Westpac tightens finances, reporting in wake of merger

Project set to automate manual tasks

Westpac will push ahead with core changes to its mammoth transformation project set to slash reporting times and balance financial control following its merger with St George.

The project and portfolio review began at St George in 2005 and is designed to deliver a “single source of truth” in project and financial reporting. The two banks merged in December last year.

Westpac head of delivery management Russell Nelms said the project is entering into core transformational changes that is set to reduce manual reporting times.

“It will kill lot of the manual tasks like data reporting in spreadsheets... we will get our investment reviews down from 2 weeks to a day,” Nelms said.

“The business case took six months which is a long time, but it is the right way to do it to get executive buy-in from the top.”

“The project isn't about ROI, it's about productivity and managing complexity.”

The project will also better align investments with business strategies and give clearer portfolio analysis reports to top management.

The current phase two deployment will introduce reporting automation by division rather than as a blanket implementation across the organisation. Phase three will tighten remaining project management criteria like workflow and resource management through a series of parallel pilots to minimise disruption.

Each business unit has a dedicated project management officer, while a general project manager was nominated to report IT investment delivery to chief transformational officer Brad Cooper.

The workstream steering and project integration committee is responsible for driving projects and “overall” approvals and report to the CEO and CFO for approval. Final approval is decided by a CEO investment board.

All reporting must be made over a standard format determined and enforced by an investment review committee.

Initial problems with project configuration and specification were ironed-out by June last year, according to St George project head David Vasey, and demand and portfolio management will soon be completed.

Cheat sheets have been created to assist staff with using the CA Clarity project management tool, and project managers have been sent off to training “boot camps”, according to Vasey.

More than 200 staff regularly attend the periodic project training workshops, which have trained about 700 users.

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