If you’re the sort to send blog correction notices to businesses, you might be tempted right now to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know we made a typo in our heading. Please do! We’d love to hear from you!
And, yes, we know the textbook definition of “flexibility” is “the quality of bending easily without breaking.” BUT. We think “braking” works best for us and for our customers.
At defi, we intend to provide our clients flexibility of the sort that doesn’t apply the brakes – neither slows nor stops them – but is the autobahn by which businesses can evolve in terms of size or volume or model. In other words…to let them do business as their people see fit.
HOWEVER. As we’ve talked before, the definition of flexibility is squishy. It’s one of those words everyone tosses about willy-nilly as if you’re going to “get” what they’re trying to tell you. It’s gotten too convenient, become a cliché, and is downright irritating to some.
THE DEFINITION OF FLEXIBILITY
Challenge: Ask the person next to you (or closest to you on Teams or Zoom) what flexibility means to them. Unless they’ve rehearsed an answer, bet you’ll get an attempted definition with maybe a “for instance” that clarifies what they mean. They may start with what’s it’s not. Compare or contrast it to another similar idea. Their definition will be influenced by the role they or you play within your organization. It’s that hard to describe.
I asked 5 different people at defi. Three who are well-known for their originations and business acumen: Charles Sutherland, Scott Hendriks, Christian Wilcoxson. (You’ll want to listen to their “Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water” AFSA webinar or maybe even scan the transcript!) And two who typically remain behind the scenes and up to their elbows in the nuts and bolts of product development: Adam Smith and Chris Bright.
These five were not in the same room or the same meeting at the time of their answers, although they have been in plenty of product planning meetings over the last two years. Here’s what they said:
Adam: ….so let’s talk about scalability first because I think that’s probably the easiest for us to define. (We did ask him about the difference in the two and scalability is his jam!)
Chris: When I think of flexibility it’s from a technology perspective …. providing tools for clients to implement their business objectives with the least amount of friction.
Scott: I don’t look at it from a technology perspective…flexibility to me is really markets. Say I start out as a nonprime lender in the Houston area and I grow into a national nonprime lender. There are going to be geographic considerations. Or I decide I’m going to target a specific program (the classic car program.) Or I’m going to transition from only auto lending to powersports. Or I start out as a direct lender doing nothing but refinance and now, I’m going to do indirect business through dealerships. Those are different types of business that have nuance to them or entirely new processes or entirely new ways of doing things that have to be accounted for.
The system has to be flexible in that it will support all those various lines of business, each effectively, to not have adverse impact on what I was doing before but also not force me to go out on something new entirely.
Charles: …flexibility is the notion that I’ve bought a platform or a product that will adapt to where my core business is headed over the next several years. So, as I need to make changes, as market conditions require me to make changes, or the nature of market is changing, the platform can follow and doesn’t leave me behind. (What Scott said, in a nutshell.)
Christian: …. I think about 2020 and COVID. When the paycheck protection program was rolled out, one of our clients decided “hey, we need to be able to offer this to our customer base.” It’s a regional bank and our originations system was flexible enough that they were able to stand up a completely new line of business in a two-week time frame without defi having to write a single line of code.
That’s a big part of flexibility, that ability to shift with the market whether you’re spinning up a new line of business or (what so many other lenders did during COVID) tightening up your credit programs.
defi DEFINITON: Flexibility gives the ability to change business models and shift with market shifts at will.
FLEXIBILITY IN ACTION
As defi goes forward, we will keep a close lens on customer need in the evolution of current and future products and services. And we will continue to define the hard to define and develop the hard to develop. It can’t be subjective and easy to fudge if we’re talking about it.
Watch for more to come on the other “ities”: Scalability, Configurability, Reliability and more
defi SOLUTIONS provides configurable loan origination systems, loan management and servicing, analytics and reporting, and a wide range of technology-enabled BPO services. If you’re struggling with the limitations of your current lending technology solutions, take the first step in realizing the benefits of modern technology. Contact our team today or register for a demo.