IT: What's keeping the NAB busy

Leadership skills, project delivery on NAB IT agenda

The National Australia Bank's information technology (IT) operation is targeting leadership skills and enhanced project delivery as crucial elements of its turnaround program, according to a senior company executive.

Branko Panich, the NAB's general manager of technology strategy and transformation, told ZDNet Australia such initiatives included a review of the bank's use of project delivery software and an evaluation of the leadership skills and capabilities of senior members of its IT arm.

The NAB is in the midst of an AU$1.8 billion turnaround program - heavily underpinned by IT -- to revitalise the troubled institution.

The evaluation program sees the top three layers of "people leaders" in NAB Technology receive assessments from all they work closely with.

"The 360 degree feedback process is currently underway and the individual results and overall NAB technology result will be available early in the second quarter of this year," Panich said. "After the feedback process there will be a focus on aligning individual development plans and the overall people strategy to address development opportunities".

The hoped-for outcome of the program is, Panich said, to "identify current leadership competencies of our senior people leaders, assess their current competencies against expected behaviours and offer senior people leaders opportunities to develop their skills".

The general manager also revealed the bank was looking to boost its use of software tools across the institution to help deliver IT projects effectively.

"We are generally talking about external software," he said. "There are instances where we may not have deployed the latest version even though we are licensed to -- therefore we are missing out on available functionality.

"In other cases we may not be using tools consistently across all parts of the organisation -- thus providing opportunities to improve performance by sharing best practice more effectively".

Panich added the NAB was progressively building out its Australia-wide enterprise architecture based on business priority rather than any sort of "purist" or theoretically driven agenda. It replaces the institution's previous silo-specific architecture.

He cited an example of a business project whereby the institution needed to build a single customer view capability for a particular segment.

"We worked with that project to build a ... solution which met the immediate business requirements while being architected in a way that was consistent with our longer term technology strategic direction and broader organisational requirements".

Panich said design work for the installation of Windows XP as its standard desktop operating system has been completed, with pilots underway at a handful of branches and some corporate locations with selected users. The XP deployment -- expected to affect around 30,000 staff and be completed by the first quarter next year -- will replace a mix of Microsoft operating systems and complement a desktop hardware replacement project.