerts are generated each hour and by clicking on it you will see the Metrics related to it. In this specific Valuation example, you can see the exact asset values and the difference that triggered this alert.

The Timelines section provides an extra dimension to all of the previous information, allowing you to zoom into time zones related to Alerts, as well as history of those checks.

Reporting functionality will be available to you in the third tab on the left in the main menu. You can select the suitable timeframe. First graph will show you a graphical representation of the Metrics table on the right.

 

In a similar way, Actions table represents alerts in a graphical manner, allowing for greater transparency on the specific days and times when alerts were triggered.

All the above reports are available when the dashboard is up to date and you have the option to be notified via e-mail as well for a quicker root cause resolution. On that note, stay tuned to read our subsequent article on how you can leverage root cause resolution to implement permanent solutions to your business processes. In the meantime, if you’d like to enquire about Xprocess please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

Xprocess: Proactive alerts for real-time issue tracking

 

Welcome to the second part of Xprocess article series where we will focus our attention on setting proactive alerts. As you know by now, Xprocess is our fully managed, adaptive business process monitoring platform. To refresh your knowledge on how to create your own metrics and define key performance indicators to help you quantify the level of attainment of your business objectives and targets, read our previous article in the series.

With 24/7 monitoring of your applications and business processes, Xprocess will automatically alert you and provide quick identification of root cause when any anomalies occur, allowing you to minimize downtime and focus on delivering business value. Setting up alerts will help you monitor data quality and the data acquisition process, bringing proactive monitoring and quick resolution.

As discussed in the first article on metrics, Xprocess helps you define attributes for your systems using custom metrics, and a healthy baseline for those attributes using rules. Metrics are sent through secure protocols to Xprocess using the open source agent or via integrated proprietary applications. Once you set up the rules engine, these will trigger alerts whenever measures and tasks are failing to function as expected.

As a simple example of alert configuration for a fixed element, you can configure one for when a threshold of a certain metric is based on a static value. If that threshold is breached, for example if metrics are not sent or numbers are lower than the threshold set, an alert will be triggered.

For more complex requests, where one metric is dependent on the previous one and hence contextual, alerts can be defined in a relative, rather than absolute way.

Rules and alerts can also be configured to notify the business when an error occurs, for example when a metric with data is received without error but the data quality is incomplete, helping you monitor the quality of your data.

 

Within Xprocess you can use default alerts or create your own, which can be configured as Dashboard colour, desktop pop-up or in the form of e-mail reports. E-mail alerts can also be customized to be sent to specific teams within the business and categorised by priority and colour codes.

Stay tuned to read our next article where we show you how to create custom dashboards and comprehensive reporting views. In the meantime, if you’d like to enquire about Xprocess please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

We’re hiring! DevOps Engineer

We‘re looking for a hands-on DevOps Engineer who will lead the way for automation, continuous integration (CI), development and management of our SaaS environment. The ideal engineer will bring their experiences, best practices, and a collaborative attitude to help establish and drive our DevOps processes and initiatives.

Responsibilities

  • Contribute to the definition and realisation of a container-based system architecture
  • Define and develop a deployment automation strategy
  • Collaborate with the development and product management teams to improve automation of workflows, infrastructure, code testing and deployment across our test and production environments
  • Support our clients with technical requirements for deployment and monitoring of our hybrid and on-site components
  • Help increase system performance with a focus on high availability and scalability
  • Create tools to empower developers and testers and to industrialise development, staging and production infrastructures
  • Document processes and procedures for transparency, resiliency and improved operations

 

What we’re looking for

  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, Computer Science or similar field
  • 1-3 years professional experience in a DevOps role in a software development firm
  • Experience with Amazon Web Services (AWS), in particular EKS, ECS, Fargate, EC2
  • Demonstrable experience of architecting and deployment of at least one microservices-based .Net solution to Docker / Kubernetes, ideally a migration from a monolith. Container configuration, provisioning, orchestration and clustering
  • Experience with scripting (Windows / PowerShell), deployment automation and application monitoring
  • Experience with TeamCity, Gitlab and CI/CD processes
  • Strong knowledge of container networking concepts
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills

 

What we offer

  • A flexible and challenging work environment
  • Training and personal development framework
  • Private medical insurance

 

We’d love to hear from you, send us an email at hireme@xpansionfts.com or reach out through our contact form

Xprocess: Real-time business monitoring for data-driven decision making

 

This month we would like to shift your attention to Xprocess – our fully managed, adaptive business process monitoring platform. If you are looking to increase business resilience and transparency, then Xprocess is the perfect solution for you. It offers real-time visibility on business processes, by modelling and monitoring them proactively.

