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What to Know Before Making Operational Changes

Banks and other lending institutions are managing change at a breakneck speed. We know that implementing operational change strategies can be challenging at best. Our blog prepares you to launch a successful change initiative. You’ll find a high level assessment questionnaire to get started and best practices to avoid pitfalls that add time and cost to your effort.

In a world where businesses are under constant pressure to increase profits, reduce expenses and improve the customer experience, change is the one true constant. Now, with the added challenge of a hybrid workforce, many lenders found that implementing transformational change in operations has become very complex.

There is no one size fits all approach to implementing change. However, we have decades of helping clients transform business. So, we identified seven key elements that engages operations teams early—and keeps them engaged.

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Tackling these essentials in advance helps reduce setbacks such as missed deadlines or added expense. Use our tools below to  position you to drive a successful transformation.

Planning Questionnaire

Go through each question to both answer and to help guide you on prioritizing next steps.

Impact Assessment

  1. Who needs to assess potential impacts from the change?
  2. What information will they need to do a thorough assessment?
  3. How will potential impacts be collated and integrated into the change process?

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

  1. From what areas will you need SMEs?
  2. How much of their time are you likely to need?
  3. What questions will you need answered by SMEs?
  4. Are there specific deliverables the SMEs will need to support?

Culture

  1. What capacity for change does the operation have?
  2. What other changes have recently been implemented or are in progress?
  3. Is the culture inherently accepting of change or resistant to change?
  4. How is the change likely to play out based on your existing culture?

Communication

  1. How are internal communications related to change normally delivered?
  2. Do standing communication channels for change exist already that you should use?
  3. What additional communication channels and routines should be considered given a hybrid/fully remote work environment?
  4. Do individuals in the operation feel empowered to speak freely about impacts of change to them and their roles?

Training

  1. Is management training required to handle all the elements of change?
  2. How will training be developed and who will deliver the training?
  3. What pre- and post-training support will be provided?
  4. How will trainers (on-site & virtual) be engaged to ensure they have the level of understanding needed to drive a successful implementation of the change?

Testing Support

  1. How many users will be needed to support UAT?
  2. What level of testing experience is needed?
  3. How much time will they be away from running their day-to-day job responsibilities?
  4. Are there accommodations needed for testers working remote?

Embedding

  1. How will success be tracked and what measures will be used?
  2. Who will have ownership for tracking these measures?
  3. Who can provide insight into how well the change has been embedded?
  4. What is the best way to influence embedding after delivery?
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Compare Best Practices Against Your Practices

Listed below are change management best practices under each of the headings in the questionnaire above. We encourage you to do a credible challenge exercise and see whether these practices exist in your organization.

Integrating best practices with our clients has helped them avoid unwanted pitfalls and delays to implementation.

Impact Assessment

  • Create detailed impact assessments and hold open discussions throughout the impact assessment process so that questions can be raised and answered quickly
  • Ensure impact assessments are not completed in silos or by inexperienced individuals to avoid misses that can derail a project

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

  • Pull SMEs from the front-line impacted businesses to ensure they are embedded in the current day-to-day process
  • Set clear expectations with SMEs on the time investment and the deliverables expected from them

Culture

  • Review past change and lessons learned from other impact assessments, if applicable, to identify any challenges you may face upfront so you can plan proactively
  • Identify any unintended consequences the change may have on culture, so you can plan proactively how to address with the workforce

Communication

  • Use open forums to gather staff input from the point when the change is being defined all the way through implementation planning and final delivery
  • Document concerns and/or risks and as you take steps to mitigate them
  • Circle back with your team to demonstrate you are acting on their concerns—this encourages more to speak up
  • Engage those who are most vocal in the business and actively seek their thoughts and views to create advocates in them – sometimes these seemingly disruptive staff members can become your strongest advocates

Training

  • Ensure trainers have been engaged in the change itself and are available after implementation to provide ongoing support
  • Assess understanding levels post training and be prepared to act early and often to close any gaps of confusion to process change

Testing Support

  • Confirm with operations that front-line agents are available for testing and be upfront on the amount of time they will be needed to support this critical step
  • Require operations leaders to review and sign-off on test scripts for both accuracy and thoroughness (a sign of a good testing environment, is one that tries to break the system)

Embedding

  • Consider rolling the change out to a smaller population initially so that they can be advocates for the change and can therefore be at the end of the change curve and support others moving through faster
  • Track benefits and measures of success closely and regularly, publishing results to all those engaged in the change
  • Have clear accountability for staff observations post-implementation and a process to address staff concerns/process regression
  • Implement change advocates that reside in the business and are supporters for the specific change you are considering
  • Celebrate key milestones

Implement Change that Sustains

To stay relevant in today’s banking landscape, financial institutions are challenged with implementing change that fosters evolution and growth. But handling that change ineffectively can be costly – incurring exorbitant costs to your bottom line. Early implementation of the operational change strategies we’ve outlined can help you get started—and keep you on track.

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