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Think Big, Start Small: Planning for Digital Transformation Within Your Means

By 08.17.18
Reading time: 4 minutes

In today’s climate, many industries within Financial Services face a common scenario: trying to compete amongst national institutions with limited resources. As you look to revolutionize business processes, one factor that is important to consider is the adoption of modern technology. Historically, smaller financial institutions that are beginning their journey to the digital landscape aren’t replacing a particular system, they’re making up for a lack of technology in order to fill a void that larger competitors are already doing well.

The use of modern technology, such as cloud applications, enables organizations to adapt to business changes faster. This is a part of the promise of the digital transformation that is at the forefront of business management today. One common cloud technology playing a major role in financial services transformation is Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Cloud-based technologies enable the automation of manual processes but more importantly provide a path to that modernization with greater speed and flexibility.

Larger financial institutions have deeper pockets and bigger budgets for this technology modernization, but they are also larger and harder to change. Smaller financial institutions can leverage the same benefits, such as adaptability, on a smaller and more affordable scale and realize the same competitive advantages with a potentially shorter time to value realization.

Laying Down The Journey Plan

You need a robust system of engagement to effectively manage all the moving parts of your institution in order to be successful. Larger financial institutions embrace the concept of a holistic CRM. The reality of implementing a luxury car platform on a compact car budget is clear. Instead, it is important to plan like you’re a bigger institution while executing within your means. Learn to strategically scale technology to compete in a way the bigger players are leveraging CRM. To do this, you need to answer a few questions as a means to get started – thinking big, while still acting appropriately small:

What are your Drivers?

In the beginning, you need to answer what it is you’re going to do with CRM. Have a defined reason as to why you are making this investment. Be clear about the end state. There are three drivers institutions typically go after when they embark on this journey: improve the member/customer experience, efficiency planning, and organizational growth. These can be long term and short term and morph over time from one to another. You can have a mix of drivers in your business case, but it can be useful if you pick one driver as the prime – it helps to set direction without the question of priority.

What are you trying to change?

Determine what you need to be doing differently. Change is fully realized by identifying factors that need improvement such as a need to become more intelligent with the use of data, a better 360 degree customer view to drive experience, or an improved ability to effectively share information through elevated collaboration. These are the business processes that are lagging behind and in the way of achieving your drivers. Getting these transformation factors clear and defined are essential in this first step of the planning. Ultimately, they become the foundation for CRM program planning and make it clear where to begin.

What are the capabilities that will be augmented?

When you get to this question you more clearly know what you are trying to achieve and what you’re trying to change. Now you must expose the capabilities that CRM will be augmenting. One of the foundational tenets of digital transformation is to find those parts of your business that you can move from physical to digital. This is the time to start uncovering those. For example, perhaps you choose to improve the speed of service in your Service Center by focusing on case management. Use CRM to define the problem, track changes, share information, and record the solution digitally rather than manually with forms and sticky notes. With this data, you will be able to identify where velocity can be increased, how effective your users are at collaborating, and you’ll have the information necessary to advance your Service Center.

Look for those areas where moving from physical to digital you can achieve the factors you are attempting to change, whether intelligence, collaboration or velocity of performance. Chances are you have a list already, but the trick is to break that list down into priorities. Start by “crawling” – address an area like case management transformation first and then work your way through that list until your CRM program is “running”. This leads us to the next recommendation – building out your journey plan.


When you have answered these preceding questions you’ll be able to clearly communicate your plan to the entire institution. When everyone understands the plan, you can define the entire journey. It is important to timeline when each department gets incorporated. Transparent journey planning is important because as an entire enterprise, everyone knows what they need and when they’re getting involved to prevent duplicative initiatives. It’s not going to happen all at once but by visualizing where everyone’s position is in the plan gives recognition to what each unit is receiving.

Some will want to go from walk to run right away. In order to be successful, you need to have a plan in place that sets the appropriate expectations. Prioritization of the introduction of improved capabilities is the key here – with input from across the organization to drive buy-in. When you intently crawl, walk, and then run, you will be positioning your institution for secure growth within CRM and you will have a greater likelihood of the system working correctly for your entire team making the most of your investment. Silverline’s perspective is based on best practices acquired from over 1,100 implementations. Interested in learning more? Contact us today!

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