The decision to outsource a function or task is often a difficult one for banks. Executives need to consider many different factors. And once they decide to outsource, the search for the perfect vendor partner begins. An array of different solution partners often exist for banks to choose, so how can executives select the right partner for their needs?
Bankers should begin by evaluating vendors by inquiring into their implementation process — not solely by reviewing their technology. The key is to ask important questions early. Implementation is often filled with pain points and obstacles that banks and their partners must address; it is easy to forget about the huge implications of implementing new technology and processes. As the bank sheds older processes, how can their new partners help them connect the dots to ensure the end result for employees and customers improves?
Before the Process Begins
Bankers may need to ask themselves some hard questions before they begin the search for a partner. This process will disrupt the current status quo. Is their organization truly ready for changes associated with an implementation?
Usually, the people making partner decisions are not the ones who will have to work with the new technology on a regular basis. Bring the day-to-day employees into the conversation early: they can provide insights about how processes work today and management can give them with a realistic understanding of what the implementation process will look like. These employees have a unique perspective that might trigger additional questions that decision-makers had not thought to ask before.
There are two discussion-driving questions bankers can ask potential vendor partners to help when deciding on which solution is going to work best for their organization.
1. How do I get from Point A to Point B?
The goal is to uncover as many pain points as possible and discuss how the potential partner will work with the bank to solve them. Every implementation is going to have challenges, but many potential vendors do not mention challenges during the sales process without direct questions from the bank. Getting a good idea of what the overall process looks like helps prepare banks for where issues may arise. Executives should ask questions like:
• How does this new process pull data or connect to user information within the core?
• Are all processes automated? Does any human intervention need to occur?
• How does the vendor update the core to keep a single source of truth?
2. How strong is your project management?
Before bankers even have these conversations with a potential partner, they need to make sure they have a good understanding of the technology and workflow changes that will happen. Similarly, bankers need to ensure that their potential partner understands the realistic impact those changes will have on the institution. Shared empathy and understanding will provide both partners with a better implementation process.
Vendors typically have their own project management methodology. It is important to learn what that is and evaluate whether or not it will work for the bank’s team. Bankers should ask questions like:
• Who does the vendor project team consist of?
• Is there a timeline of key deliverables and accountability?
• What are the typical challenges that stall similar projects?
• How does the vendor help the bank overcome these challenges?
• Can they provide a sample testing plan?
Good partners will create and communicate a realistic timeline with drop dead dates to make sure that everything remains on target. Finding a partner that will be open and honest is priceless when it comes to ensuring a smooth implementation.
At the end of the day, the bank is going through a transformation. The ultimate goal is to provide the organization or the end user with better technology or an improved experience — maybe both. Doing due diligence and asking the hard questions early prepares the bank for a better implementation process. Working to understand all the implications that come with integrating new systems and a new partner will set banks up for success and help executives choose the right partner — beyond just a solution.