The former CIO of this mid-size western Canadian bank knows he's got to live up to his title-major initiatives-because heaven knows he's got one on his hands. Casey's in charge of swapping out ATB Financial's core banking system, a move which touches each part of the firm, and do it so the bank doesn't skip a beat. That's sort of like changing the engine while the car's moving.
Which is why so many banks choose to get by on three decades' worth of accumulated legacy systems instead of scrapping the lot and upgrading. Operationally speaking, false moves under the hood could have very debilitating consequences. To his credit, Casey can't think of any other projects that his team is working on right now. That speaks to focus. "What we're doing will change the way the business works; change the way IT works," he says. "Decisions will be made differently." So even with the world financial system in chaos, Casey's keeping his pace, just as he does on his long-distance rides as a cyclist in the wild countryside outside Edmonton. "We're doing our best to be contained. Banks are doing a lot of soul-searching these days," he says. When problems come up, he's looking to see how solutions can come from the new SAP stack.
Yes, the SAP stack. The German software giant, not exactly a force in American financial circles, is getting the full treatment at ATB: the bank is choosing its latest full-core banking system to install in a project which may top $100 million. Though well-versed in tech, Casey came up through branch management and retail; he's not a computer scientist. Casey has stewarded this project through for years already. He's done so in a way that perfectly captures the changing role of tech players within contemporary institutions-as an executive steeped in forging alliances inside and outside the company, gaining and (more importantly) holding the attention and backing of top management, and deploying software tools as business weapons. And, as it turns out, seeing a big job through from start to finish and making adjustments along the way. "If those problems come up and there is not an answer in the SAP stack, we look for a solution that can be integrated strongly. You get into governance and risk control and treasury operations and funds-transfer pricing. A lot of this stuff wasn't initially part of this project, but it's becoming [so]."
ATB and SAP signed contracts last spring, with Accenture as integrator. Since then Casey has taken a large internal team and re-traced and re-examined thoroughly the project in another feasibility analysis. They did so to get the home team versed in what's happening, to calibrate budgets (contingencies are built in at plus 10 percent; they were at 25) and make sure the SAP tweaks are understood; SAP's financial software needs to be calibrated for North America, which is why this is a big deal for the German vendor as well. "We're much deeper in the decisions," Casey says of the ATB team. "We own the decisions now." And the innovation.