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Information System In Allied Bank

Allied bank was the first bank to be established in Pakistan. It started out in Lahore by the name Australasia Bank before independence in 1942; was renamed Allied Bank of Pakistan Limited in 1974 and then Allied Bank Limited in 2005.

Allied Bank was the first Muslim bank to acquire been established in Pakistan.

Established in December 1942 as the Australasia Bank in Lahore with a paid-up share capital of Rs. 0. 12 million under the Chairmanship of Khawaja Bashir Bux, the lender attracted deposits equivalent to Rs. 0. 431 million in its first eighteen months of business.

Today, using its existence of over 60 years, the lender has generated itself a foundation with a strong equity, assets and deposit base. At the time, the Bank's total assets amounted to Rs. 0. 572 million. Today, Allied Bank's paid up Capital & Reserves amount to Rs. 10. 5 billion, deposits exceed Rs. 143 billion and total assets equal Rs. 170 billion. It includes universal banking services, while inserting major focus on retail banking. The Bank also offers the major network of over 800 online branches in Pakistan and offers various technology-based products and services to its diverse clientele.

Vision:

To become a dynamic and efficient bank providing integrated solutions and the first choice of bank for all customers.

Mission:

To provide high tech innovative solutions to meet customer requirements

To create sustainable value through growth, efficiency and diversity for all those stake holders

To give a challenging work environment, and reward dedicated team members

To play a proactive role in contributing into the society

Values:

Integrity

Excellence in service

High performance

Innovation and growth

Areas of Business:

Allied bank is operating in every major cities of Pakistan. It has a network of 700 branches.

Information Systems at Allied Bank Limited

Information systems used at ABL change from department to department and complete specifications of systems used in Customer Retail Banking Department will be mentioned in the later area of the report however, the IS used in Allied bank serves the normal purpose of faster communication between all stake holders, updating of transactions process on daily basis, provision of better customer service, faster execution of data, easier access and communication to the central branch and other branches countrywide etc. However, Allied Bank used manual systems before 2002. The reason why to make the shift to automated information systems are summarized below:

The need for converting from manual to automated systems:

Personnel at Allied Bank are of the view that both manual and automated systems work means of message entry and transmission but manual data systems have certain cons as compared to their counterpart the automated data systems. Manual data systems are slow and tedious as compared to automated systems. Moreover, there are more chances of human error occurring in the utilization of manual systems when compared with automated systems and this error removing is vital to the efficient functioning of the Allied Bank. Moreover, manual data systems are less secure and tampering with data can be done via their use and minimize that risk Allied bank shifted to the use of automated Data systems in 2002. Moreover, Mr. Shahzad Shahid, Product Manager-Liabilities, was of the view that this change will lead to cost reduction in the long term.

Management Information System used at ABL

The MIS used at Allied bank Limited is Oracle Database 10g. Oracle Data base 10g has completely transformed the outlook and operations of ABL. They have transformed the structure such that now ABL's IS will not contain fragmented machineries working individually to attain goals nonetheless they now function as a fused assortment of servers, storage devices, and systems to meet up with the changing processing needs of ABL. This led to dramatic cost reduction, overall efficiency and enhancement in the grade of customer service. It has additionally reduced hardware costs by efficient networking and amalgamating of functions performed by various servers and systems. Cost reduction also took place because Oracle 10g eliminated the need for the purchases and upgrading of management softwares and tools and alternative party interventions as it was a complete management solution in itself.

Oracle 10g also enabled Allied Bank Limited in efficient and wider data base storage, high and faster accessibility of data, faster performance, secure data transferring and cheaper application development. Salient features of Oracle 10g from which ABL is benefiting from are described below in great detail:

Oracle 10g served as an extremely attractive investment for Allied Bank Limited as it cut down significant costs of Allied Bank on hardware because Oracle 10g provide the technology of Oracle Real Application Clusters which enabled the creation of communication clusters via use of just 3-4 PCs which are more better to administer and run and are more efficient when compared with functioning of sole systems.

Oracle 10g also enabled Allied Bank to cut down its costs on storage devices which end up being a huge cost for banks to store humongous levels of daily transactions and data. However, this issue was solved by the use of Oracle's programmed storage management which not only enabled the pooling of PCs but also enabled pooling of storage devices to the communication cluster according to required. This choice of addition of storage devices to clusters made the data transformation, collection and storage cheaper, easier and efficient.

Oracle 10g has enabled Allied bank to save on its database management costs as its database administration is either completely automatic or much uncomplicated. This has enabled Allied bank to save its costs on working out of new database managers.

Oracle 10g has its cluster administration softwares which monitor, manage the performance of clusters and thus eliminates the needs for extra utility and program softwares. Oracle uses Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control and Management Packs to monitor clusters performance efficiently.

