Lloyds payments chief: “Ideas without money are just ideas”

IT initiatives needs business buy-in otherwise "ideas without money are just ideas", according to Lloyds Banking Group’s head of payments design.

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IT initiatives needs business buy-in otherwise "ideas without money are just ideas", according to Lloyds Banking Group’s head of payments design.

Sailesh Panchal was speaking at the Open Group’s Business Transformation Conference in London this week, where he explained that breaking out of enterprise architecture structures to drive transformation during the acquisition of HBOS was essential.

He said that it was fundamental that the IT department understood the needs of the business and positioned itself centrally in delivering the changes, otherwise true transformation across a number of services wouldn’t have been possible.

“The number one thing that you need to do is earn the trust of your business and own their portfolio. That is what we do – we own the portfolio,” said Panchal.

“IT must have a full and complete stake in that portfolio development – everything from estimations, to assessing the risk of the systems to what needs need to be upgraded, to where the new investment should be.”

“If you don’t have that level of trust, I don’t believe organisation-level transformation is possible. The only way that IT can demonstrate relevance is to understand the business, in terms of their funding and costing. In the middle of all that you need to create new models of operation.”

Panchal said that describing innovation as the latest technology or gadget isn’t accurate. He believes true innovation is when you change an organisation and get an organisation to think differently to drive change.

Panchal went on to say that he believes enterprise architecture is great for when things are operating business as usual, but not when you need a major overhaul.

He said: “You have to give yourself the freedom to break that model, because if you can’t break that model, you can’t transform the organisation. It’s that simple.”

Lloyds merges with HBOS and IT is given just 20 days

Back in 2008, shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Lloyds announced its intention to takeover HBOS. Panchal explained how at the time he, and a team of 20 other technology experts at the bank, were given just 20 days to come up with an initial plan, a date, and a price to merge two of the UK’s largest banks.

He believes that business buy-in was critical to getting this right.

“We had to work out a plan and an architecture that would work. Some 58 million accounts were moved in one night, all of which went through with zero errors in reconciliations. We did 11 dry runs and set up many parallel environments in preparation,” said Panchal.

Following the 20 day initial assessment, the team spent 12 to 18 months preparing a detailed IT plan with the business in preparation for the merger. 

Panchal and his team also had to ensure that payments – which consists of faster payments, BACS, international payments, clearing – for all the customers on the HBOS estate were successful migrated onto Lloyds’ platforms.

“IT said for the first time: we can transform the organisation. This kind of activity changed our business model, because it forced the business to think IT is capable of these things,” he said.

“Before that no one in the bank thought you could make a change to more than one scheme at a time, let alone three or four over a couple of weekends.”

He added: “But we did it through planning, execution and new governance models. Enterprise architecture plays its role, in terms of having a repository where we know how it was going to be managed through the process.

“But in a genuinely transformational project you actually need to change your organisation, and the organisation itself needs to have the confidence to change.”