Instigating Change in a Bank, Part 2

October 13, 2016 Dallas Wells

Last week we began looking at the six components that are critical if you’re looking to implement change at your bank. We covered the first three – culture change, selling the future state and getting user input – in that post.

Today in part two, we’ll address the next three components.

As we noted last week, our implementation experience comes from rolling out software in banks, but the lessons here can be applied to many different types of changes (of tools, processes, people, etc.) in any type of organization.

Clear Ownership

This is a topic we have discussed many times, but every new endeavor needs a clear owner. Someone needs to have both the responsibility and the authority to move the project along, and with that comes clear accountability. Committees can certainly be used to help, but there must be an individual’s name attached to it if you want it to be done on time and on budget. In our world we refer to a Chief Pricing Officer, but every project needs a similar role.

As one of my bosses once told me, “There are lots of people involved, but I’m putting you in charge so I have one throat to choke.” I definitely got the point, and made sure that the project was herded through as planned.

Conversely, if your bank chooses not to implement change, someone needs to own that decision as well. When the outcome of staying status quo rests on someone’s shoulders, it no longer becomes a state that’s easily defaulted to in lieu of change.


Bite-Size Pieces

The most common objection we get from prospects is that, because they already have so much on their plate, they can’t imagine adding another project. Especially one that will touch many parts of their business. This sentiment doesn’t change just because the bosses decide it’s a priority. The project team often walks into the kickoff meeting expecting the worst, as their plates are full of other projects that are behind schedule and are falling short of promised results.

To combat this, we simply break everything down into manageable pieces. Everything from configuration to user training is broken down into a bite-size chunk, and then assigned to a person with a due date. Once we start making progress, we communicate that over and over again.

When a team can see measurable forward progress after a couple of weeks, and realize that it actually wasn’t so painful, the project tends to pick up momentum. Yes, this takes a fair amount of advance planning, but it’s always worth it.

Shorten the Time-to-Value

The final item on our list is one that is closely related to several others, but it’s important enough to merit its own section. We see a lot of banks that do a great job with selling the future state, but still wind up in projects that eventually become so long and drawn out they lose momentum and stall before completion. Banks are usually beholden to the annual budget cycle, which means anything that stretches out too far without generating results runs the risk of losing resources.trophy

To keep everyone engaged in projects, it’s vital to shorten the time-to-value. That means baking in some early wins into the process that keep everyone engaged in moving things forward.

Modern software can do this as long as it is built into the plan from the beginning. In our case, our goal is always to have the system configured so that deals can be priced with it inside of a month. Yes, more tweaks will be made, and we are often still finishing up integrations and data feeds. But, deals can be priced and won, and benefits (and goodwill) can start accruing very early.

This heads off a lot of frustration from both users and management, and helps keep the back end of the project on track. Getting something live and “in the wild” sooner also gives the added benefit of new data. We learn what works and what still needs to be adjusted early enough to easily make the changes. It is always harder if you wait.

Change is hard. We know this firsthand and we’ve witnessed many banks struggle with it as well.

But positive change also brings opportunities. With the right processes in place, you’ll be ready to implement those changes and vault your bank ahead of the competition.


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