In a Management Strategies feature story last November, Wayne R. Weidner, chief executive of National Penn Bank, said the Boyertown, Pa.- based institution was gearing up to reengineer the back office, beginning with its first platform automation system.

To help meet that goal, National Penn recently hired Ronald E. Boyce, the first executive at the bank to hold the title of chief information officer.

Larry Jilk, chairman of the bank holding company, National Penn Bancshares, said Mr. Boyce - who had been CIO at Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Bancshares before it was acquired by Meridian Bancorp - is charged with overseeing the installation of the platform automation system, which has been budgeted at $5 million over five years. Later technology initiatives will include bankwide electronic mail and the deployment of imaging systems.

"In the past we concentrated on completely avoiding risk" when it came to technology, said Mr. Jilk. Now the bank is willing to "accept a little more operations risk in exchange for reduced overhead."

The bank's efficiency ratio, which stood at a lean 48.26% in 1991, has risen to 58%. National Penn wants to reduce that number to 50%.

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