Fletcher says one of the programmes that emerged from these conversations with key suppliers is having Westpac as the anchor customer for New Zealand's first IBM Delivery Centre at Unitec.
"Make sure you make best use of what they can bring to the table with all the partners," he says.
Sidebar: In for the long-haul
"In a world where technologies are changing pretty rapidly, the ability for us to continue to tap into the limited resources market in New Zealand, for capable and competent resources to meet demands around mobile and online development around process management tools and capabilities around middleware is always a bit of a challenge," says Jim Stabback, chief operating officer at Westpac New Zealand.
He says this is especially true when the demand is coming not just from Westpac but other organisations that are growing rapidly.
Stabback says this is one of the prime reasons why Westpac became the anchor customer for the IBM Delivery Centre at the Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland.
Under this venture, the first of its kind in New Zealand, around 100 post-graduate and undergraduate computer science students will be supervised by IBM developers and managers to provide Westpac with technical and IT support.
Stabback explains that IBM brought the idea to the bank following conversations with Unitec. IBM runs a similar programme in Australia with a tertiary institution in Geelong. The five-year IBM-Unitec contract means Westpac has access to 50 full-time equivalent roles.
He says an "appealing part" of the project is that it taps into an emerging labour market and keeps jobs in New Zealand.
"It is always difficult to get enough of the right people at the right time," he says, and the project gives Westpac the ability to scale its workforce up and down.
"It doesn't mean we won't hire people to Westpac to do certain things that might be strategically important or where we can see long term demand for certain types of people and resources."
Stabback's advice to other organisations which might be contemplating a similar arrangement with a provider is to "be open minded on the possibilities of how to make that work."
"You have to leverage the opportunity for the benefit of all of the stakeholders not just for our organisation, Westpac, but also for IBM and students of Unitec."
Stabback joined Westpac from the Bank of Queensland where he was the CIO and group executive, IT and operations.
"There is a very strong alignment between the operational responsibility with the technology role because in the end, technology enables almost everything that we do as a bank," he says.
"Leveraging technology to enable customer differentiation or enable productivity improvement is really the essence of the effectiveness of chief operating officer's role."
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