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Overcoming Potential Obstacles To Commercial Onboarding

This Month In Commercial Banking

The bank has just landed a new commercial customer. That’s great – now what? 

Corporations generally include in their selection criteria the resources a bank will need to implement the services it sells. But all too often, even when stated staffing and resources are sufficient, banks fall far behind schedule. Along with raising the risk of failing to meet a new customer’s expectations, a delay can postpone incoming revenue to the bank. 

Here are the five most common obstacles a corporation encounters when trying to implement bank services. The list derives from the decades of experience amassed by Curinos’ Treasury Strategies, the firm’s corporate treasury consulting arm, while helping its corporate clients get onboarded with new bank services.  

  • Project staffing. Most treasury departments run lean and focus mainly on liquidity management and transaction processing. Rarely do they have the staff for large-scale projects. 
  • Multi-department coordination. Because of the expansive scope of the treasury function, changes and new processes require varying degrees of involvement from other departments, including accounting, IT and the lines of business. 
  • IT resources and year-end delays. Support from IT is critical to integrating new banks or technology tools but getting into the IT queue can often be challenging and long wait lists are not uncommon. Compounding the issue, many corporations and banks impose IT blackout periods at year end, which can hold up an onboarding project for weeks. 
  • Evolving organizational priorities. Changing or reordering priorities at the senior level can divert resources from treasury projects. The most common example is the acquisition of a large company that needs to be integrated into the parent quickly.  
  • No project charter or imperfect project plan. Without a project charter that communicates to other departments the scope and timing of the treasury initiative, confusion and misallocation of resources often arise. Without a detailed project plan, a corporate might fail to notice delays and the coordination needed for successful implementation.  

To remove these obstacles, banks would be well advised to adopt these five responses. When taken together, they almost always lead to successful commercial onboarding. 

  • Make sure internal and external resources are sufficient. This starts with and depends on the explicit, consistent support of senior management. It also means considering outside help if relying exclusively on internal resources would delay implementation.   
  • Dedicate an individual to oversee the project, invested with the authority to escalate issues to senior management. Often, the timing and effectiveness of onboarding projects are compromised because the concerns of the people closest to them go unnoticed or unheeded.  
  • Circulate a project charter, with a high-level timeline, to communicate what’s being done, why it’s being done and how it affects other functions within the organization. A charter can help drive home the project’s meaning and relevance to departments and personnel likely to feel the impacts.  
  • Create and maintain a detailed project plan that naturally emanates from the charter, and send weekly updates to all departments that are involved. Along with the Gantt chart, perhaps the most important component of a project plan is communication. To understand their roles and value to the project’s success, key people need to be kept in the loop.   
  • Insist on thorough end-to-end testing and user acceptance testing (UAT) before putting any new systems or processes into operation. The importance of testing can’t be overstated. Glitches in the early going can compromise the credibility of the entire initiative.  

Applying project management best practices to overcoming the five common obstacles to service implementation is a win-win. The new commercial customer will quickly realize the benefits it expected when it made its selection, and the bank will realize accelerated revenue from a satisfied customer.  

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