Case Study – Project Management and Consensus Building
Credit File Imaging
Each lending group organized their credit files differently; processing procedures were not standardized; communication between business units was strained. Lending groups saw imaging as more work that they didn't have time to do.
Driven by Business Unit - Supported by Executive Management
After many years of IT unsuccessfully promoting imaging, one lending group asked where they could store some files they had scanned. I helped this group to be the first one to using the enterprise imaging system and they became major proponents of the system to other lending groups. They showed how imaging actually saved time and effort for the lending groups. At my suggestion, they also demonstrated the system to executive management to get senior level support.
Facilitated Collaboration and Consensus Building
I hosted a full day collaboration session, inviting employees from all areas that might use the imaged documents, including lending groups, credit analysts, outside loan review, auditors, and operations staff. I asked a member of executive management to open the session letting everyone know how important this project was. Many employees from different departments had talked with each other on the phone or by email, but had never met in person. The face to face meeting helped reinforce the need to work together.
The initial lending group to use the imaging system presented a demonstration of how they were using the system and how it saved them time. IT answered technical questions and concerns about reliability, security, backups, and the scanning process. Both groups managed expectations by letting everyone know that, initially, imaging the loan documents was more work - but, in the long run it saved significant time.
Next, we asked other departments how the imaged documents might be used to save time or improve efficiency. What obstacles did they encounter in the existing (non-imaged) process? Instead of faxing or inter-office mailing copies of documents, could they use imaged documents instead? What changes would be required to the document layouts, procedures, or policies? Through this collaborative process, the different groups came together to develop new ways to order and process the loan documents.
Ordering loan documents became an electronic process - through a combination of email and imaged documents. Clearing loan and documentation exceptions also became an electronic process. External loan review became interested in performing remote reviews using imaged documents.
Formation of a Permanent Workgroup
This first collaborative meeting led to the formation of a permanent workgroup, including employees from all areas of the bank. Again, employees who often talked on the phone, but had never met were able to interact face-to-face. This helped improve relationships among the lending groups and back office business units. This group meets regularly to handle imaging and operational issues and develop a consensus on how to handle issues as they arise. New enterprise wide standards and procedures were developed including, in some cases, changes to lending policies.
Regular Status Reports
To keep everyone aware of what was going on, a monthly overall status report was published. The report showed last month's results, next month's plan, revisions to the overall schedule, obstacles, successes, and reasons for change to the overall project schedule. When obstacles were encountered, publishing them in this report highlighted what needed to be done and brought together the correct resources to get them resolved. The report was kept concise by using bullet points and conscientiously limiting it to two pages.
Through strong project management and collaboration, this project remained on schedule and was owned by the business units. A self-sustaining group was formed that owns the imaging process, makes standards, and provides training to other business units. Changes in roll-out schedules, policies, procedures, and training were better received by business units because they were coming from their peers, not IT. Finally, relationships between front-line and back-office business units improved as these groups worked together to develop mutual processes. New friendships among employees were formed as people met for the first time.