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Six steps in your digital loan origination system implementation not to overlook

Six steps in your digital loan origination system implementation not to overlook

The banking industry continues to transform in an attempt to be more transparent (both internally and externally) and improve overall customer experience. Banks are investing heavily in tools such as the nCino Loan Origination System (LOS) tool to automate and streamline the end-to-end loan process. But, simply implementing software does not guarantee success. A robust Organizational Change Management (OCM) approach is critical to ensure success. Effective OCM not only promotes adoption of the tool, but also helps banks realize the benefits sought from the investment in loan origination tools. From our experience assisting clients with nCino implementations, we believe the following six OCM activities are key to success.

  1. Identify specific project objectives, desired results and corresponding key performance metrics. At the start of a project, you might ask yourself what success looks like. I’ll bet if you ask others around you or peers in different departments, you’ll get different answers and different expectations. That’s okay, but it’s critical to establish upfront what the goals are for the entire organization, have leadership align on them, and communicate them throughout the organization. You want all relationship managers, underwriters, and portfolio managers to have the same goals in mind. Once they are aligned on common goals, measure progress towards your key performance metrics. You achieve what you measure. If you’re struggling to develop your own key performance metrics, start with published benchmarks and revise according to your priorities.
  2. Prioritize system functionality – no system is perfect on day one. Pragmatic releases of functionality over time are important. First, get foundational functionality implemented quickly with a manageable pilot. Gather feedback from pilot users and then enhance the system monthly. Remember to communicate frequently and consistently about the changes, enhancements, and new functionality. Inevitably, users will expect more, want more, and thus be disappointed when less is delivered. Communicating frequently will bridge the gap and make it clear what and when features and functions are coming.
  3. Engage key stakeholders to lead the change. Every bank defines their departments slightly differently, but the functions are more or less the same – sales, credit application, underwriting, document preparation, and portfolio management/servicing. You should identify a key stakeholder from each department to make timely decisions for the project team and to lead the way for their respective areas. Ideally, the person chosen is the direct deputy of the current overall leader for that group, someone who might be considered “next in line.” A project this transformational will require trust, respect, and a strong voice to guide the way. During a recent implementation, one of our clients had two leaders represent their constituents – one who leads sales through credit memo and the other who leads underwriting through portfolio management.
  4. Communicate role-based impacts. Transformational change brings with it role impacts. Relationship managers will likely be asked to manage their pipeline in the system, portfolio managers will likely need to work a queue to process their covenant reviews, underwriters will have to make decisions to route loans through the proper approval queue. These changes need to be clearly communicated up front. You don’t want to catch employees off guard, especially when it comes to their roles and responsibilities. We recently worked with a bank that originally had their relationship managers spreading financials. That process was changed to move the spreading downstream to the credit department, allowing the relationship managers to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time selling.
  5. Train users properly on future state roles, processes, and technology. The order of this section is intentional. First, help users understand any role/responsibility changes, then teach them the new processes, and, finally, walk through the technology steps or “screen clicks” necessary to execute a process. This is the best way to gradually build understanding and competence. Also, train people on both their specific process and steps as well as what others are doing around them – this will certainly help shape the broad understanding and big picture. Lastly, remember that practice makes perfect. Let your credit analysts enter real deals within a test system. Allowing them to practice on a new system with a deal that they are comfortable with makes the learning process less daunting.
  6. Challenge people to continuously improve. Let’s be honest, things will be a little rocky on day one and that’s one of the main reasons we recommend a pilot rollout as a best practice. A proper mechanism should be in place to ensure users can share feedback and the leadership team can evaluate those ideas and implement the best ones. Feedback and enhancements should not stop after the pilot – continuing to invest in the system is critical. Both qualitative (user experiences) and quantitative (key performance indicators) feedback will shape your continuous improvement efforts.

In our experience, deliberately taking action on the above six steps will greatly increase the overall success and value derived in a bank-wide transformation.

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