Barclays plans complete overhaul of branches' IT

Barclays Bank is embarking on a multimillion-pound programme to update the IT in its network of branches as part of a...

Barclays Bank is embarking on a multimillion-pound programme to update the IT in its network of branches as part of a company-wide drive to improve the efficiency of its computer systems and reduce overheads.

The bank is spending an estimated £200m to replace outdated branch hardware and software, networks systems, storage systems and its automatic teller machine (ATM) infrastructure with state-of-the-art equipment, through a mixture of outsourcing and in-house development, people close to the project have told Computer Weekly.

News of the plan comes as Barclays is in negotiations with IBM to outsource the management of its entire IT infrastructure in a deal estimated to be worth more than £100m a year.

IBM is believed to be the leading contender for the contract to manage and roll out a complete refit of Barclays IT branch systems by the middle of 2003. The deal would be worth an estimated £50m.

The programme, dubbed Exodus, could ultimately allow Barclays to reduce the number of staff at its branches by automating some manual processes - a key part of the bank's long-standing goal to reduce costs across the organisation by £1bn by 2003.

Under the proposed deal, IBM will manage the roll out of Dell desktop equipment running Microsoft and Oracle applications to Barclays branches around the country. The bank is expected to deploy proprietary smartcards and cryptography to secure access to the systems.

IBM is also tipped for the contract to provide training to branch staff on how to operate the new systems, using electronic learning materials developed by e-learning specialist Adval, which has a long-standing relationship with the bank.

Separately, Barclays is considering plans to outsource the management of its ageing ATM network, in a contract that could be worth more than £15m a year. NCR is one of the companies said to be tendering for the work.

Barclays is expected to make an announcement shortly about the future of more than 200 IT staff in its infrastructure, data storage and support operations, which are also under consideration for outsourcing.

A Barclays spokesman said, "Barclays is working with multiple suppliers on a programme to replace elements of its technology on its sites. The first phase of renewal, starting later this year, will improve the efficiency of the bank's voucher [cheque] processing systems."

Read more on IT legislation and regulation