How Does Process Improvement Prepare Financial Institutions for Future Innovation?

Financial institutions have been forced to pivot in the past two years to address the unexpected disruption of the pandemic. FIs made great strides early on by implementing customer-facing digital solutions quickly to meet the needs of their account holders. However, many did not have the bandwidth initially to consider the backroom processes that support these new innovations. As a result, many of the processes remain inefficient and cumbersome.

Mikelle Brady, PRI partner, says that some of the new innovations FIs have implemented should be examined to understand if they have been built on a solid process foundation. For example, some FIs are offering customers a robust digital lending platform but still manually onboarding accounts in the backroom. Making those processes more efficient can open the door to more innovation and better growth.

Now is the time to consider process improvements to pave the way for future innovation.

The CMS Wire article, Why Process Improvement is Key to Your Organization’s Success, states that FI growth will not occur without effective strategy execution. 

“Processes are fundamental to an organization’s culture. They define how things are done and why they’re done that way. And because organizations are constantly changing as they respond to internal and external pressures, continual process improvement can enable team engagement and lead to growth.”

Before an FI moves to improve its digital platform or add to its offerings, it’s wise to take some time to ensure processes are running efficiently and effectively. To be a truly effective industry innovator, it’s important to have a strong strategic plan outlining your goals, how you will accomplish them and how to get your team on board.

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Process Improvement and the ‘Because We’ve Always Done It That Way’ Culture, Part 1

When considering improving efficiency, FIs often think only about the bottom-line impact on revenue or saving money. However, PRI’s perspective when driving toward efficiency is always about improving customer experience – for both external and internal customers.

For example, using a manual process to onboard new customers is inefficient for both the customer and the internal staff performing the process.

“An improvement in the process helps both sides of the equation, ensuring that customers become established more quickly and staff spends less time and effort implementing the process,” Brady said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

When beginning a process improvement project with a client, Brady said PRI consultants listen closely for two key phrases: “We’ve always done it that way” and “Just in case.” Each one can indicate there are inefficient processes in place that can be improved.

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Process Improvement and the ‘Because We’ve Always Done It That Way’ Culture, Part 2

Three key ways to get started with process improvement:

  • Examine how and where employees are spending the most time in their workdays. Hone into the processes where time can be shaved off through automation or by utilizing technology. Help employees eliminate repetitive processes such as keeping “shadow files” by ensuring the process is accurate and works every time.
  • Identify pain points or common errors frequently made. These are likely places that invite process improvement.  
  • Ensure FIs are utilizing system-generated reports instead of cumbersome spreadsheets. Automating the reporting process reduces errors and increases efficiency.

When processes are at their most efficient and effective, the road is paved to new innovations that improve the customer experience – both internally and externally. Process improvement lays a solid foundation for FI growth. Having a strong strategy in place to support innovation translates to increased success.

Profit Resources specializes in identifying profitability improvement areas for financial institutions through revenue growth, cost control, streamlining processes, and effective use of technology. Contact us to learn more about our personalized approach to propel growth and improve profitability.

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