GRI 3-3

Timely endeavours by the Shared Services Group in fast-tracking ongoing and planned projects in 2022 helped Al Rajhi Bank maintain its leadership position in a year that built continuous pressure on Banks with new entries in fintech causing much disruption.

The Shared Services Group (SSG) continued to engage in rapid automation across all business units and subsidiaries in order to reduce product and process complexities and enhance customer experience, delivering system upgrades and other product enhancements during the reporting period.

Information Technology (IT)

The rapid acceleration of the Bank’s digital transformation drive in 2022 saw Al Rajhi Bank become the Kingdom’s number one brand in digital banking, an achievement made possible by future-proofed technological infrastructure and bleeding-edge systems upgrades.

The Systems Modernisation programme continued in 2022 with scheduled upgrades and off-loading of legacy mainframes, migrating existing systems from legacy to a digital-first core-banking platform, and converting the Bank’s legacy applications to an event-driven architecture. By making complex event processing possible, the IT team enabled higher customer engagement, while enabling the Bank to up/cross
sell products in real time. These upgrades enabled asset re-use between the Bank and its subsidiaries, enhancing resource utilisation and driving cost effectiveness at Group level, while improving performance and system availability.

With unprecedented transaction growth during the reporting period, IT faced the challenge of sustaining the Bank’s growth momentum alongside the rapid migration to the new digital core. IT averted any business impact through proactive capacity management, standardising product arrangements and optimising end-of-day batches for high efficiency, among other measures. As the migration continues through 2023 with complex products such as mortgage, IT is well positioned to handle any future challenges through infrastructure and architectural simplification.

With e-invoicing going live across the Kingdom in December 2021 under the purview of the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA), the Bank’s VAT system was integrated with ZATCA’s Fatoora e-invoicing portal during the reporting period. This enabled online invoice delivery, with automated reconciliation drastically reducing processing times from five hours to one, contributing towards an enhanced customer experience.

Personal finance products were digitally rolled out as part of the Bank’s core banking transformation programme this year. The Micro and Small Business (MSB) transformation programme also launched digital journeys along with conventional product and service offerings for Point of Sales (PoS), Business Instalment Financing (BIF) and e-Commerce facilities, as well as the conventional journey for Fleet Financing.

During the reporting period, IT also upgraded the Bank’s multifactor authentication technology based on the NetIQ Advanced Authentication Framework (NAAF), enhancing user experience and performance in Retail Banking and HR. The implementation also simplified programming interfaces between the Bank’s systems, and improved the performance of the overall Core Banking application.

An all-new Microservices platform was implemented during the reporting period to split larger applications into smaller modules that are independently deployable, fully automated and highly efficient. The highly scalable, cloud-ready platform enhanced system resilience and minimised downtime by allowing the development of easy-to-deploy apps that support agile delivery, and are ready for market faster. The platform’s scope will also cover the integration of identity management via mobile authentication, Microservices Middleware and the e-Corporate channel backend.

The Bank’s Digital Factory delivered around 300 projects in 2022, with a view to widen the customer base and boost customer adaptation to digital channels across both Retail and Corporate Banking. Improvements in Online Customer Onboarding, Digital Capabilities, Personal Finance, Mortgage & Auto Finance, Marketplace, Cards, and Loyalty were also carried out during the reporting period.

The reporting period also witnessed the implementation of Personal Finance Management (PFM) and Business Finance Management engines. As part of the Bank’s digitisation strategy and ease of work policy, implementation of the new edition of SAHL – Al Rajhi Bank’s employee self-service app – was a great success and received positive feedback from management and employees. Al Rajhi Bank employee loyalty and benefit initiative Testahl is also being integrated onto the SAHL upgraded system.

Other planned and new automation processes introduced by the IT team during the year under review helped streamline and expedite customer journeys, while greatly improving internal operational efficiencies. For loan approvals, an instant approval engine was implemented for all finance requests submitted by customers through branch or digital channels. Notably, the Bank’s automated accounting integration platform also reduced development times for new products from an average of two weeks to less than a day.

The IT team automated and upgraded a number of HR systems and processes, including the implementation of the first Cloud-based talent management solution, with more systems scheduled to be migrated to the cloud in 2023 in line with the Bank’s Cloud Migration Strategy. The streamlining and automating of over 40 business processes during the year has enabled faster online delegation, improved transparency, reduced lead times and contributed to improved decision-making across the Bank’s HR function.

The Bank heavily invested in technological capacity building for its existing employees to meet the rapid pace of the Bank’s own technological transformation during the reporting period. Over 260 employees were trained across numerous systems and applications.

Business Continuity and Crisis Management

In 2022, the Business continuity Management (BCM) team continued to improve the Bank’s culture of continuity by integrating its regulatory requirements within the policies and procedures across various departments. This effort was complemented by raising awareness internally across all departments through workshops and a variety of practical drills. The BCM team supported the business in launching 47 new products and services, conducted 81 business impact analysis (BIA) reports, completed 6 comprehensive threats risk assessments (TRA) with all treatments and mitigation controls, and developed 18 business continuity plans (BCP) across the Bank.

With greater significance placed on strong contingency plans in the event of unexpected and unprecedented interruptions to operations, the BCM team successfully conducted 10 major tests across all lines of business in 2022. These comprehensive tests helped verify the effectiveness of BCM team procedures, measure the level of achievement of specific recovery time objectives (RTOs) related to business processes, evaluate adequacy of recovery capability in recovery sites and identify weaknesses and gaps, and identify opportunities for improvement. The tests also helped evaluate the adequacy of the training and awareness provided by the BCM team to relevant stakeholders, enabling the BCM team to concisely communicate to all stakeholders including the Bank’s subsidiaries and international branches, their roles, responsibilities and authorities if faced with a crisis.

