Project Management Institute

The power of networking

Syed Shahabuddin is deputy managing director at State Bank of India, Mumbai, India

Syed Shahabuddin is deputy managing director at State Bank of India, Mumbai, India.

photo by GURU DUTT

The State Bank of India (SBI), along with its seven subsidiaries, accounts for almost one-third of India's banking. We also have various strategic business units that focus on a particular segment, but are in some way related to one another. To ensure everyone is in sync, it becomes essential to employ project management in a consistent, enterprise-wide manner.

At SBI, we have been using project management since 1984 for various initiatives, such as back-office computerization and Y2K preparedness. In 2002, the importance of project management increased dramatically when, among other IT initiatives, we launched an ambitious fast-track project to network the entire infrastructure of our group's more than 14,000 domestic branches and 70 foreign offices to a single platform. Project management has helped the organization achieve the desired results in the given timeframe, maintain cost control and increase our ROI.

The project consists of three phases:

Phase 1: The network is rolled out to 1,400 branches in 49 cities.

Phase 2: Another 3,400 branches are added.

Phase 3: The project is still in process, but so far, we've covered 10,100 branches.

We plan to network the entire organization by March 2007.

Networking the branches required innovative architecture, given the country's state of development. Appropriate hardware and software had to be identified. Before committing to any software, however, we carried out lab tests on it and benchmarked it against our expected performance level. The hardware and software was then rolled out on a limited basis for testing.

Introducing new equipment also required training for employees. On a weekly basis we reviewed project progress so corrective actions could be taken if problems arose. Any issues were resolved by the in-house team, the system integrator and the vendor.

Today the new infrastructure serves as the bank's backbone, carrying all applications, such as the IP telephone network, ATM network, Internet banking and internal e-mail. Indeed, the new network—an intranet connecting more than 10,000 points—has helped us create what we believe is the largest ATM network in South Asia. We currently have over 5,600 ATMs spread over more than 1,900 centers in India, and there are plans to install an additional 3,000 ATMs in the next 12 months. The network is so large that even our competitors are using it, which is consequently yielding handsome returns.

Project management has helped the organization achieve the desired results in the given timeframe, maintain cost control and increase our ROI.

To take advantage of the technology platform, we are reengineering our business processes by moving much of the routine activities to shared back offices, centralizing services and refocusing the branch as a marketing entity.

Although the project is still in progress and the ROI cannot be quantified at this time, we believe our primary goal—facing the competition and fulfilling the changing and growing expectations of our customers—has been met. As a bonus, the project has provided ways to use the strength of our network to our competitive advantage. PM

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

DECEMBER 2006 | PM NETWORK

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