Suncorp unveils $275m 'simplification' program

Ry Crozier | May 29, 2012 1:30 PM
Modernises systems following Building Blocks program.

Suncorp has embarked on a $275 million "simplification" program that will see it modernise IT systems and cut costs associated with legacy infrastructure.

The program is expected to deliver annual benefits in the region of $200 million from the 2016 financial year, group CEO Patrick Snowball told investors today (pdf).

"I've always said that Suncorp is a range of products sold under a range of brands to middle Australia and middle New Zealand," Snowball said.

"Nothing is all that complicated. We sell simple products ... [and] run simply in Australia and New Zealand, where we all live".

The new program builds on Suncorp's earlier 'Building Blocks' program that aimed to remove duplicate systems and upgrade management information systems by 2013, while also delivering substantial savings.

Suncorp aimed to simplify its banking platform from the current 15 legacy systems "on ageing platforms" that required specialist maintenance skills and did not "talk to each other".

Banking platform simplification is broken into three stages. The first stage includes the already-complete Oracle customer relationship management system implementation revealed in last June, and the implementation of a trade finance system this June.

The next stage is about upgrading or replacing "various platforms to deliver a complete system from origination to fulfilment". Stage three will see legacy systems decommissioned and data archived.

Suncorp hopes to end up with a banking platform that is "capable of scalability without additional investment", as well as "more intuitive systems" for staff and customers.

Also part of the simplification program is a rationalisation of policy applications in the general insurance area from the current 14 pieces of software to two.

The existing environment came with "significant 'lights on' technology and business costs", Suncorp said, due to complexity and duplication across the group.

Suncorp's business services CEO Jeff Smith told investors that the legacy simplification would see the rationalisation of "back and front end".

In general insurance, he said, Suncorp aims to introduce self-service for "claims, lodging and management", to lower its costs and also make it easier for people to access these functions on the internet.

He talked up the bank's virtual desktop strategy and its broader aims to introduce "flexible working environments", potentially enabling some rationalisation of real estate assets.

Smith also foreshadowed changes to procurement, including a move away from manual request for proposals (RFPs) and the use of "purchase cards" to encourage internal staff to buy against a list of certified suppliers.