With Xprocess you can achieve the following:

  • Create your own metrics and define key performance indicators
  • Set up proactive alerts on real-time issues
  • Create custom dashboards and comprehensive reporting views
  • Leverage root cause resolution to implement permanent solutions
  • View historical data to identify trends and patterns
  • Maximize efficiency and minimize downtime
  • Integrate the platform with third party applications

In this multi-part series, we will discuss each of the above points.

Part I : Create your own metrics and define key performance indicators

XMon allows you to define various types of metrics to track the status of your business processes. Some of these metrics can be used as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help you quantify the level of attainment of your business objectives and targets.

One of our recent enhancements enables you to send monitoring metrics directly from Xmon to Xprocess. This way, you can obtain an unparalleled view of these metrics allowing you to monitor the flow of requests and data.

Xprocess supports both Static and Historical metrics, with the latter allowing you to record a time series of the measurable value. A metric can have a number of attributes associated with it to define its characteristics or features. These attributes can be of different types or formats and can be optional or mandatory.

Metric definition and custom attributes window

 

Metrics can be sent to Xprocess from an Xmon agent or from any third-party program. The Xmon agent has a configurable engine that can interface to a variety of data sources such as files (xml, log, csv, etc.), databases (MS SQL, Oracle, etc.) and processes. Regardless of where the metrics come from, they are sent to Xprocess via the REST API.

Once metrics start flowing into Xprocess, they become available for a multitude of uses such as viewing timelines, building visualisations, or creating rules and alerts. For instance, an external process can send a Heartbeat metric to Xprocess every minute. Another example is a metric set up to receive and monitor the valuation of an asset manager’s portfolio, as shown below.

 

Metric table, showing collected metric values

 

Metric value graph, showing values over time

 

Stay tuned to read our subsequent articles about the other features and functionalities of Xprocess. Our next article will explain how rules and alerts can be defined for metrics to help you monitor your processes proactively and resolve anomalies in a timely fashion. In the meantime, if you’d like to enquire about Xprocess please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

Three ways to use Xpansion’s REST API functions to improve your workflows

REST APIs are a modern application programming interface used for web service based integrations. REST APIs have become a standard in the industry for system integrations as a scalable, reliable and standardized way to programmatically access functionality and data.

Our suite of products, Xmon, Xprocess and the new Xcatalogue are API-first applications. They are built on top of a solid REST API foundation to allow for better development, testing and integration within our products. We make certain endpoints available to our clients so they can benefit from, amongst others, the following:

  1. Automated report generation and data extractions, which allow instant data extractions into third party platforms, such as Tableau or Power BI. By leveraging the tools already at your disposal and powerful analytics available in Xmon for example, you will have the ability to create reports on the fly, tailored to your needs and centralized within your own reporting frameworks and tools.
  2. Integration of Xmon analytics into proprietary or in-house developed systems. One perfect example is simulating the cost of a data request, making it easier and quicker to oversee budget spend, directly from internal applications. This will allow users to have direct access to analytics that go hand in hand with your existing data, all within the same environment.
  3. More advanced, hybrid types of integration where on site agents are deployed and communicate with the Xpansion SaaS backend. In this type of deployment, you will get to monitor requests and data calls made between internal applications which would otherwise not be possible. This type of integration is also suitable when using private leased lines. Advanced integrations using the REST API also allow for automated provisioning of rules, consumers and data sources for a fully automated DataOps workflow using our suite of products.

All endpoints are available over secure HTTPS transport with advanced permissioned access, whitelabelled access and full audit trail for traceability and accountability.

If you’d like to know more about our REST API integration and possibilities, do reach out, we’d love to hear from you! To speak to one of our experts, click here.

Xpansion has a fresh new look!

We are happy to announce the recent launch of our new and improved website designed with our client’s needs in mind.

It is full of features for a more interactive and comprehensive dive into the world of Xpansion, with a detailed description of our product suite – Xmon, Xprocess and Xcatalogue – as well as our partners. Have a look for yourself here

We’d love to hear what you think, request a demo if you’re interested in joining our rapidly growing client base!

Existing clients will also have noticed the new user interface in line with Xpansion website theme on our website, as part of our latest software release.

