Change management can unlock transformational success 21 January 2022 112

Vincent Chatard, Chief Operating Officer and Programme Director for the Digital Transformation Programme at The Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd. spoke with our Digital Transformation Community Leader, Patrick Desmarès, about the key components of their successful digital evolution.

If digitalization is a strategic priority in your institution, how is this priority translated into organizational terms? 

During the last four years, one of our strategic pillars has been to "Deliver a world-class Customer Experience through Digital." In other words, to improve our services and innovate for our customers using new technologies and new ways of working. We created the Digital Factory as an incubator to host transversal teams focused on the re-engineering of 22 customer journeys. Each squad focuses on journeys such as mortgages, corporate international payments, business banking account opening, and reviewed the end-to-end process and redeveloped the front-end using modern technologies while leveraging APIs with the existing back-ends. 

In the Factory, we in-sourced many of the developments and added design to reflect customer expectations and leveraged new middleware, omni-channel, and workflow components. End-to-end journeys are also a good way to streamline, automate and simplify our processes across business units. The next step we are busy with is to put back the squads within the wider bank. We launched a business banking unit and moved the related squads within the commercial and operation floor. To retain consistency, we structured various chapters: engineering, design, product, etc. that are cutting across the business units. We also reorganized our technology department in functional and technical domains working closely with business unit sponsors. We are currently creating a payment unit with the transition of the related squads to the unit and we will gradually expand this model throughout the bank. 

What new profiles are needed to drive a successful digitalization strategy and where do you find inspiration in other sectors/industries? 

You need people bringing a more "agile way of working" and new disciplines, namely scrum masters, agile coaches, product designers, traditional business and process analysts, product owners, and many software engineers. We re-skilled quite a significant number of our staff (about 70% of Factory's members are from MCB). The rest comes from various backgrounds, mainly from the software industry. Inspiration for the matrix and platform model is mainly coming from the big or small techs: building reactive cross functional teams on top of a strong platform. We are following the path that other digitally-focused banks have taken. 

What are the dimensions of your digitalization strategy (infrastructure, processes, channels, way of working, etc.)? 

We are evolving our back-end systems to be continuously upgradable while retaining high availability and security and leveraging on containers that can be run on premise or on the cloud. As said, we have re-engineered our processes and front-end systems to adapt to customer needs. For our channels, we are converging to a unique omnichannel solution covering mobile, web, and branch kiosk for all products and all customer segments. Our KPIs have been set to optimize costs and increase sales, increase customer satisfaction but also to improve employee engagement and our overall "digital maturity." For those dimensions, we are tracking quarterly engagement and team maturity to measure what the self-managed ways of working are bringing, beyond time to market and financial indicators. 

Beyond the benefits already achieved and the expected benefits of digitalization, what are the obstacles and what are the dangers to avoid? 

I think change management is the key challenge to reach an "agile way of working". First, on the cultural side, people were very much used to just following instructions and working mostly within their unit. Having transversal, multi-skilled teams working well takes time as well as having sponsors getting in sync on common priorities. 

Also, self-management comes with challenges due to the team maturity that could lead to going in the wrong direction and needed more steering from management at key milestones in the projects than anticipated. Another challenge is the promise of a quicker turnaround time has not materialized for all the journeys. The complexity of the interdependencies, even if reduced by applying an API layer, is still very much there. The most significant danger is to deal with the sheer number of changes due to the digital disruption; executing them in an iterative, continuous delivery is definitely challenging. 

How can digitalization be reconciled with the need to humanize customer relations? 

Actually, we still have very much a human touch. People increasingly rely on their mobile app for everyday banking and come to their Relationship Manager for more value-added services. Digitalization is freeing time for the front-office workers to spend with customers. For example, a new credit scoring process will help reduce turnaround time when people come to the branch to apply for a loan. We are still offering teller services and digitalization also helps behind the scene, not only on the mobile or internet banking channels. 

How can digitalization be 'sold' to the company's employees? 

Internally the new ways of working have significantly boosted the team engagement, multiplied by two! It comes with transparent communication and interactions with the people, which is crucial during this Covid period. Automation and cost reduction are bringing some worries, and strong change management is important to re-skill and make people evolve, reassuring them that their jobs will evolve to something more interesting. 

To what extent has the Covid crisis changed your digitalization program? 

As for everyone, the sudden lockdowns were a big shock. On the spot, we shifted to WFH overnight and accelerated the maturity on both the technical side and the more cultural side to adopt the remote communication tools. That brought efficiency, as before some meetings were very time consuming when people had to be gathered from different buildings. Now, remote meetings are used for extended team town halls even when some physical presence have resumed and for meetings like steering committees where there is limited need for physical interactions. Some meetings, however, do require physical presence. Detailed walk-throughs or analysis are very difficult to hold online, and meetings involving testing are more efficient on-site.

On the other side, offshore software engineers can now work remotely on the same environments and use remote daily "stand-ups", which is more convenient than going through the need to work away from the family and the administrative hassle with work permits. We still plan that they come every quarter to meet their team members physically. We will pursue this hybrid way of working in the future. WFH impacted delivery as teams were adapting and we had to shift focus to urgent needs like credit moratoriums and various Covid support measures. Covid also highlighted the number of paper processes that needed urgent attention and accelerated their digitalization, notably through the earlier introduction of digital signatures.

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