At Burgan Bank Kuwait and Jordan Kuwait Bank, the projects have both reached the implementation stage. ‘We have completed the gap analysis, signed off the gaps, agreed on the implementation costs with ICSFS and we have an implementation plan on the table which has been accepted,’ says Jensen. Cutover at Jordan Kuwait Bank is set for September 2013, and National Day in Kuwait (25th February 2014) for Burgan Bank.
Ernst and Young has been brought in by Burgan Bank Kuwait as the implementation partner. However, Jensen says there have been some challenges with regards to personnel. ‘We had a little bit of an issue with the three parties working well together,’ he says. He also adds that one of the challenges of the project has been to win over the bank’s long-standing users, who are accustomed to the old system. ‘They want it to look the same and smell the same, so getting them out of that frame of mind takes some work.’
The ICS BANKS system will cover a range of functionality for corporate, retail and private banking at Burgan Bank Kuwait. This includes a credit facility, loans, transfers, trade finance, BI, internet banking, SMS and mobile banking. Jensen outlines the training and testing approach the bank will use, although he adds that this is not necessarily a universal method for the other subsidiaries implementing ICS Banks. Training started in mid-March 2013, with 50+ ‘super users’ undergoing three weeks of training with both the vendor and the bank.
On the testing side, the bank has brought in a new QA testing team, including two new full-time members of staff, who will carry out the testing of the system. This QA team will verify that the unit and integration testing is performed prior to UAT, and will ensure that documentation is available. The team will also remain onsite after the implementation of ICS BANKS to support the bank going forward.
Burgan Bank Group has opted to de-centralise the ICS BANKS implementation, mainly due to the challenges regarding the differing levels of regulation in each country. Jensen cites difficulties in Algeria for instance, whereby the central bank does not permit Algerian data to be sent abroad. Likewise in Tunisia, although there is an exception if a Tunisian national is handling the data. ‘We do have some serious regulatory constraints,’ admits Jensen. Iraq has proved more straightforward, with the data for Bank of Baghdad running out of Amman.
These challenges, and the differing nature of the institutions within the group, have made it difficult to develop a blueprint for the implementation projects, with these being done on an ‘ad-hoc’ basis. ‘The subsidiaries are at different maturity levels, so work needs to be done to bring everyone up to the same baseline level,’ says Jensen.
As mentioned earlier, Burgan Bank Turkey is another potential site for ICS BANKS. ‘It acquired a packaged solution [Inter-next from local vendor Intertech], and has maintained and bought the source code for itself,’ he says. ‘I would imagine that sometime in the future, it will be looking at ICS BANKS and if it can satisfy their needs, it will move to it.’ Jensen adds that Algeria Gulf Bank is also likely to look at ICS. ‘They do need a new system, but I think they are in a wait-and-see situation to see how it goes with the rest of us,’ he says. ‘My feeling is they will come here, take a look and hopefully they will also go with ICS BANKS.’
Once the core system roll-outs have been completed, Jensen says there are other projects which Burgan Bank will look to take on. One is to implement a new card switch service, which Jensen describes as ‘a very costly application to maintain and replace’, and the other is for a new treasury system, which the bank will discuss in the coming months.
The lack of a robust organisational group structure is something which Jensen also thinks Burgan Bank Group will address in the near future. The prospect of new acquisitions, of which Jensen expects there to be two by the end of the year, places further emphasis on the need for this. ‘With the absence of a group organisational structure and mandate, you can only take it so far,’ he says. One of the acquisitions is imminent. Jensen describes this institution as ‘not a traditional retail or corporate bank, so whether ICS BANKS fits there remains to be seen’. No name is forthcoming, but this is believed to be Malta-based trade finance bank, FIMBank, which also has a presence across Egypt and the UAE. In Q1 2012, Burgan Bank and United Gulf Bank reached an agreement with Massaleh Investments to acquire 39 per cent of FIMBank’s shareholding. FIMBank is a long-standing user of the Flexcube core system from Oracle FSS and the Kastle Factoring solution from 3i Infotech.