Nationwide transforms its online banking with IBM

Project Aurora builds a completely new banking experience

Published on 09-Dec-2011

Validated on 03 Mar 2014

"The fact that we achieved every single one of the anchor milestones is a great testament to the quality of the approach, the quality of the people, and the behaviours exhibited by those people." - James Smith, Head of Group Programmes, Nationwide

Customer:
Nationwide

Industry:
Banking

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Overview

Nationwide was the first organisation to offer online banking in the UK, but recognised that significant new investment was needed to keep up with the competition. The success of its competitors’ online offerings meant that there was a widening competitive cost-gap for the Society. Essentially, competitors were more successfully moving low-value transactions to the web, freeing up their branches for higher-value mediated or regulated transactions and sales.

Business need:
Faced with increasing competition in the internet banking sector, Nationwide needed to renovate its online banking system so that it could deliver a better experience to its members and put itself back at the forefront of internet banking.

Solution:
Working with IBM, Nationwide launched the Aurora programme to deliver its next-generation internet bank. The IBM team took on full project management responsibility for Aurora, using a hybrid accelerated development methodology to ensure a successful transformation within the constraints of a fixed-price, multiple-subcontractor agreement.

Benefits:
A more powerful and intuitive online banking experience for members. Visualisation tools help members to compare income against expenditure and track account balances. Project completed within eight weeks of planned timeframe, despite more than 15,000 man-days of business-critical change.

Case Study

Keeping up with the competition
Nationwide was the first organisation to offer online banking in the UK, but recognised that significant new investment was needed to keep up with the competition. The success of its competitors’ online offerings meant that there was a widening competitive cost-gap for the Society. Essentially, competitors were more successfully moving low-value transactions to the web, freeing up their branches for higher-value mediated or regulated transactions and sales.

In parallel with these external pressures to renovate its online banking service, Nationwide faced internal pressure to ensure that it could launch new products and services more rapidly, driven by the ongoing renovation of its core banking systems and general ledger capabilities.

Recognising that the internet channel would be the future battleground for retail banking, and that the existing system was neither flexible nor scalable, Nationwide launched the Aurora programme to deliver its next-generation internet bank.

Richard Searle, Head of Channel Integration at Nationwide, comments: “As a mutual, we focus on creating a lifetime-value relationship for our members, rewarding most those who give us the greatest commitment. We wanted to increase cross-holdings and deepen our relationship with members, and we knew that investing in the internet channel would be a highly efficient way to achieve those aims. Our strategic goal is to be the UK’s leading financial services provider, and it was clear that we needed to put ourselves back at the forefront of internet banking.”

A member-centric approach
The goal of Aurora was to create an internet banking experience that would better reflect members’ needs, providing a clean and simple interface without compromising on powerful functionality. Nationwide contracted IBM to take on full project management responsibility for Aurora, under the constraints of a fixed-price, multiple-subcontractor agreement. The IBM team was required to provide project leadership, governance and innovation, to ensure that the solution would not only meet immediate needs, but would also embed the technical capabilities to support the Society’s future growth.

To kickstart Aurora, IBM set up an eight-week programme of workshops based on its Accelerated User eXperience Visioning (AUXV) methodology. The team involved existing and prospective Nationwide members right from the start, taking ideas generated in the AUXV workshops in the US, mocking them up overnight using IBM technical resources in Asia, and presenting them to focus groups in the UK. This provided extremely rapid feedback and ensured that all development was geared very closely to members’ needs. This approach - putting the members front and centre - continued throughout the full 18-month Aurora project.

To fit with Nationwide’s existing practices while also enabling greater speed and agility, IBM created a hybrid accelerated development methodology that blends features of waterfall and agile. This enabled early testing to prove the framework and reduce project risk, ensuring shorter development cycles and ‘early wins’ that helped maintain momentum. Most importantly, the iterative development approach provided more opportunities to feed in outputs from customer engagement exercises.

A key stage at the end of the project was the creation of a pilot portal for all employees - the largest pilot in Nationwide’s history. This stage provided unprecedented insight into how people really use internet banking, and enabled the fine-tuning of sign-on, messaging and navigation. It also helped build strong advocacy for Aurora among branch staff, who are now promoting the new service to their customers with genuine enthusiasm and pride.

Managing the process
Although many of the project roles were fulfilled by Nationwide employees or by other external partners, IBM took on full project management responsibility for making Aurora happen on time and within budget. IBM showed its commitment to delivering on this promise by agreeing to the fixed-price contract. This approach was a first for Nationwide, and required all parties to talk very openly throughout the project about commercially sensitive topics.

“There was a lot of valuable knowledge transfer from IBM to us in areas such as managing dependencies and making sure that the right documentation is in place,” says Richard Searle. “Equally, IBM was uniquely able to bring in exactly the specialist resources needed to quickly answer questions and pose challenges. What was especially valuable was the ability to look at things like: what will be the prevalent web security model in three to five years? What will future browsers be capable of, and how will user interface design evolve?”

A resounding success
Aurora is now live for all registered users of internet banking at Nationwide. The new internet bank integrates with 31 line-of-business applications and has had a significant impact on every part of Nationwide.

The new internet bank provides a clean, modern interface with a number of innovative features, including:

A calendar view of transactions, enabling members to see income and outgoings over time
Intuitive visualisation tools, enabling members to create graphs to compare income against expenditure and track account balances
Easy sorting and filtering of statements
Quick and easy processes for setting up payments, with full step-by-step guide
Quick links to popular transactions
Improved help and support facilities
Natural-language search capabilities, enabling members to use plain English
‘Next Best Action’: prompting members with likely next steps based on recent actions.

Aurora is considered to be one of the most successful projects ever undertaken at Nationwide, and the Society’s key transformation function is adapting the lessons learned for use in other projects. Richard Searle says, “We successfully delivered an 18-month project to completely renew our internet bank just eight weeks later than planned. This is a phenomenal achievement when you consider that we incorporated 15,000 man-days of business-critical change during the programme. Employees and members alike are delighted with the results so far. The project has been a major success in every way.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Service:
GBS Strategy and Change: Technology Strategy

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