When the Madrid-based bank BBVA announced in 2011 that it would replace the legacy core banking systems of its U.S.-based banking operation, BBVA Compass (Birmingham, Ala.) with Accenture's Alnova Financial Solutions, it identified several ambitious goals: achieve real-time processing capabilities, improve time to market, and respond more quickly to customer needs and expectations. Just shy of two years later, BBVA not only has accomplished those goals, it already is starting to realize the benefits of this $362 million project.
BBVA and Accenture announced this week that the new core banking infrastructure is running BBVA Compass' checking and savings deposit platform across the bank's 716 branches, with consumer and business lending coming soon. The new infrastructure also will be integrated with BBVA Compass' brand and ATM networks, call centers and online and mobile banking services.
[Once banks decide to modernize their core systems, what's the best approach to successfully completing the project? Check out BS&T's digital issue, The Core Systems Dilemma.]
"This is a very complex program," notes Sergio Fidalgo, CIO BBVA Compass. "Our main goal was to deploy the deposit system in 2012, which we already have done. Now the checking accounts, savings accounts, CD accounts for our 716 branches are connected to the core banking system." Perhaps even more important than the actual roll-out, Fidalgo adds, is that this has been accomplished without disruption of customer services, which was one of the obvious risks of such a large-scale implementation.
"We have been receiving good feedback from customers," Fidalgo reports. Among the factors that have helped BBVA Compass avoid service disruptions has been the close involvement of the bank's senior management, including its chief executive Manolo Sanchez, who also is BBVA country manager. Along with strong management oversight, there was "very rigorous testing," Fidalgo says. "We had to modify the system to make it U.S. compliant, those modifications were thoroughly tested." BBVA uses Alnova in nine other countries.
Another success factor, according to Fidalgo, was the bank's decision to implement a staggered roll-out over the course of five months, starting with one branch this past April and then expanding state-by-state. Texas was the last state to go live on the system, which took place September 10.
External communications with customer and internal communications with employees about the changes the new system would bring also were critical, he says. "This is a huge change for our employees in how they work every day," he notes. "And we had to communicate with our customers how the way we process their accounts will be changing."