In this article we cover:
- Gathering business requirements
- Survey available options
- Product demonstrations
- Executive approval
- Implementation planning meetings
- Setting up timelines for process switchover
The most successful business banking operations are those that are well prepared to implement a piece of software that will improve their client service delivery. To take advantage of the automation and scale that software like digital lending systems can provide, you have to set up your organization to address and accept the capabilities that the software provides. It is not easy to run a scalable business banking operation.
For those involved in a procurement project for a business banking software platform, this article provides an overview of the start-to-finish process. For simplicity, we will focus on business lending software as an example to illustrate the procurement process.
Gather Business Requirements
Even before the procurement team sets out to survey the landscape of available digital lending software solutions, you have to gather business requirements from key stakeholders. This will help you to understand what capabilities your bank or financial institution needs.
The process involves speaking with key players across the organization (for example, underwriting, development, product, sales, etc) to understand their needs. For example, talk to the people in charge of online banking or mobile banking at your institution to see how a lending solution might plug into their existing strategy or technology.
Schedule requirements-gathering meetings with stakeholders and ask them about their pain points, what they need to help them move faster and more accurately. Be sure to document the answers.
This opening step is important for two key reasons:having business requirements based on need will help you select the best fit solution and will help with user adoption.
- When you start your research of available lending software solutions, you have a clear understanding of the feature set that is needed to transform your lending practices digitally through best-in-class technology. Never assume you know what other departments need. By talking to people who are doing the job day in and day out, you will uncover a lot of pain points that need to be solved.
- You are preparing employees for the eventual deployment of the software which will help with user adoption when the new lending solution goes live. When your company is encouraging the adoption of the tool, your employees will already be somewhat familiar with it.
It might take multiple meetings with each team or department over the course of a couple of weeks to gather all the business requirements from key stakeholders. If there are multiple members of the procurement team, consider dividing the workload to gather requirements faster. Depending on your company structure and who your ideal customers are, you might have to prioritize certain business requirements ahead of others. Speaking with customers should also be part of your business requirements gathering effort.
Speak with Your Customers
In addition to gathering business requirements from internal stakeholders, it’s a good idea to speak with existing banking customers to understand what their specific business needs are (i.e., what banking products do they need) and how they want to conduct business. For example, knowing if your customers want to use a mobile app. Not only will this create an exceptional customer experience, because they will feel like you are listening to their needs, but you will uncover additional requirements that you might not have otherwise when talking to internal stakeholders.
Your business banking platform needs to meet the needs of your business customers. Whether they are startups or small businesses, they all have different cash flow needs, and sometimes asking them directly can be a good approach. After all, you are improving your lending operation to better serve them.
There are multiple tactics to use to gather business requirements from your customers. You can use a focus group (either in-person or virtual) to speak with customers live, conduct a research project using internal and external data to form a thesis that states customer needs, or send out a survey to all customers via email. There are pros and cons to each approach, and depending on timing you can use multiple tactics to gather a wide range of data. Seek to understand in the broadest way possible what kind of user experiences they truly enjoy, and take note of the features that get highlighted so you can use that as a benchmark when vetting your platform vendors during procurement.
Whether you are a retail bank or corporate bank or another type of financial institution, you will need to understand any potential laws or regulations around contacting your customers for the purpose of customer research, so be sure to reach out to your legal department for guidance on how best to engage.
Research Available Platform Options
After you have your business requirements locked in, it’s time to review the landscape of available business lending software providers. Although you are likely in an influencer position as part of the procurement team, you need to approach this step understanding that the key decision makers do not have the time to dive into every detail from every single provider.
The goal here is to narrow your list down to the top 2 or 3 vendors. List out key functionality, and be able to communicate how it will or will not meet the needs of key stakeholders across the organization. Remind them that you conducted business requirements gathering sessions to deeply understand the needs of every business unit. When your business is business loans, and you need a digital solution to power your workflows, it’s important to be as detailed and meticulous as possible when presenting your shortlist.
When moving to a digital banking platform, and rolling out a new banking experience for your customers, there will be new terminology that internal employees will need to get used to. To streamline the decision-making process, consider creating a terminology guide to help those making the decision. For example, a commercial banking executive will know what ACH means but they might not be familiar with the term API and what that means for technology integrations related to the new banking software.
Reviewing case studies from the websites of business banking platform providers is a great source of information for your search. Case studies will show customer stories that detail where they started and where they wound up after implementing the software. These testimonials are key when presenting your findings to the executive team because they like to know that similar companies have gone through the same process only to come out successful.
For an example of customer case studies, head over to the case study section of the Biz2X website. Our case studies highlight our customers and how they have successfully implemented our wide range of credit and business banking solutions. Visit our featured case studies page to learn more.
