Westpac extends project management system

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Westpac extends project management system

Enters Phase Two, examines SaaS.

Westpac has entered phase two of a bank-wide portfolio and project management system rollout, adding 5,000 users and evaluating whether to license it as an on-demand service.

The system, based on CA's Clarity product, is already used by 100 people in Westpac's group programme management office (PMO) and by staff located in divisional PMOs.

Phase one of the rollout, which started shortly after Westpac's merger with St George, centred on bedding down portfolio management, scenario analysis and related capabilities.

The bank was "working fairly quickly towards" addressing phase two of the rollout, which involved the implementation of "core project management modules."

"We have about 5,000 people we will roll out to in phase two," Westpac's head of the group program management office Russell Nelms said.

"We host CA ourselves but we're looking at an option in phase two to go to software-as-a-service. The ability to scale up [the software] as required is attractive. We'll make the decision in phase two about whether we go SaaS or [continue to] host Clarity ourselves."

A third phase is planned to "enhance the maturity" of the system. This will include integrating the system with the bank's human resources and general ledger systems.

Westpac has already put in place a governance framework around the internal project approval process.

"Prior to the rollout of this framework there were many varied ways of getting projects approved," said Ray Wall, a senior manager within the group PMO.

There was a traffic light system, he said, but each business unit applied its own interpretation to the colours.

"With the merger with St George, consistency needed to be put in place," Wall said.

"The governance framework was the first piece of that. We put it in place 18 months ago."

Nelms added: "The merger with St George was the catalyst to our journey. We're now 18 months in and hitting our targets."

Clarity for project management

The Clarity system is used to track and report on approved and unapproved ideas and projects across the banking group.

All planned projects have to be fed through Westpac's group PMO and detailed in a series of documents that essentially define the business case, then break the project into "logical chunks" that are then ready to be funded.

Divisional PMOs are able to approve project investments under $10 million. Above that and the project is brought before a monthly project integration committee for approval and - eventually - funding.

There are between 400 and 450 active projects listed in the system, Wall said. The projects could be anything from a technology upgrade to the opening of a new retail bank branch.

There are technology benefits for the Clarity project. It will enable Westpac to, among other things, decommission a number of other portfolio and project management (PPM) systems scattered throughout the bank's divisions.

St George merger

Nelms said the Westpac and St George had "rationalised the systems that we need to" as part of the merger.

All employees had been brought onto a single HR platform and the email systems had also been integrated, he said.

But it wasn't just about moving to the "big bank's systems," he said.

"There's the potential to move Westpac employees over to St George's systems," Nelms said, where they were superior or simpler than Westpac's.

Clarity was an example. St George has been using Clarity software since 2005.

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