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How being a nimble and agile building society can help your digital transformation

A successful building society digital transformation requires a good technology partner, and a nimble and agile approach to working together.

A successful building society digital transformation requires a good technology partner, and a nimble and agile approach to working together.

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1st March 2021

Garry Larner

Building societies are doubling down on digital transformation, hastened largely because of Covid-19. As catalysts go, it’s a strong one. I wrote about the challenges for building societies two years ago ahead of the Building Societies Annual Conference, a year before the coronavirus pandemic, and advocated for a meaningful intensity to getting digital transformation underway.

However, there’s still a lot to be done, particularly around what happens beyond recognising that change needs to happen. What happens, for instance, when your digital transformation begins in earnest? Are you ready for it?

I’m delighted to report that ieDigital’s work with Dudley Building Society led to the launch of an online services solution for its members. It’s this sort of success story from an adaptable building society that should set the tone, so let’s look at some of the ingredients that contribute to a successful technology partnership.

Adaptability litmus test

Of the many benefits a building society has over traditional financial incumbents, I often highlight size and nimbleness as being top of the list. If you’re operating a cumbersome, bureaucratic firm, you’re going to find it difficult to work with others. The ability to understand how the process will work is important because it’s going to be fairly new to you. Not only will there be business systems to change and adapt to being digital, people and roles will change too. The more adaptable and agile you are in the first place, the clearer the project will be from the outset.

Speed of process is a slightly different beast. It may be that the role of business analyst (as highlighted in a post published in December 2020) isn’t something you have. Yet, this role is vital: “The BA is the bridge that connects complex software ideas and client outcomes, without which leads to scope creep, budget overrun and project abandonment.”

And project abandonment is a sad outcome for many businesses, especially when many of the pitfalls that lead to abandonment are relatively minor. Having an analyst present who acts as the operations liaison between you and your chosen technology partner is fundamental for ensuring an efficient project. When both parties can see clear business rules, and what needs to go where and when, incremental stages can be signed off early and the project can fly.

Tackling unfamiliar project hurdles

The ability to adapt quickly to change is one thing, but understanding newfangled concepts is another. This is why strong communication is imperative. As your building society digital transformation journey begins, you’ll come across technologies, design elements and infrastructures you haven’t seen before. The need for a symbiotic relationship with your technology partner is crucial to building trust and mutual respect for what needs to occur.

A building society is generally accustomed to providing branch-based services, not digital. The sudden shift into thinking about digital processes is daunting, so these are conversations that should happen very early, and regularly.

Onboarding verification, for example, will have to happen without a branch. This is a big discussion! What technologies should be used? What compliance protocols need to be considered? What business processes need to link together to ensure the new digital environment works for members, and who’s responsible for overseeing progress? Have these discussions and many more before you break ground.

Keep your eye on the outcome

The essential thing to remember is that building society members want simply, friendly services, and efficiently provided if at all possible. Don’t we all?! This is an opportunity to deliver services that are unique to online, such as savings goals and budgeting tools, to help members manage their finances better.

By leaning on your nimble credentials and relative agility, you can achieve your digital and business transformation quickly. Become bogged down by red tape and an overly cautious approach, you stand to lose more than a foothold in an ever-increasing digital world. You may lose your members, too.

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