Oracle 10g uses GUI tools and utilities for increasing the energy and efficiency of the clusters.

Oracle 10g also introduces self-administration in the databases through use of programs such as Automatic Storage Management, Automatic Memory Management, Automatic Optimizer Statistics Collection, Automatic Workload Repository, Automatic Database Diagnostics Monitor, Automatic SQL Tuning, Segment Advisor, Automatic Workload Management, Automatic Disk-Based Backup and Recovery to meet the changing processing, data transforming and storing demands.

Thus, Allied Bank has benefited greatly from its shift from Manual systems to the automated Oracle 10g system. The huge benefits reaped are unparalleled in conditions of cost reduction, efficiency, data disseminating and decision making. Allied Bank in addition to the use of Oracle 10g uses softwares such as Unibank, however it is likely to change its banking software from Unibank to Temenos t-24 in the mid of 2010.

Shift from Unibank to Temenos T-24

When Allied bank shifted to automated Information Systems in 2002, it started using softwares such as UNIBANK. This software held answers to the management of all chaos created by the use of manual systems. Unibank was a branch centric cash management software which held answers to the banking problems of the time thus it was called the core banking solution. Unibank gave faster and safe electronic usage of banking transactions and functions. Unibank enabled Allied Bank to:

Evaluate the latest record of most account transactions taking place in the branch

Exchange information with other departments of the branch such as finance and accounting

Monitoring and management of deposits and withdrawals simultaneously

Electronic transfer of data from one branch to another

Provision of e-statements for the employees making their jobs easier.

Secure data control and transfer.

Electronic monitoring and management of employee payrolls

Need for Temenos T-24

Although Unibank appeared to be the answer to all the banking problems at that time however due to changing technological trends, higher uncertainty in the environment, shift towards centralized functioning and policies, Allied Bank has made a decision to shift from Unibank to Temenos T-24. This is because, Unibank was branch centric software and for this reason reason data could be lost or misplaced if server crashed at any particular branch. Moreover, taking into consideration the uncertain political situation in Pakistan, there is high likelihood of raids and fires and due to this the threat of data loss was eminent thus a shift has been planned and implemented from Unibank to Temenos T-24 as we speak. This shift will be implemented in all the branches countrywide within an interval of 6 months.

The reason for shifting to Temenos T-24 is that it is centralized software with the central server in Kashmir Road Branch in Lahore. This central server acts as a hub and daily transmissions are not only recorded in branches but in the central hub too, thus making the info better. Moreover, designated user ids/passwords, bio-metric systems enhance the security of information. All the transactions and operation take place in real time. Policies are designed at the central server in Lahore and can be applied to all or any the branches country wide thus making the procedures uniform and steady in all the branches.

Temenos T-24 in addition to providing all the functions that Unibank provided, offers a far more secure platform and new and efficient data bases. Moreover, Temenos T-24 is partners with Microsoft and has adopted MS platform to make the functioning of the software more user-friendly and easy. Moreover, one of the reasons for adopting Temenos T24 by ABL is the fact its cost of owner ship is very cheap when compared with the benefits it offers. Moreover, it uses established programs such as HTTP, XML so that functioning it no totally new experience but adds on to the previous knowledge of the employees.

Moreover, it has an edge over Unibank as it eliminates the need for end-of-day banking and is a true 24/7 banking system, which heaves away burden from the employees and permits employees and customers to gain access to updated information at all times.

Department: Commercial and Retail Banking

Overview

The Commercial & Retail Banking Group (CRBG) offers a number of asset and liability-based retail products to its customers. The Group's main focus has been on introducing various financing and investment products because of its valuable clients, and adding to the steady growth of the financial industry.

CRBG consists of 4 geographic groups and is also further divided across 27 regions in Pakistan. Each region is accountable for providing an excellent service to its customer-base.

In recent years, the Group has been working to find alternate ways to bank for customers, and has installed more ATMs to its already strong and major ATM network.

The department offers the following product and services to its customers

Internet Banking

Online Banking

Profit Rates

ATM Network

Unclaimed Deposits

Deposit Account

SME

Agriculture

Other Services

Corporate Leasing

The department has a total of 6000 employees all over Pakistan, the info flow and the data transfer rate thus is very high and poses a great challenge for the info System of the department to keep up and keep it secure.

Functional Hierarchy of the Department

Technical specifications

Allied Bank after its privatization has been following a pro I. T policy. The switch from the manual system to a more automated Information System requires certain infrastructure (PC's, Softwares etc) and ABL in this regard didn't compromise on quality; they have a contract with Digital World Pakistan Pvt. Ltd. (DWP) to provide state of the art computers with the best softwares to perform the M. I. S system.