The tests carried out in 2022 included a simulated complete power outage at the Al Rajhi Bank headquarters and Operations Center, which required relocation of critical staff to designated Data Recovery (DR) centres. This was followed by a simulated, unannounced spear phishing attack on 250 targeted employees, to measure the capability of the Security Operations Centre (SOC) team to react and address the challenge. Other multiple Interruption DR Tests and Controlled DR Drills were successfully carried out at Al Rajhi Bank during the reporting period, including non-disruptive failover testing, alternative workspace testing, live DR testing as well as a simulated Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack to verify the Bank’s cybersecurity response.

During the year, as part of its Vendor Continuity Programme, the BCM team evaluated 89 vendors and 95 contracts related to key services identified through the business impact analysis, and cooperated with several departments such as Legal, Procurement, Risk and Compliance to ensure that continuity requirements are included in all contracts. Apart from multiple workshops, the BCM team also launched an e-learning programme in 2022 as one of the mandatory courses to be completed within the first three months of joining for new recruits.

Centralising Operations through Tanfeeth

In 2022, Al Rajhi Bank’s Business Operations unit for Process Excellence was transformed as part of its “unbank the bank” business model and relaunched as Tanfeeth, incorporating Managed Operations, Staffing Solutions, Automation Services and Contact Centre Operations to its mandate.

In line with the Bank’s ambition to be a stand-out industry leader in superior customer experience, over 166 key processes were automated using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) by Tanfeeth across Corporate, Retail and Enterprise operations, resulting in a significant annual cost optimisation.

Through Tanfeeth, which literally translates to “getting the job done”, the Shared Services Group is committed to deliver on its promises cost reduction and customer experience enhancement. These objectives are expected to be delivered across the pillars of Digitisation, Workforce Optimisation, Enterprise Capabilities, and Control and Analytics solutions going forward.

The transition of operations to Tanfeeth saw the Bank’s overall operational performance improving by over 30% YoY despite a 25% increase in application volumes attributed to sales growth in the market. There was a notable reduction in overall turnaround times including 75% faster processing of personal loans, with personal loans processing now down to under 20 minutes, and 61% faster Auto Lease underwriting, with the process currently down to under 60 minutes.

SSG enhanced machine availability for its cash services, and increased the number of automated processes to result in an overall higher transaction success rate. The reporting cycle saw a minimised number of Service Level Agreement (SLA) breaches in incident reporting following the implementation of advanced and uncompromising SLA best practice, with the resulting SLA performance for Wholesale, Micro and Small Business (MSB) and Treasury maintained at 99% for the year under review. Kiosk service availability improved to 97% in 2022,

The new Additional Self-Construction Mortgage (SCM) product launched in 2022 was testament to Tanfeeth’s innovation and focus on performance. Sales of this fully automated product exceeding 18 times its expectation, and were processed within two weeks with Tanfeeth’s RPA capabilities.

Improvements through RPA delivered a strong performance in 2022, with Tanfeeth introducing over 30 new automated processes and 35% more bots across the Bank and its subsidiaries, with an average success rate of 97%. In Compliance Operations, the automation of fund transfer and the block/unblock process by Tanfeeth resulted in a 100% reduction of average pending requests to zero.

The Bank’s Contact Centre was successfully migrated to Tanfeeth in 2022, with its physical operations migrating from Riyadh to Al Qassim. Gender equality has been high on the agenda for the Bank over the past few years across all levels of its operation, and 2022 was no exception. With the successful implementation of its strategy to recruit a female-driven workforce of over 1,200 employees, the Contact Centre Service Levels exceeded the promise of an 80% response rate, with answer speeds down to less than one minute on average.


GRI 3-3

The Shared Services Group initiated Phase I of the Procurement Transformation Programme, with multiple dashboard upgrades, to provide greater visibility and efficiencies across all macro and micro procurement functions and procurement transactions. The Procurement Committee functions were also fully automated in 2022, allowing for greater transparency and recording of procurement projects and their administrative functions.

Vendors continued to undergo a thorough screening process when registering through the Bank’s online supplier portal, and, upon approval, were able to participate in tender processes, submit their invoices and track their payment status, along with other efficient functionalities. The Bank registered and issued purchase orders to 141 Saudi national vendors during the reporting period, recording a 21% increase in total vendor registration YoY.

Future outlook

Future outlook

As Al Rajhi Bank’s digital transformation and cloud migration continues into 2023, the IT teams plan to introduce embedded artificial intelligence (AI) to the Bank’s digital experience, and deliver higher throughput from existing infrastructure by optimising application deployment through DevOps. In line with the Bank of the Future (BOTF) Strategy, the IT team will also look at enhancing the Bank’s fraud detection and prevention technology, while strengthening its capacities and capabilities in Open Banking.

The Cash and Clearing Operations department is expected to carry out a number of automations and transforming initiatives to improve turnaround times and eliminate human errors, while also minimising dependency on paper at Cash Centres with the end-goal of only using paper of value such as cash and cheques.

The BCM team will implement its Strategic Transformation Plan for 2025, transitioning from traditional continuity methodology to an organisational resilience model, with the aim to resist, absorb, recover and adapt to business disruptions in an increasingly complex environment.

Phase two of the Procurement Transformation Programme will begin in 2023, aiming to enhance the end-to-end procurement process for the Bank and its subsidiaries, with the aim of achieving globally recognised benchmarks to demonstrate the significance of the Bank’s procurement function as an essential value driver and organisational influencer.