Your Xpansion team

Announcing the XMon DataOps Module

In June 2019, we wrote about the three pillars for establishing a Data Operations function to provide access to data in a transparent, controlled and reportable way.

XMon supports Data Operations teams and enables access to data at scale, without losing the grip on usage compliance and spend. The latest XMon release includes a dedicated DataOps module to allow for the management, granular attribution, simulation and reconciliation of data usage.

Viewing and tagging requests

Understanding which consumers are requesting data and for what purpose is a basic principle for data usage transparency. This being said, it is not an easy principle to implement. With the XMon request tagging functionality, Data Administrators can extract all data requests (both internal and external) and assign metadata attributes to these requests, manually or through automated tagging rules. This allows a granular attribution of the data request to a specific consumer (e.g. Back Office Team), a specific business process (e.g. Risk Report) or any other custom defined attribute. Tags are then used by the XMon Data Analytics engine to provide in-depth analytics and a level of detail for usage reports that is not possible to achieve with traditional methods.

Data Attribute and Security Lookup

With the XMon DataOps Attribute and Security Lookup feature, Data Administrators can lookup any security reference or data attribute (field) used within the organization. This can then be tied back to a specific consumer or business line. Operational tasks like usage reporting and pruning of expired or unnecessary securities and attributes becomes much easier, much more efficient and more transparent.

Cost simulations and compliance checks

One of the tasks of a DataOps team is to ensure that any changes to data requests do not incur unexpected cost spikes and that data requests are compliant to internal and external usage agreements. With the XMon DataOps cost simulation functionality, Data Administrators can obtain the cost of a data request by simply uploading through the XMon DataOps interface. In addition to obtaining relevant cost information, XMon will validate the request against a set of compliance and data access rules to ensure it doesn’t breach any terms.

Reconciling invoices and reporting

The XMon Invoice Reconciliation feature allows Data Administrators to validate vendor invoices by independently re-calculating and re-building data invoices. This important step provides third-party validation of invoice amounts and ensures all parties have a clear understanding of the way invoices are calculated and how data is charged.

Much more…

The XMon DataOps module centralizes data operations, increasing efficiency, ensuring compliance and reducing spend. Contact us for more information about the features available or how we can help your organization take control over reference data.

 

Feature highlight: Using XMon to track reference data calls from Microsoft Excel workbooks

Microsoft Excel is used extensively by all users in an organization. In the context of reference data, users can create spreadsheets containing data vendor formulas (e.g. Bloomberg Reference Data or Refinitiv) to download reference data and use it for custom reports, analysis and bespoke calculations.

Although extremely useful from a user perspective, downloading reference data in Excel has two pitfalls that can challenge the most hardened DataOps teams.
First, reference data is subject to usage compliance terms and controlling how data is used once it is in a spreadsheet is notoriously difficult.

Second, reference data has associated costs and providing ubiquitous access to reference data directly from a spreadsheet can cause cost spikes and uncontrolled increases in spend.

XMon addresses these challenges and helps organizations take control of reference data usage in Excel workbooks

How XMon can help

In early June, we released a new XMon feature to help organizations better manage reference data access in Excel, namely by:

  1. Automatically detecting Excel workbooks that contain reference data access formulas
  2. Allowing DataOperations teams to track which securities and associated fields are being pulled in Excel
  3. Allowing DataOperations teams to create cost and compliance rules to be notified in real-time if an Excel workbook breaches cost or compliance terms

What this looks like in XMon

DataOps analysts can upload a given workbook to XMon directly or use the XMon tracker agent to detect workbooks with vendor reference data calls. In both cases, XMon will inventory the workbooks found and list them for access. The screenshot below shows what this looks like:

Clicking on the icon displays the workbook factsheet and associated reference data cost, list of fields and list securities detected:

Using the XMon rules engine, data administrators can create compliance rules so they can be immediately notified in case of non-compliance or in case of expensive requests.

Audit and compliance reports

Reporting on reference data usage is notoriously difficult and coupling this with the requirement to understand which users are retrieving data in Excel workbooks can put a heavy load on DataOps teams trying to ensure compliance and keeping costs in check. With XMon, generating evidence backed usage reports becomes much easier, providing data analysts with the tools necessary to track costs and compliance in real-time and generating accurate and timely usage reports.

 

Reach out for more information about how XMon can help your organization understand, control and derive insights from your reference data usage.