Understand the Compromises You Need to Make
Unfortunately not every fintech solution will meet the needs of everyone. It is important to understand any potential limitations of the software and inform the stakeholders who it will impact. In the financial services industry, there is a very wide range of technology and banking services that need to be considered, so ultimately you need to decide on the lending software platform that most closely meets your needs.
If you started this process by conducting business requirements gathering sessions, it will be easy to follow up with those teams to give them a heads up on some features that might not be available. This information will help them prepare for the transition and they won’t be upset because a feature they anticipated being there is not.
When you identify a product limitation, be open with the vendor and tell them because they might already know about the issue and have a plan to solve it. Also, they can share how their customers get around the potential limitation. Other times, you’ll find that you can get a better fit with a different vendor instead.
Listen to Product Demonstrations
When moving to a single platform to meet your banking needs, you will need vendors to give you a product demo. This is where you and the procurement team can see firsthand how the solution works in real-time. Reference your business requirements during the product demos. It’s a good idea to provide your business requirements directly to the vendors to have them review and see if they can meet your needs.
Consider inviting a select group of stakeholders from the business requirements gathering sessions to product demos. They will be able to confirm that the capabilities of the business lending platform being demoed are going to meet their needs. This confirmation will assist you during the executive decision-making process as the key decision makers will likely want to know that everyone is bought in and in agreement.
When it comes to features that are not included, ask the vendor how they go about adding new features. Understanding their willingness to work with you and their product workflows will give you a sense of when missing features might be added to the product. You can even ask them about the size of their development teams and how they prioritize new feature requests from their other customers.
Gain Executive Approval
After all the work has been put in by the procurement team, you will need to present your findings to the executive team for approval. Review your presentation with co-workers a few times and have them ask questions before your approval meeting. Your entire digital ecosystem is changing, and this is a big decision, so be prepared for a lot of questions from the executive team.
Buying committees are likely to be involved in the decision too. Buying committees can have multiple stakeholders from multiple departments that weigh in on the process. Many executives want to let the buying committee debate out the possible paths before weighing in with their point of view. Going through this motion, and making adjustments to the final executive presentation based on the input from the buying committee, will likely help you get approval from the decision maker because they are going to ask about it if a buying committee is involved.
Schedule Your Implementation Planning Meetings
Once you have selected a business banking platform, it’s time to hold preparation meetings with underwriters, relationship managers, sales, and all the other key stakeholders from across the org. It might take several preparation meetings to ensure everyone understands the new banking solution and is onboard with the change that is coming.
If you are migrating from a different piece of software, you will need to prepare transitional memos and training videos to help people understand how to accomplish their daily tasks on the new platform.
In these preparation meetings, consider discussing the timing of the roll-out and when you anticipate the new banking platform going live.
Setting up timelines for process switchover
If departments are still doing manual procedures that will now be replaced by the software platform, make sure you are reaching out to those personnel and helping them understand that they will have ownership of transitioning those outdated processes (e.g. Excel-based financial operations can be brought onto the platform fully). Work closely with these departments and key business owners to understand the timing of the transition to the new platform.
Working closely with the vendor is also key. Typically, the vendor will assign a project manager to your account to help with initial project timelines and to provide ongoing support to ensure timelines are met. In the event that there is a delay, on either side, there is an open line of communication to make the appropriate adjustments to the timeline.
Summary: Choosing a Business Banking Platform
There are many things a business lending operation must do when implementing a new piece of digital lending software. Let’s recap our six things:
- Gathering business requirements: speaking with internal stakeholders and customers to understand their needs. Translate those needs into business requirements.
- Survey available options: survey the landscape of available vendors and start to document their features. Understand any limitations.
- Product demonstrations: Have the business banking platform vendors demo their products for you and key stakeholders. Ask questions about your business requirements.
- Executive approval: Present your findings on the top 2 or 3 vendors and highlight features, terms, roll-out timeline, and anticipated impact of the new digital banking system.
- Preparation meetings: Meet with departments letting them know the decision on a new lending solution has been made and the expectations of timing.
- Setting up timelines for process switchover: Work with departments on the implementation timeline and understand when old processes that are now being handled by the software will be sunset.
After the new banking platform has been deployed, reach out to your employees via survey to see how they are liking it and using it. Collecting this feedback can help further improve user adoption and inform the vendor of additional features you would like to see added to future releases.
Find a Business Lending Platform
Biz2X is the platform chosen for business lending at banks and financial institutions around the world. Lenders choose our platform because they want to transform their business lending practices digitally in the most successful way possible. Our approach as a technology provider is different because we know business lending inside and out. Biz2X is built on the insights and expertise that came from a decade-plus of Biz2Credit’s lending experience. That’s why the platform works so well for lenders of all sizes.
We invite you to bring any questions you may have to Biz2X. Reach out to schedule a demo, drop us an email, or reach out to a platform specialist on our team to learn how Biz2X can boost your bank’s business lending IQ and help you make shrewder lending decisions more quickly and efficiently than you’ve ever made them in the past.