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Efficient IT structures that support core competencies are among the typical characteristics of high-performance businesses. That’s why Raiffeisen Bank International, supported by Accenture, defined a new IT governance framework. This set of rules aligns the IT framework with business strategy, increases its efficiency in the medium term and facilitates quick reactions to market developments.
A leading commercial and investment bank, Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI) considers Austria its home market, along with Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In the CEE zone, RBI has a closely linked network of subsidiary banks, leasing companies and specialized financial service providers across 17 markets. Currently, some 59,000 employees look after the interests of around 15 million customers at a total of 3,000 business locations.
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The bank’s rapid organic growth, combined with a series of acquisitions, gave rise to redundancies in the IT department—and these resulted in rising costs. The RBI board of management therefore decided to significantly improve IT efficiency within the network of banks.
The approach was to be based on a new IT governance framework, namely a common structure for the harmonized and standardized running of IT processes. In light of Accenture’s unique industry understanding and wealth of project experience, RBI management asked the consultancy to develop a new comprehensive IT governance framework in order to better cope with the financial crisis and emerge from it in a better market position.
Among the objectives was streamlined interaction with the 15 Eastern European subsidiary banks. In the past, execution of group projects had been hampered by disparate procedural models and priorities.
The plan was for the new set of regulations to render a detailed description of how IT decision-making processes should proceed between the business side and IT, as well as between headquarters and the subsidiaries, and to define the roles and responsibilities in this regard.
To take the needs of the 15 network banks into account during the introduction of the IT governance framework, RBI, as a first step, focused on IT topics that required joint discussion and resolution.
Initially, Accenture analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of current IT governance. The team of consultants then worked out a proposal for the future design of the IT governance. The plan included a committee structure that would strengthen cooperation between the business side and IT on all levels.
The subsidiary banks were actively involved in the project from an early stage, with the RBI project managers and Accenture consultants discussing the concept with the management board chairs of five selected subsidiary institutions. This open approach to communication not only allayed concerns, but also enabled the affected parties to recognize the added value the new structure offered. Eventually, the selected management board officers from the network banks attended the constitutive meeting along with the entire central board of management.
Once the plan had met approval from this group, a team assembled by RBI and Accenture presented it to all CEOs of the network banks. Subsequently, the Accenture consultants worked out the details of the IT framework with the departments below executive management level—which included matters such as processes and the detailed responsibilities of the committees.
With the new IT governance framework, Raiffeisen Bank International laid the foundation for achieving high performance with more efficient IT operations in just three months. All future IT projects can now be aligned with the bank’s business strategy. Harmonization, standardization and the exchange of knowledge have all been improved—both between headquarters and the subsidiaries, and between the business side and IT.
Today, the 15 subsidiary banks are involved in the decision-making process at an early stage, consider future concepts and react accordingly. Newly launched group projects, for example, can be more rapidly implemented, initially focusing on the countries with the most promising local benefits. Thus, the IT framework also makes an important contribution to the design of the RBI portfolio.
Herbert Stepic, CEO of Raiffeisen Bank International, says “the new IT governance framework increases the IT efficiency of the banking group, while still considering the local market requirements in terms of flexibility and closeness to the customer.”
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