Making a change to your core lending software should be based on the long-term benefits derived from the new and enhanced technology of a new program. When lending companies undertake software implementations they do not anticipate failure, despite the risks associated with such complex projects. Rather, they plan for success. In evaluating successful implementations we've found five key factors are always present. These five steps can be the difference between success and failure in your implementation.
1. Top management involvement and commitment
2. Adequate resources
3. Clearly defined project requirements
Top management involvement and commitment is key to a successful lending software implementation. If top management is involved and accountable this will transfer through the whole organization and create a favorable atmosphere for change. People tend to resist change and if employees sense from top management any measure of indifference or lack of commitment it could give them the green light to fight against progress. As well as setting the example, top management must also define the expectations. Each employee should know what is expected of them regarding the implementation project and then they should be held accountable for that expectation.
Adequate resources play a vital role in the success and timeliness of implementation. There is a lot of work involved, from both the lending company and the software provider, to accomplish a successful implementation. The equation is simple, adequate resources plus focus equals success. Having the right resources is also critical. For example, utilizing individuals with the most knowledge of your old system is essential. Unfortunately, those who have the most knowledge base are generally those who are also the busiest. It may be hard for them to find time to devote to the implementation project, but it is vital that you find ways to keep them involved.
Clearly defined project requirements are the blueprints. Quality in, quality out, or garbage in, garbage out holds true in a lending software implementation. Even the best-laid plans can lead to failure if frequently changed or not followed. Collaboration between the lending company and the software vendor is essential in the creation and execution of the project requirements.
Training. The best software in the world is useless to those who don’t know how to use it properly and completely. Mastering any software takes time and effort. Don't avoid it. Set expectations and take accountability by measuring progress. The software vendor can provide all the training in the world, but unless the users practice it immediately and continually, mastery will not occur.
Communication is the oxygen of the project and will keep it alive and healthy. If communication stops, the project dies. Not all communication is effective, what is said is not always heard or understood as intended. You see examples of miscommunication every day, in your personal life and in your work life. It takes time and practice to be able to communicate effectively with others. Those companies that can reduce the communication 'GAP' will reduce errors, create a more accurate blueprint of the project requirements and reduce the implementation timeframe. Effective 2-way communication is the keystone of all business relationships.
In summary, I don’t know if there has ever been a completely perfect software implementation, with no bumps or unexpected surprises. Lending software implementations are large in scope and have many moving parts that impact all reaches of the organization but focusing on these five key factors has provided the recipe for success for those lending companies who have followed them.