Bendigo Bank restructure slashes IT project failures

 

Former CIO becomes executive of change.

The Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has pinned a growing rate of successful projects on a decision to split its IT team and scrap its chief information officer role two years ago.

In early 2010, the bank’s CIO Andrew Watts became the executive of a new ‘change’ division, which included 140 technologists, such as business analysts and project managers.

Those technologists joined some 60 staff from elsewhere in the business, with the division aimed at overseeing business architecture and project delivery across “people, process and technology”.

Other technologists formed a rebranded ‘technology services’ team, led by general manager Gary Doig and charged with managing the bank’s IT operations.

According to Watts, the restructured organisation had improved its project delivery priorities and outcomes over the past two years.

While it was “too early [into the restructure] to put definitive numbers on the table”, Watts said the establishment of the change division had likely improved its rate of successful projects by 50 percent.

“The business ownership across our projects now is very, very high,” he told iTnews. “That’s one of the most important foundations to deliver success.

“In the time I’ve been with the bank, I don’t think I’ve seen a better connection between the work that we’re doing and the most important initiatives to deliver the bank’s strategies.

“Projects, I think, have been more successful than they have in the past … [and] there’s no doubt that we’re getting a much, much better track record at delivering the benefits that we set out to achieve.”

Customer information systems overhaul

At the time of the restructure, the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank was in the third year of its Linx project, which aimed to consolidate various sources of customer information to form a single, integrated view.

The Linx platform was based on Oracle Customer Hub, Siebel CRM and IBM WebSphere, and replaced a number of systems that were purpose-built for various divisions.

Watts told iTnews that the change division had been instrumental in applying Linx to the bank’s loans and deposits areas in November 2010, and in two subsequent phases in 2011.

“Thousands of staff” had been trained to use the new platform, he said.

Meanwhile, the bank was challenged to address data quality issues and establish data governance processes to ensure the relevance and accuracy of its newly consolidated information stores.

“The biggest challenge was really people … I can safely say that this platform going in place was very, very well-embraced by our staff, because it was extremely well led by our business,” Watts said.

“Our staff could really see the benefit that the platform provided in their ability to service our customers.”

Having migrated some 95 percent of customer records to Linx, the bank is now working towards bringing in records from its wealth, financial markets and insurance business units by the end of the year.

It also planned to extend the Linx platform to replace a number of bespoke legacy systems, in favour of a more customer-centred approach.

“Philosophically, what we’re trying to get to is having all of our business processes and services are built around the needs of our customers,” Watts said.

Double-teaming IT

The Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is in the early stages of a project to move its fleet of 6000 desktops and 1000 laptops off Windows XP, with only two years before Microsoft cuts support for the operating system.

Watts said Doig is leading an effort to assess a suitable replacement operating system, after which the change team will assess the compatibility of business applications and scope of work needed.

“It would effectively be a project in our change portfolio, with business stakeholders and obviously Gary’s [technology services] team having a big involvement,” Watts explained.

At present, Watts said the bank is yet to decide on the project timeframe. The project is still in the “evaluation phase”.

He said the bank is also aware of the trend towards more flexible, remote working and has spent “quite a bit of time” improving its collaboration tools.

The bank is in the early stages of evaluating bring-your-own computing, although sources told iTnews that it has ruled out thin clients, used by banking and insurance group Suncorp.

While other financial services organisations like Westpac have moved to outsource growing parts of their IT operations, Watts denied that the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s technology services team was at risk.

“We take a selective approach to outsourcing … [using outsourcers when] either we can’t provide the right level of customer experience at the right cost point, or don’t have the scale,” he said.

Although he would not rule out outsourcing its data centres or using cloud services in the long run, Watts said the bank would lean against outsourcing any customer data.

“Banks in essence are organisations that need to really be very protective of the relationship with our customers,” he said.

“When it comes to customer data, certainly we run our own customer systems internally. We take a lot of pride in doing that.”

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