The CRBG dept of ABL has the following I. T infrastructure:

Hardware Specifications

Personal computers-

14 in total - Consisting of 9 desktop PC's and 5 laptops

Desktop PC's Specs: Intel Pentium 4 2. 5ghz, 512MB RAM, 80 GB hard-disk

Laptop PC's Specifications: Intel Dual Core2 2Ghz, 2gb RAM, 160GB Hard-disk

HP Printers

3 altogether - 2 HP LaserJet 1010 Colored Printers,

1 HP Desk-jet Black and white printer

HP Digital Scanner

IBM P5 Mainframe Server

Specifications:

Four 1. 65GHz 64-bit POWER5 processors

L2 cache: 1. 9MB (2-way); 3. 8MB (4-way)

L3 cache: 36MB (2-way); 72MB (4-way)

32GB of 266MHz DDR1 memory

Two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports

Optional 2 Gigabit Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 4x InfiniBand adapters

Two USB, two HMC and two system ports

Software Specifications

Application Software

CRBG department Employees uses the following application softwares;

Microsoft Office 2007 & 2010

McAfee Anti-Virus 2010

Adobe Reader 8

System Software

The department's computers were found to be using the following system softwares;

Operating System: OR WINDOWS 7 for Desk-top PC's and Windows Vista for the Laptops.

Windows NT server for mainframe server.

Core Banking Solution

The software currently in use is UNIBANK, however T24 has been introduced in one branch in LAHORE.

Query Software

ABL employees generate queries through these softwares, for example if I want to see a customer's demographics I am going to devote a query in the Discoverer Viewer that may then seek the info from the Central Database

Discoverer Viewer - It is just for viewing of data,

Discoverer PLUS - The queries here could even be edited and employees have limited usage of this software

Network Type

Allied bank is using the client/server network because the employees easily share the data and its cheaper than others and maintainable. All of the data is saved in Central Database (CBS) and employees can simply access it. This type of computing system provides an easy access and efficient flow of data, which improve the functionality of organization.

End-User and training

In this era of cut-throat competition and diminishing profit margins Banks are becoming more lean, service oriented and efficient. As mentioned before Banks in order to keep this trend of efficiency going upward are adopting new information systems and updating the existing ones however one barrier to the are the employees, there is already a shortage of computer literate people in Pakistan and for this reason when new software's or In our case a fresh CORE BANKNG SOLUTION is introduced it needs rigorous training session to train the employees so that they are able to use the program.

The effectiveness of core banking systems is directly related to the abilities and knowledge of those operating them; therefore training can be an essential investment and not an expense. The training session have been divided into three stages

When we talk of the finish user it is the employees themselves here, they use the information available and make different queries accordingly as mentioned before currently the Core Banking Solution (CBS) namely Unibank has been change to Temenos which requires that the support and operations staff be trained to utilize this CBS. For this reason different training sessions have been organized by the lender and the Temenos technical team itself.

Apart out of this Temenos, to support the contracted BANKS, also provides the following courses with their employees:

Open Training Courses

Bespoke Training courses

End User Training (EUT)

Training consultancy for design and development of EUT courses

eLearning and Computer Based Training (CBT)

The "Train the Trainer" approach

The benefits associated with attending these training programs include dedicated premises and training equipment, and the added advantage of minimizing interruptions for the duration of program.

Information Intakes and Flow

CRBG has information flow daily from all over Pakistan, the department gets the responsibility to effectively manage the liabilities of the lender.

The information accessible by this department through the info system includes:

Daily Monitoring of Deposits

The deposits intakes and off takes through the day

Maintaining a minimum balance of funds

ATM monitoring

Monitoring the downtime of each ATM

Monitoring which area has a regular network/server issues

Customer Demographics

ABL's information system is associated with NADRA's system for verification of Customers ID's

CRBG has access to everything of its customers and employees as it is accountable for managing the liabilities section

Account Opening Run Rate

The accounts opened each day along with their balances

Employee Check in & Check out time

Through monitoring of the data employee efficiency may also be measured.

Query Regarding an Employee

Employee Record

Information Flow

We observe TRANSACTION PROCESSING SYSTEM functional in this department apart from the Office Automation Systems, all the activities and transactions done throughout the chain of command in this department is recorded first at the Branch level then after EODs (End of Day) are Run all the info of that days transactions are transferred to the ORACLE CENTRAL DATABASE located in ABL HEAD-QUARTERS LAHORE.

Real-time Monitoring has been done of this information flow by the department, after the day's information is saved in the ORACLE CENTRAL DATABASE in their respected fields and tables, it could be accessed through the DISCOVERER VIEWER/PLUS Software the next day by setting up a query for it.

