The Finance Integration Team and Group Technology Finance teams of Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) are the joint winners of the Finance Team of the Year Award.
The judges felt that both teams deserved recognition for their ‘joint achievement’. The Group Technology Finance team (GTF) ‘tackled a difficult task with great success’, while the Finance Integration Team’s (FIT) overall achievement was ‘stunning’, despite tough competition from other shortlisted candidates.
Prior to the takeover of NatWest by RBS, NatWest IT Finance had five IT finance departments. The challenge was to implement these into the Group Technology Finance model, while dealing with the various logistical and cultural problems incurred from dealing with locations in Edinburgh and London.
The integration process was a long and exhaustive task, culminating in a conversion weekend in October 2002 where 14 million customer records and £158bn were successfully migrated to the new systems. GTF played a key role to ensure the IT integration programme delivered benefits and controlled costs to plan.
RBS set out key elements to the overall scheme; changes made to the finance team had to have no negative effect on delivery of reporting and advice, while financial systems and processes had to be created to support the IT integration and benefits tracking. The combined RBS IT organisation at 2002 year-end in revenue and capital cost terms was £1.1m with a headcount of 3,903.
Meanwhile, NatWest IT banking and accounting systems had to be migrated onto the Royal Bank IT platform. FIT was formed from the finance systems experts in RBS and NatWest, and was charged with the task of preparing these systems. However this was just the start.
Prior to integration, the team delivered ‘crucial’ milestones, such as ensuring usual reporting processes were maintained and NatWest payroll and accounts payable migrated to RBS ledgers. It also swapped auditing responsibilities from PwC to Deloitte, changed year-end from 30 September to 31 December and upscaled financial systems while retraining more than 1,000 staff.
The reconciliation solution took two years to plan, with a mere two days to execute. After one year the system’s first trial was abandoned. Undaunted, FIT improved its procedures to achieve ‘100% accuracy’, from which the integration weekend was a huge success. More than 200 FIT staff worked a total of 5,000 additional days during the trials and integration.
Following the system’s implementation, Fred Goodwin, RBS group chief executive, said: ‘We have now completed an entire monthly cycle of operations on the enlarged IT platform. Systems performance has been excellent, and the IT integration can now be declared complete, and a success’.
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