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the project, ‘we constantly pushed for more capable people from SAP, as you rarely get the “A Team” the first time you ask’, he added.

With the new cutover date in place, the implementation process initiated once again, this time with each of ATB’s employees taking part in the ‘hands-on-deck approach’, said Stange.

‘Every single person in the company was involved in some sort of communication, testing, training, dress rehearsal and so on.’

Executives were delegated as leads for change management, training and project management.

On the technical side, the project was broken down into functional streams with a responsible team in charge of each module. ‘There were many teams and many leads.’

• Change management and user training

There were classroom training and e-learning courses, as well as ‘leader-lead’ and independent training through a Learn Management System that ATB used.

Overall, there was 76,000 hours of training for the staff, said Stange.

When the training sessions began, ATB had ‘a third of staff who were very keen and hungry to learn, a third were a little hesitant and tentative, and a third just did not want to learn the new system because they knew the old one inside out’.

ATB took a pragmatic approach to recognise what the hesitancy was and then dealt with it in a supportive manner, he added.

‘We made training competitive, hosted fun contests and had high expectations of our users to complete milestones by a certain date, which was then built into their performance planners.’

‘For us, communication with our employees was paramount throughout the project,’ said Stange.

‘Our business model is founded on having an employee who is comfortable, productive and satisfied in the workforce because we believe that is the only way you can deliver a great customer experience.’

• Getting ready for the cutover

Mock scenarios were set up and ‘aggressive’ integrated testing took place prior to the switchover so ATB ‘was ready to operate the system with confidence’, said Stange.

‘We wanted to make sure that data could move through the system and eventually land in our GL.’

As part of the dress rehearsal process, ATB also established a command centre to deal with severity issues in practice. Remediation teams were set up with around 100 back- office staff.

‘We had a good process to identify and triage any defects. Our staff would take a call from a user with an issue, and that issue would then be passed through the remediation team and be solved efficiently.’


The conversion date was again missed, this time by six months, and ATB went live with the SAP for Banking suite in September 2011.

‘We delayed for all the right reasons: we just were not ready,’ Stange said.

‘We were putting a great deal of effort into monitoring, measuring and practicing data migration. We needed to delay a little longer to make sure our data was converting effectively, not erroneously.’

The system went live in all 170+ branches with a ‘big-bang’ migration. It was a 24-day implementation from the time ATB stopped all processes and turned the systems off and got them all back up and running again.

‘The fact that we did a big-bang approach with that many applications, with 750,000 customers and 5,000 employees

Core Banking Systems Case Studies: North America 11

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