News flash: The greatest opportunity for process improvement is already sitting inside your bank, nestled in a corner of SQL server databases, Visual Basic code and Microsoft browsers – the intranet!
In my recent travels, I’ve seen a lot of bankers putting their corporate intranets on steroids. Remember when banks first started to play with the intranet? We put the phone directory online and declared victory. (“We will save $914.17 per year on reduced paper costs.”) Next, we took our stale, boring operating procedures and moved them from Word file formats to HTML. The result? No one read those policies with their browsers any more than they read them when they lived in notebooks with coffee-stained covers.
But the wimpy days of intranet are over, Gonzomongers. These days, bankers around the country are knee-deep in transforming their corporate intranets into souped-up, automated workflow platforms. When bankers ask me what’s hot in technology, I ignore stuff like bill pay, smart cards, and CRM and talk more about the “dirty fingernail” process improvements occurring deep inside banking organizations.
So let’s take a tour around the industry and check in on some GonzoBankers who are blazing new trails with the intranet:
Stop 1 – Stillwater, Oklahoma: The enterprise pipeline report
David Dietz, chief information officer of Stillwater National Bank, has used his intranet to streamline loan officer pipeline tracking. Each week, loan officers enter on a simple intranet form prospective commercial deals including deal size and expected closing dates. This report can be generated by management in real time for both sales and liquidity management purposes. The treasury group loves it because they can plan for large loan fundings. Loan officers love it because it did away with paper reporting and Excel tracking and puts all deal information onto a single database. Bravo, David Dietz!
Stop 2 – Fargo, North Dakota: The “Solutions Zone”
Pat Staples, senior vice president of market development at Community First Bankshares, has turned her bank’s intranet into a mongo sales resource. Pat and her marketing team have created an online “Solutions Zone” that is actively used by all sales and service employees. The Solutions Zone organizes all product materials, sales tools and marketing kits into a user-friendly Internet portal. Employees on the front line can quickly and easily access the information they need to do a better job of selling and answering questions for customers. For instance, sales professionals can access specific prospect lists for each bank location. This has reduced special requests for prospect lists into the marketing department by a whopping 90 percent. Instead of being organized by function or department, this area of Community First’s intranet is organized by specific product solutions. The key success factor for the Solutions Zone has been keeping the interface simple and user-friendly. Can I get a Gonzo “hoo-ahhhh” for Ms. Staples?
Stop 3: Bowling Green, Ohio: An “Envoy” to process improvement
Phil Clinard, SVP of the Change Management office at Sky Financial, has used his intranet to go after improving nuts-and-bolts operating processes. Using the Web interface to Fiserv CSCS‘s contact management application, Sky has automated virtually every branch form that is routed to back office functions. Now employees complete simple e-forms on what Sky calls their “Envoy” intranet system. Data from Envoy forms is captured into the CSCS database, which allows all processes to be tracked by completion date and person responsible. Phil has used Envoy to successfully handle OFAC reporting – required customer identification elements are captured on an Envoy form and available as an audit trail within the central database. Can I get an “amen” for Mr. Clinard?
Stop 4: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: The help desk that really cares!
David Westman and his technology team at MidFirst Bank have effectively leveraged intranet technology to heighten service quality from the IT help desk. Utilizing the Web version of HEAT help desk software from FrontRange Solutions, MidFirst now routes all help desk requests through its corporate intranet. The requests are captured in a SQL database for simplified tracking and online status reporting. In addition, after a help desk item is closed out, the user who requested the item receives an automated email “customer satisfaction” survey. Any surveys that come to the help desk that do not score their service experience as “satisfactory” receive a personal phone call from User Support Manager Brad Berkley. Nice touch! MidFirst also tracks its quantitative help desk satisfaction scores on a monthly basis. Free beers for all the gang at MidFirst!
Stop 5: Indiana, Pennsylvania: A turnkey approach to content management and workflow
David Ruddock at S&T Bancorp has gotten so fired up about his corporate intranet, he’s decided to develop a turnkey offering, eBusiness Content Manager (eBCM), and market it to other banks. Ruddock’s team developed the intranet content management solution internally a few years back when they found well-known applications such as Vignette too costly and cumbersome for an organization of S&T’s size. eBCM was designed so designated administrators update all intranet content regularly without IT or marketing involvement. Here are some cool things David shared about S&T’s intranet:
Stop 6: Tulsa, Oklahoma: Who wants to be a millionaire?
Mike Elvir, chief information officer at BOK Financial, has been very pleased with a module on BOK’s intranet called “REGIS.” It is a system that replaced manually generated GL entries, of which the bank processes more than 140,000/month! This has greatly streamlined and improved the quality of G/L entry throughout the company, and has also reduced the company’s fraud risk. In the old days, BOK struggled like most banks with number transposition and valid but incorrect customer or GL entries – either at origination or encoding. As Elvir observes: “Tracing back the G/L ticket to the origin required handwriting analysis skills beyond most clerks’ ability. Sometimes it was impossible to tell which department or clerk originated the entry, and descriptions were often illegible.”
With REGIS, each employee has a profile tied to his or her sign-on and job description; the profile contains a list of accounts the employee is entitled to use as well as dollar limits. The REGIS intranet application automatically records the employee’s ID and name, the date and time, and the description – which is automatically driven from the tran code. The system ensures that the account is valid and will even generate the correct offsetting entry in many cases. If a transaction is over the employee’s limit, it automatically interfaces to the bank’s email system and sends the transaction up the approval chain (which is also in the individual’s profile) for approval. According to Elvir, “The people using it love it.”
Now for the funny part. Gonzo readers may ask how BOK came up with REGIS for this intranet application. According to Elvir, the system was conceived and designed during the height of the popularity of the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” television show. During the presentation for approving the system’s development, it was pointed out that the system would save the company more than $1 million dollars. Someone at the meeting shouted out “Who wants to be a millionaire?” and in the ensuing discussion, management decided to name the system after the show’s host. Elvir remembers that the name “Philbin” did not get anyone’s interest. Way to kill those GL tickets, Mr. Elvir!
Ladies and gentlemen… start your browsers
As you can see, GonzoBankers, the potential for your bank’s intranet is only limited by your creativity and ability to get business areas involved in developing new processes and intranet content. This is no easy task. Every department is busy and making intranets user friendly takes careful design at the corporate level. However, on a relative basis, intranet initiatives are cheap, and they provide tangible near-term improvements to the bank’s operating environment.
2004 is a great year to re-architect your intranet and get busy with automated work flow improvements.