Westpac staff using ‘100m minutes of Teams each month’

Miranda Ratajski Banking Summit

Westpac employees are spending upwards of 100 million minutes – the equivalent of 190 calendar years – each month on Microsoft Teams calls, according to the bank’s chief information officer (CIO), group business units, Miranda Ratajski, following accelerated adoption of the digital collaboration technology during Covid.

As loved as it is grudgingly accepted by staff, Ratajski, speaking at FST’s 2023 Sydney Banking Summit today, stressed that digital-only interactions – with the implementation of cloud-based collaboration tools greatly accelerated through the Covid pandemic – are here to stay.

“The door that we came through into Covid is not the door we’re going out of. Face-to-face was what we always did, but not anymore.”

Just prior to the Covid pandemic hitting Australia, in November 2019, Westpac revealed that a little over half (55 per cent] of its employees had access to desktop and cloud-based collaboration. By mid-2021, the rollout process was complete, with the bank becoming the first in Australia to entirely replace its PABX telephone systems and dedicated VoIP systems with Microsoft Teams Calling. The employee collaboration and call centre suite was also made available to more than 5,000 branch office staff.

With reams of unstructured data being generated through these Teams interactions, Ratajski said the bank is currently examining “different solutions” to process this data and feed it into Westpac’s records management systems.

Streamlining employee management systems

Since implementation of its electronic signature service within “one small part of the bank’s” home loan division, Ratajski said, Westpac has saved its employees upwards of 17,000 hours of labour per month; for customers, this has meant up to 37,000 hours per month that “they’re not running around trying to look for [wet] signatures”.

As part of Westpac’s extensive diversity and gender parity program, Ratajski noted the bank’s overhaul of its maternity leave applications process. The successful rejigging has resulted in employees saving up to 10,000 hours each month in wasted labour.

“[Our] tool to apply for maternity actually mapped the end-to-end process of the top 20 reports that people were downloading from this [maternity leave] system.

“What we realised is that, when we did some tweaks to the [service] and to the network, and got rid of some of the latency, we saved some 10,000 hours a month for our people.

“Every one of those minutes is something they could use to look after customers.”