To ensure change is still possible for the business, and ultimately for customers, Tom Clark runs ’90-day challenges’ to change process, communications and systems to solve a problem or seize an opportunity. It has been a culture changer, enabling people to focus on what can be done quickly in a transformational project, rather than ensuring that everything is perfect. It’s won his department awards for agile and lean, and continues to deliver improvements while a major transformational work progresses.
Chief information officer
Leeds Building Society
How are you influencing the products, customer experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
Currently under way with a full technology upgrade across the entire estate, changing the solutions for our savings customers and mortgage applicants. This change allows flexibility from the customer to choose how and when they speak to us, as well as offers the possibilities of increasing the rate of change from months to days as we change our financial products.
To ensure change is still possible for the business, and ultimately for the customers, I run a number of ’90-day challenges’ where we change process, communications and systems to solve a problem or seize an opportunity. The 90-day approach was introduced in 2015 and won us the Agile Awards for Best Use of Agile Outside of IT and Best Lean Implementation. It has continued to be used with great success in delivering improvements while the major transformational work progresses.
For internal staff, I run a personal computing programme under the banner ‘We’re listening...’, where we aim to deliver the Amazon-like experience for all personal technology. The intention is that they can order any service or kit and have it delivered friction-free and working within hours.
Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s performance
Resilience is a major focus for all financial services companies. I have been running an IT resilience and cyber programme for the last year, which consisted of 60+ individual projects to drive up our overall resilience, remove single points of failure, and address the ongoing cyber threat to protect our customers.
Multiple 90-day challenges were undertaken to deliver faster response times to our customers and reduce the need for paper-based application forms.
I introduced different solutions to the treasury and risk teams, allowing better use of information to make better risk-based systems, which in turn allow us to be more competitive while remaining compliant.
What has been your involvement with innovation at your organisation – in particular, with products, business model and technology – over the last 12 months?
We ran a dev/ops pilot for a year and saw a vast improvement in delivery times, and customer satisfaction, so we are now rolling out the model based on Spotify to all new project work. I increased the focus on risk management within the IT team, with the introduction of numerous new roles addressing risk and cyber.
I worked closely with a new vendor to become its first customer for a new front-end build technology. We worked with them during the development of the platform, and now through into delivery. This will enable rapid changes to be made going forward to mortgage processing to reflect changes in the market.
I am introducing a unified communications platform to allow multidevice voice calls, enable remote working, and introduce other collaborative tools such as video-conferencing, presence and instant messaging.
How have you delivered cultural and behavioural change as a CIO within the IT department and/or more broadly across the organisation?
I have driven the 90-day challenge approach very hard. It is a culture changer, enabling people to focus on what can be done quickly in a transformational project, rather than ensuring that everything is perfect.
My team achieved a Best Companies two-star accreditation this year, with one team achieving three stars.
Within the technology strategy is the context of ‘thinking like a vendor’, where we internally brand the IT function and operate as if we were a third party within the parent company in relation to our brand values, SLAs, business relationship management and planned delivery.
How have you worked with your CEO and/or board to communicate whatever ‘digital’ and IT means to your organisation/sector and improve digital literacy at the highest levels of the organisation?
I was part of a small working group of peers in the company this year as the IT representative, investigating the savings and mortgage markets, reviewing the needs of our customers, and defining the roadmap for our future change portfolio. This was subsequently delivered to the board and received approval.
I meet at least monthly with the CEO for discussions on digital and our strategic positioning.
How have you worked with the technology and IT vendor market to achieve your business goals? How have you been able to influence IT suppliers and successfully manage your partnerships/relationships with large IT companies, SMEs and startups?
I introduced an agile front-end to a legacy back-end system by pioneering new technology to meet our business needs.
How have you tried to develop the diversity of your team?
I already have a highly diverse team across culture, ethnicity, etc. During the year I promoted a female head of department to cover all software delivery, and I mentor two women identified from within the teams as high-potential candidates.
Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
- I have an internal software delivery function that works incredibly well, delivering business change and working agile in close proximity to the business.
- I have an enterprise architecture team who make sure all changes fit within an overall architecture.
- I run an operations function who ensure 24x7 delivery of services.
- This is all overseen by a risk and governance function, who also manage IT security.
What strategic technology deals have you made in the last year and who are your main suppliers and IT partners?
- communications and networking (VoIP changes as well as wider unified comms) – Capita/BT/Avaya
- screen build through Numero
- SAP for business intelligence
- a multitude of IT security products.
What are your key strategic aims for next year?
To increase the pace and agility of change across the company. To land two of the major transformational changes. To focus on the run-rate for technology to create funding for new technologies while keeping costs down.
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
Chief operating officer
Are you a member of the executive leadership?
Are you a member of the board of directors?
How often do you meet with your organisation’s CEO or equivalent?
At least monthly
How many people at your organisation does your function supply services to?
What percentage of your budget is operational spend (ie keeping the lights on) and how much new development (ie innovation, R&D, exploratory IT)?
70% IT operations, 10% innovation, 20% change.
Rank the following sources of advice/information in order of importance:
- Analyst houses
- CIO peers
- Industry bodies
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Are you expecting an increase in budget specific to security in order to tackle the cyber threat?
Does your organisation have a designated security professional – CISO or otherwise – and what is their relationship to you?
Yes, the head of IT security reports to one of my direct reports.
Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
How many employees are there in your IT team?
Are you increasing your headcount or planning to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next year?
- data analytics/business intelligence
- devices (desktop).
Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next one to three years?
- data analytics/business intelligence
- devices (mobile)
- devices (desktop).
What emerging technologies are you investigating or expect to have a big impact on your sector or organisation?
I run a technology roadmap review each month where we analyse the radar of new technologies and evaluate those that may support a change to our business – a key one is AI for robo advice.
Does your organisation do a significant amount of trade with the EU?
Does your department include technology staff from the EU?
Are you or have you been looking to the EU to recruit key skills?