As technology has assumed a larger role in bank operations, keeping pace with that technology has become a full time job for bankers. Technology has certainly enabled Easthampton Savings Bank to meet the increased regulatory and competitive demands. It has also increased the number of systems deployed at our bank by 360% in the last seven years.
This pace of change has spurred the need for project management resources and created a whole new category of system implementation to manage. Maintaining an above average efficiency ratio throughout this evolution has been the result of teamwork, a willingness to challenge the status quo and a disciplined project methodology.
Teamwork has enabled our bank to accomplish complex technology projects such as upgrading to a new .Net version of COCC’s core processing system, switching electronic banking vendors, installing a new cash management platform and a new phone system in the past year, all without skipping a beat. The process begins with vendor selection aided by our technology partner – COCC, whose commitment to best of breed solutions and best practices informs us at every major step.
The key to our bank’s success with projects on this scale depends on communication, a commitment to quality and a positive approach to accepting and embracing change. For each project, a cross-functional team of employees charged with ownership of the outcome is formed. They work with their peers to identify specific project goals and they utilize a project implementation methodology that has proven successful.
At the start of each project, team members work with COCC to understand systems features and to arrange for early training of a team of bank “subject matter experts”. Armed with appropriate information about the new system and a goal of finding creative ways to increase efficiency and customer service, the team examines the bank’s current practices, challenges the status quo and recommends change; this method empowers the team through ownership.
Achieving our goal of executing large scale change that is seamless to the customer requires discipline and strict adherence to our project implementation methodology. This includes custom training sessions, process review, procedures documentation and testing as well as practice before hand. Each department is given a training workstation to utilize, they log practice times and measure progress towards our goal. Along the way, we have fun with contests and special events. By the time the system launch takes place the staff has begun to feel comfortable and disruption to customer service and bank efficiency is minimized, contributing to a high quality outcome.
The underlying theme of making the events positive, holding the team of individuals responsible and engaging the organization in the attainment of a specific goal is what drives our success. Rapid change is here to stay. Going forward, this disciplined and positive approach will keep Easthampton Savings Bank successful.
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