ME Bank moves down agile path

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ME Bank moves down agile path

Tied to business process rework.

Members Equity Bank is using agile methodologies to rework business processes and improve applications under a $57 million transformation program.

Chief information officer Kathryn Hawkins told iTnews the bank was taking its adoption of agile and continuous improvement "very seriously" as it worked towards a complete overhaul of its core banking and ancillary systems.

Although the adoption of agile is intertwined with the business process management overhaul, the bank is already casting the agile net wider.

"We're probably turning around 2-3 week iterations on the actual process development, but we've also transitioned [agile] over into our change program and we have been working our mobile app on weekly iterations," Hawkins said.

ME Bank is far from being alone in its adoption of agile methodologies. Other high-profile finance users include NAB, CBA, Bankwest, Suncorp and Allianz.

The bank this week achieved another milestone in its multi-year transformation, making public a capability that allows customers to open an everyday transaction account online, and without intervention by banking staff.

"The 'straight-through' transaction process verifies customers' identities online and at the end of the process provides them with an account number, BSB, internet banking login and dispatches a transaction card to arrive within days," it said in a statement.

The capability represents the first use of a new business process management engine by vendor Pegasystems that has been bedded down over the past couple of months.

The capability does not yet take advantage of ME Bank's forthcoming Temenos T24 core banking platform, using instead a mix of new and existing technology elements to function.

Once T24 is live — anticipated to be in the first quarter of calendar year 2014 — the automated account opening capability will be transitioned to operate on the new core, rather than legacy systems.

Processes for deposit and loan products are expected to be mapped into the new business process management (BPM) engine sometime next year.

Hawkins said that most existing processes at the bank were manual. Where possible, ME Bank wants to automate processes and free staff to focus on customers' needs.

In translating existing processes into the BPM engine, Hawkins said the bank was most concerned about its future-state requirements.

"We're probably avoiding the whole, 'What are our as-is requirements?' and focusing on what our future requirements are," she said.

"Technology-wise, we're not replicating anything or working through those difficult, typical program issues where you always tend to try to replicate what you've got.

"Everything here is about the future. It's about how do we be unique and different and how do we leverage this technology to not do [what] we've done before."

Hawkins sees the transaction account capability as a "high value" item for the bank. She said ME Bank reviewed its transformation schedule about six months ago "to see if we could bring any high value [items] forward".

Other high value items that were expedited include analytics and reporting capabilities.

"We were always looking at high value items as part of our original strategy," Hawkins said. "But what we do constantly though is re-assess that schedule to make sure we're delivering the components in the right sequence."

The bank is currently on schedule with the transformation program, she said.

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