Angela Donohoe, Chief Information Officer, BPAY Group
BPAY Group has spent more than two decades at the heart of a digital payment revolution, processing millions of digital, phone and online transactions. That success has been underpinned by trusted technology, but in 2015 we were facing aging infrastructure and the prospect of needing to invest in dated self-managed data centres.
It was also a time to overhaul our technology platforms as BPAY Group began developing another innovation: an Australian-first real-time payment system, Osko, which allows Australians to transfer money in seconds with rich data capabilities.
We decided against replacing our self-managed data centres and began searching for a private cloud partner, which would save substantial costs and allow us greater business agility and product flexibility.
This was no small decision. BPAY provides services to more than 165 financial institutions and service providers and has a reputation for providing seamless, reliable payment services including bill processing. We needed to transform and migrate 117 core business and corporate applications into a private cloud without missing a beat.
We ultimately selected a local partner with a proven track record who could meet our current and future requirements. We started our multi-stage project in June 2016, with the first stage comprising a range of technology experiments with the new platforms and transformation/ migration of lower risk applications, completing within 12 months. The more complex second stage of our technology overhaul then began, transforming, upgrading and migrating 30 business-critical systems to new technology services, migrating critical bank network links to new services, building a new office continuity site at St Leonards, and decommissioning two data centres.
]Security and trust are fundamental to our reputation for reliably processing 1.6 million payments daily.
We Ultimately Selected A Local Partner With A Proven Track Record Who Could Meet Our Current And Future Requirements
We took an unapologetically conservative approach, based on a detailed business case that allowed for extensive testing, ample resourcing, and minimal impact to BPAY services and its customers. Along the way we decided to adopt a hybrid cloud approach with a blend of public and private cloud services as well as directly owned and managed platforms. This approach enabled choice and the ability to operate within BPAY Group’s risk tolerance, with a focus on data protection, service availability and software licensing risk management.
At the peak of the program's second stage, we had 70 people working on multiple streams, working many nights and on weekends with the longest migration taking about 30 hours. Many of our changes required collaboration with our customers to conduct testing and agree on change windows in order to minimise impacts to our financial services partners.
While stage two of our technology transformation was underway, BPAY Group was still able to release multiple new solutions to the market. In 2018, these included the certification and launch of Osko; an integration with MYOB allowing small businesses to accept BPAY payments; and BPAY BatchMaker, a partnership with Quickbooks enabling small businesses to pay multiple suppliers at the same time. In addition, two separate start-ups were also launched: AI and machine learning company Sypht and property management platform Lodge. These ventures adopted a cloud-first approach, delivering some new learnings which have helped shape BPAY Group’s approach to technology innovation.
A comprehensive testing and migration process allowed us to not just ensure our solutions worked on new cloud platforms, but to also overhaul the way we worked. We incorporated agile methodologies and gave our people the opportunity to lead and be involved in new projects, working alongside external experts. More than 50% of the technology group were formally trained in, and now operate, new operating systems, enhanced security and automation technologies.
We run many of our new digital projects, such as BPAY innovation sandpits and APIs, on public cloud, giving our partners greater access to the BPAY Group trusted ecosystem. This isolates them from our core back office functions, which reside on a private cloud, allowing us to scale quickly, and provide higher availability, without impacting our core business.
The result is we now have a greater ability to be innovative and, leveraging our suite of owned and managed, private and public cloud solutions, we can deliver tailored solutions to meet specific market needs with greater agility. In 2016, we released four key upgrades of BPAY products to our customers. In 2018, supported by a product focused, agile approach, we achieved 44 application releases – an achievement we are all proud of.
Robust planning, appropriate funding, careful risk management and ongoing staff engagement have been key to our successful transition. By taking the time to put the right capabilities in place, BPAY Group is now set to continue delivering exciting innovations that deliver value for current and future customers.