Insights from The Lab

Five Essential Process Improvement Ideas in Banking

Article by : The Lab Consulting

Our last article concerned a case study about the HR department of a big bank and its efforts to cut costs. This article presents another case study, but a wholly new angle. This was about making essential process improvements throughout a bank’s marketing services operation. It’s full of valuable takeaways, so let’s dive in.

This is the story of a huge (80,000 employees serving 25 million customers) Canada-based bank. Their marketing arm, serving both the U.S. and Canada, was struggling to increase both its productivity and agility. Thus their wish-list, when they reached out to The Lab, was extensive. They sought:

  • Standardization of their branded marketing process
  • Reduced cycle times for each campaign
  • Elimination of wasteful activities among 300 employees

As you probably have guessed if you’ve read any of these blogs, this bank’s search for process-improvement ideas excluded one big element: Technology. Fortunately, The Lab was equal to the task; non-technology improvement is what we’re all about.

Over the course of 16 weeks, we analyzed their marketing process. We compared their activities to our proprietary marketing-operations templates. We uncovered more than 270 improvements to be implemented. And sure enough, none of them required any new technology (or the cost thereof).

These improvements spanned five different areas of focus:

Process improvement ideas in banking Number 1: Start with non-standard work

When organizations get big, sometimes positions can get blurred. That was the case here:

  • The bank’s marketing operation lacked standard guidelines for roles and responsibilities.
  • There were no submission or intake templates for each gate in the marketing process.
  • The decision-making process was cumbersome.
  • Accountability was uncertain.

Fixing this required a deft touch. We removed the unnecessary activities while preserving adherence to campaign requirements. And we helped the bank to implement standardized metrics for improving accountability and monitoring performance.

If you’re looking to boost operational efficiency in the banking sector, too, these types of marketing-department changes might inspire you.

Process improvement ideas in banking Number 2: Database optimization

The QuickBase database which the marketing services operation employed was not being used to its fullest potential:

  • Processes varied by product group.
  • Information captured in the database was inconsistently applied to manage campaigns.
  • Similarly, the data was ineffectively used to manage staff.

Is the value of your high-tech database being squandered by inefficient processes? That was the case here. The Lab was able to identify more than a half-dozen remediation actions, including rework of the database training requirements, ways to ensure consistent documentation of campaigns, and building accountability into the actual QuickBase metrics, to name a few.

Process improvement ideas in banking Number 3: Fix broken staffing models

This was an area with classic cascading consequences. Campaigns weren’t prioritized by complexity. As a result, work assignments failed to account for the skill level required to execute them.

The bank needed a simple, quantitative staffing model that would match workflow volumes to available capacity, productivity targets, and required support. That’s what we helped them to create and implement.

Again, this is a seemingly simple issue that often hides in plain sight, and requires no technology to resolve. Is your firm’s staffing model a ripe opportunity to improve operations efficiency in banking?

Process improvement ideas in banking Number 4: Better reporting

In both the U.S. and Canada, this bank’s marketing services arm was starving for concise and user-friendly management operating reports (MORs). Not many KPIs were needed, but they were essential:

  • Cost/volume
  • Productivity
  • Service
  • Quality

Once these were implemented, the reports skyrocketed in value. They provided real-time data, linked to defined business outcomes. Finally, they were useful tools for improving both team and individual performance.

Are your MORs delivering similar value? Do they currently represent a way to improve banking services and operational efficiency?

Process improvement ideas in banking Number 5: Management routines makeover

You might think that marketing management spent the bulk of their time producing marketing campaigns. But you’d be mistaken. We discovered that they spent (“wasted”?) more than half of their time attending meetings, preparing for meetings, or “fighting fires.”

Meetings needed to be streamlined. So did their attendance. These were essential first steps toward banking operations process improvement.

Operational excellence in financial services: The results

Each of the 270 improvements we identified may have been small. But their overall impact was significant. The bank’s Marketing Services operations witnessed a capacity improvement of 20 to 26 percent. Savings hit $13.5 million. ROI was greater than six-fold. The entire project broke even in just six months. And most impressive of all, this organization was now able to produce more than 250 additional campaigns each year—a tremendous service to the rest of the enterprise.

Are you seeking process improvement ideas in banking? Consider The Lab. We’ve helped scores of banks with cost cutting and operational improvement, thanks to our non-technology solutions, our unique self-funding engagement model, and irresistible money-back guarantee. Learn more about how we work here.