​Latitude Financial Services in post-GE tech makeover

​Latitude Financial Services in post-GE tech makeover

Adopts a ‘cloud first’ strategy starting with Workday implementation

Latitude Financial Services CIO, Julie Bale: Workday implementation for 2,200 staff was completed in 9 months

Latitude Financial Services CIO, Julie Bale: Workday implementation for 2,200 staff was completed in 9 months

Latitude Financial Services is adopting a cloud-first strategy, starting with a company-wide deployment of Workday, nine months after its separation from GE’s global organisation.

The consumer finance company’s new owners Varde Partners, KKR and Deutsche Bank, purchased GE’s Australian consumer finance business, GE Money, last November.

GE had a ‘no cloud’ policy and core systems – such as a HR and finance – were provided to GE Money (now Latitude Financial Services) by the global organisation in the United States.

Latitude is currently going through a “transitional services agreement” with GE, which will continue to offer services for up to 18 months. Once these services are switched off, new IT infrastructure needs to be in place, Julie Bale, CIO at Latitude Financial Services told CIO Australia.

“As part of our separation, we’ve had to stand up certain systems from scratch,” Bale said.

The Workday implementation is the first step in a technology transformation at the organisation, which will also include replacing legacy core platforms for collections, cards receivables, servicing, and personal loans. RFPs are out in the market at the moment for new technology to service these areas.

Under its new ‘cloud-first’ strategy, Latitude rolled out Workday HCM, recruiting, expenses and payroll for its 2,200 staff across Australia and New Zealand. The deployment has enabled the organisation to retire 11 legacy systems. Next month, the company will rollout Workday’s core financials, procurement, projects and time tracking modules.

Bale said the company is taking a cloud first stance where it makes sense and where it aligns to Latitude’s risk appetite. Cloud delivery models will improve efficiency and reduce infrastructure costs, she said.

Latitude’s IT team worked with Workday to get the system up and running in just under nine months. Normally a project like this would take 18 months to complete, Bale said.

She said the rollout was completed in a short time frame for two reasons: sponsorship and ownership at the highest levels with very timely decisions, and ensuring the company engaged with Workday as a partner rather than a vendor.

“That’s really important. I know some people say, ‘you are splitting hairs; they are still vendors’ but it’s a partnership thing. If you both go in with the attitude that ‘we are going to be successful’, then you get quite a different perspective on things,” she said.

“We also tried to be as much ‘out of the box’ as we could with minimal customisations,” said Bale. “Workday is an intuitive system, really nice to use and we get good support. The whole proposition looks quite different from where we have come from.”

Meanwhile, Latitude’s IT teams are moving to a more agile delivery approach to help get the company’s products to market faster in a highly competitive financial services sector. Latitude closed 50 retail branches, predominantly in Victoria, earlier this year and centralised staff as it moved online.

“There’s been two small teams internally that have approached delivery in an agile form but we are now looking at moving that out en masse,” Bale said.

“We are an online organisation and online requires constant updating – the engagement with our customers and the experience – it’s not something you update once a year. It’s an ongoing interaction and hence why we are moving that way.”

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