Issues with the info System

To function effectively as an interacting, interrelated, and interdependent feeDatabase Administratorck tool for management and staff, MIS must be "useable. " The five components of a useable MIS system are: timeliness, accuracy, consistency, completeness, and relevance. The usefulness of MIS is hindered whenever one or more of the elements are compromised.

The IS at Allied Bank, although effective to a great extent, has certain weaknesses as we found out:

From a branch centered approach, the bank has moved to a centralized system. Transactions at the branches, previously used to be stored and processed at the branches only. It was only at the day end, that data and information was relayed to the top office. Now, however, this practice has changed. Branches only facilitate interactions with customers, whereas the information is directly send to the top office and is also processed there in real time. The issue with it is now time lag that results subsequently. Data flow from the idea of transaction to the top office, back again to the idea of transaction is an extended and hence a slower process.

Also the security procedures inbuilt in the new software, Temenos, make processing slower. In the new IS, cash transactions occurring go from a Temenos account head to a buffer account and then to the customer's account. Previously, the cash transactions were directly debited/ credited to the customer account. Buffer accounts created, although boost the overall security; make the processing of data slower.

Too much reliance on information systems does mean that in the scenario when server crashes down, or gets hanged, banking transactions will be completely disrupted.

Security Measures and Backup

One of the major concerns of organizations using it to handle their business processes is how to secure the info against internal and external threats. With modern advancements, mitigating information security threats has become a continuing battle. Viruses, worms, hacker attacks, spam, phishing, and instant messaging attacks are just some of the problems. Data bank faces security risk breaches not only at the hands of customers and outsiders, but also from the employees working within the business. It is therefore highly imperative to build security parameters to identify whatsoever threats there could be and to ensure data safety.

At Allied Bank, data security is the thing that can't be compromised whatsoever. For this reason, the MIS department has taken stringent measures to ensure data security. The Corporate and Retail Department which deals generally in confidential data of bank customers has taken numerous steps to avert security threats.

Employees have individual Ids and passwords that they use to log-in to the system database. But this will not imply that all the employees have same access to the info and information. You can find proper hierarchy levels: which implies that there are gatekeepers at each level, supervising 'who' access 'what' data! Password protection is there to prevent just everybody from viewing confidential data.

Moreover, Allied Bank uses SSL certified encryption to secure its data channels. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between an online server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. SSL is an industry standard and is utilized in the protection of online transactions with customers.

Encryption of data exchanged by customers and the lender means that data security, even if breached on its way, will make decrypting and understanding the data difficult.

Anti-virus and anti-spam packages like McAfee Anti-Virus are also installed to secure data against viruses, spam, etc.

There is also a Disaster Recovery System set up, in case of fire, raids, and other unforeseen and unexpected events. The backups are stored at both hot and cold sites. The head office in Lahore is the hot site. It is the central database of Allied Bank where all the transactions occurring in the eight hundred roughly branches are recorded and updated on a genuine time basis.

The cold sites are in the 27 regional offices around Pakistan. These cold sites are updated at appropriate intervals, over a weekly basis sometimes. Relative to their state Bank of Pakistan regulation, data and information of three years is stored and maintained at these cold sites.

Also, USBs are trusted as potable storage devices.

Future Plans

Allied bank is likely to replace the existing Core Business Solution 'Uni Bank' with 'Temenos'.

This transformation is within its phase I. The program has been tested in one branch nearby the HQ in Lahore. This testing phase will end on June 30th.

Training of employees has been conducted and additional more sessions are in the pipeline

Allied bank plans to introduce Temenos in 107 branches out of the whole network of 800 braches within half a year.

Implementation in further branches is still unplanned.

Allied Bank has opened its branch in Kashmir and plans to extend its network and reach in the remote areas of the united states.

Recommendations

The disaster recovery system at Allied Bank is inappropriate to bear the load of 800 branches. You can find one common hot site of all the branches at the Head Office and cold sites at the regional offices, 27 in number. But we believe that these backups are too less, keeping the existing security scenario because where banks have even been raided and burned by mobs. Therefore the backups should be create at places other than the bank branches.

The training period for a batch of 50 people is three weeks normally. We believe that this is insufficient as the new banking system 'Temenos' has far complex procedures as an individual interface is not friendly.

Proper temperature controls are necessary for the server to operate efficiently. We feel that the existing infrastructure is insufficient to aid the machine.

References

http://searchsecurity. techtarget. com/topics/0, 295493, sid14_tax299811, 00. html

http://tldp. org/HOWTO/SSL-Certificates-HOWTO/x64. html

http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Disaster_recovery

http://info. ssl. com/article. aspx?id=10241

http://www. occ. treas. gov/handbook/mis. pdf

http://www. temenos. com

http://www. abl. com. pk

http://www. oracle. com

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