3 Keys to a Successful Process Improvement Initiative

michael's picture

Many banking New Year’s resolutions will include a renewed focus on efficiency.

  As annual shareholder meeting agendas and presentations are assembled, the obligatory nod to expense reduction will no doubt be worthy of a line graph or a bar chart to emphasize the need to rein in growing personnel and technology expenses.  How to execute and make this stick longer than that personal pledge to work out more and eat less (or at least healthier) requires a different approach than banks and credit unions have taken in the past.  Otherwise, we’ll be looking back at 2017 and that spare tire will still be hanging around our waist in the form of sluggish, expensive, and error-prone internal processes.

 
Agile Banking’s proven approach to process improvement provides the keys to a successful process improvement initiative. 
 
1)           Process owners
Silo-busting today’s processes that span many departments requires a dedicated and accountable process owner.  A committee of managers and business analysts cannot untangle the patchwork of spaghetti that are burned into the way we work.  A single, senior manager focused on the performance of a process, not the P&L the process supports, is the best way to affect change.
 
This process owner will have the respect of the stakeholders and be responsible for the reengineering effort.  The process owner needs a small team to design and implement the new, more efficient process.  The process owner will ensure the process performers are educated and trained to execute the new process.
 
In short, without a process owner you will never overcome the turf battles that stand in the way of meaningful change.
 
2)           Information management
It’s no secret that we are drowning in information.   Every business process begins with the creation or receipt of information so we should expect to have a lot of information.  What is not happening is the management of that information from the beginning.  The result is the same information is rekeyed many times in a process.  The same document is scanned many times.  The same work is checked and reconciled many times. 
 
Leveraging information in a process is a fundamental requirement for an efficient process.  To do this requires a level of creativity and technical ability that eludes many.  It is an area where Agile Banking shines brightest.
 
3)           Process documentation
Policies are the foundation of business process creation. Procedures are instructions for completing tasks within the process.  What is typically missing from process documentation is the end to end process in a visual flowchart format with all of the stakeholder swimlanes, activities, and system interconnectivity.  Think of a blueprint.  We wouldn’t think of building or remodeling a house without one.  Why would we think we can reengineer a process that spans the customer and four or five departments without a blueprint? 
 
This type of process documentation is helpful for its immediate benefits in laying out the current state facts, as well as in the future, to understand how new process requirements should be implemented in the most efficient manner.  Keeping this process documentation up-to-date and reviewing it as part of an ongoing process strategy is the responsibility of the process owner.
 
Together, these 3 keys will ensure your process improvement initiatives gain and keep traction throughout 2017 and beyond. 
Contact Agile Banking for a kick-start.

-CroalDude