One of the big five banks is approaching its latest IT project like house owners tackle their mortgage: small chunks over a period of time.

Scotiabank signed a deal with Datawest

Solutions Inc. Monday to use its Sanchez Profile banking and process transaction processing software. The Vancouver-based company will also perform the integration, customization and provide employee training. Selected for its mortgage functions, the application will be available in the bank’s approximately 1,000 branches and four call centres.

“”The development includes Canadianizaton of the application and development for specific requirements that Scotiabank has for their mortgage systems,”” said Darryl Yea, Datawest chairman and chief executive officer. “”Then we’ll be integrating to a number of their systems within the bank.””

The project is expected to take about 18 months to complete and is already underway. Yea said it is currently working with Scotia technical people and things are ramping up quickly. “”It goes through several phases all the way through to implementation to the branch network and training of their staff. We hope to be in pilot with it within a 12 month time frame and fully rolled out within 18 months.””

Scotiabank’s senior vice-president e-commerce and systems development Peter Sweers said this phased approach is essential to keeping the project manageable.

“”We’ve deconstructed the project down to a number of logical chunks so that each of them have their own level of project management discipline applied,”” said Sweers. “”It’s being treated as a number of smaller components which, at the end of the day, makes it easier to keep your eye on the ball.””

While Sweers wouldn’t discuss any return on investment goals, he did say what it is looking for in terms of improvements over the current system.

“”One, increasing time to market of new mortgage products. It’s driven by a product skeleton than can be configured by analysts rather than writing new code to deliver new products,”” Sweers said. “”The other one is increased ability to track inducements and fees that are given at the start of a mortgage.””

Despite the planning, there is an X factor: How long will it take to train the employees to use the Web-based system? Sweers said an analysis has yet to be done while Yea described the training period as short.

Once things are up and running, Datawest will be responsible for system maintenance while Scotiabank will house the data in one of its datacentres.


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