Mankikar, Deputy GM, Shamrao Vithal Co-operative Bank, shares some practical
tips on implementing quick, painless and successful change management
The key to implementing or introducing a new technology or process is to convince
people that it will make their work easier. Show them the benefits brought about
by the change and they automatically become open to the idea. Their mindset
begins to change and ultimately shifts to acceptance.
Change is in the mind. Never change out of fear, but never fear to change.
The Mindset Of A Co-Operative Bank
In the co-operative banking sector, IT usage is usually on the lower side. Therefore,
introducing change in IT is a major challenge.
Until recently, there were people who were not comfortable using a mouse, so
moving from DOS to Windows was a painful process.
Implementing the in-house core banking solution was done in phases. It had to
be started with one branch and slowly expanded to other branches. People were
given time to adjust and learn. They had to understand the advantages of the
system in order to appreciate and accept it.
It took four months to cover all our 46 branches in Maharashtra, Karnataka and
Goa. But eventually the strategy paid off. Once feedback started coming from
branches that had implemented the core banking solution, the remaining branches
began to demand that it be implemented for them as well.
The main challenge faced by any CIO is to align technology with business needs.
Our bank took the decision to develop software in-house to reduce dependence
on vendors for servicing and business needs.
Initially there was a lot of scepticism. It was felt that software development
was for IT pundits and bankers should stick to their core competency. But early
on we realised what IT professionals really dothey come to you, understand
your business, develop an IT solution, and sell you the same thing. But the
same software can be made in a better way by a banker having IT competency because
in-house teams know the pitfalls and areas that need improvement.
Thats why a team from the bank itself was groomed and sent for training.
The finished product was a software designed by the bank itself. The team knew
what was required and how to put it in place. When the core solution was being
implemented, sceptics within the organisation had to appreciate that the job
was indeed well done. Currently, the in-house banking solution is deployed at
all 46 branches and has evolved to the extent that virtually everything required
for banking is covered in it.
Today, other co-operative banks approach us for guidance on implementing core
banking solutions in their banks. They are more comfortable talking to us because
we talk to them as bankers and not as software vendors. We understand their
needs and difficulties in implementation because we have already gone through
Proactive change management works wonders in attracting
and retaining customers. After all,only a happy customer is a committed
Proactive change management works wonders in attracting and
retaining customers. After all, only a happy customer is a committed one.
We encourage people to come forward with suggestions to improve banking services.
A committee has been set up to review suggestions, and evaluate and discuss
merits, costs and impacts. Any practical suggestions are forwarded to the IT
department for further development.
A simple but successful innovation was introduced in fee collection activities
for schools. Many banks have extension counters in schools, but they focus only
on banking activities. Going a step further we offered to manage the entire
fee collection module of the school. The school was free from the entire fee
collection process and obtained other direct benefits including reconciliation.
The bank had a happy customer without offering anything new or something that
was not a part of its core competency.
Initially, when ATM facilities were introduced, customers resisted the concept,
so some ATM cards were made and issued to the counter clerk. A customer wanting
to withdraw his money was given the card. He then went to the ATM and got his
money. This reduced work pressure on the counter clerk and cashier. At the same
time, the customer got his money faster and did not have to wait in a queue.
Even without taking ATM cards themselves, customers were getting ATM facilities.
It introduced them to the benefits of ATM, encouraged them to use it, familiarised
them with the process, and changed their mindsets about ATM facilities.
In co-operative banks, if people wanted to shift the account to another branch,
the entire set of documents had to travel from one branch to the other. A new
account was opened there only after the documents arrived. We developed an account
opening and closing system to make the process instantaneous.
Another example. The trader community used to crowd the bank during clearing
hours to know the status of their cheques, so a small utility was developed
for them. All they had to do was dial up a number from anywhere and they received
the latest information about the cheques that had arrived for clearing. They
had a choice to get the information either via e-mail or as voice input. This
facility was in addition to the regular balance inquiry and account statement.
Banking On Change
Banks need to change because they need to be competitive and give service to
the customers faster, on demand, and at competitive prices. Taking cognisance
of their needs and anticipating them lead to customer satisfaction.
Giving satisfactory service is definitely appreciated and translates into customer
loyalty. A bank must have a process in place for fast decision-making if it
has to survive and retain the edge despite the cut-throat competition of today.
Whether it is a process for loan disbursement or anything else, a quick decision
and quicker implementation of it helps provide customers with services at the
right place and the right time, 24x7.
CIOs must convince the management that change is essential. Most managements
lay down business goals and tell the IT department how to achieve them in a
given time frame.
Successful change management is a joint effort, possible only because of the
managements commitment towards it. CIOs have to be receptive to change
as technology keeps on changing. They have their own limitations about budgets
and industry constraints, hence they cannot keep changing or updating equipment
and software every time something different comes along. Changes must be made
judiciously and must last for at least three years.
Second, it is crucial for CIOs to keep pace with change. Changes are triggered
by the market, industry, business compulsions and bold management initiatives.
Ultimately, the customer matters. If the customer is not happy then the company
loses business. Only a happy customer is a committed customer.
Finally, a CIO must focus on the companys core strength. He must put himself
in the users shoes and experience things from the users perspective.
He should consider different users from clerks to officers to managers. Taking
their various needs into account, the software should be designed accordingly.
As told to Kumar Dawada