FULL TRANSPARENCY: ON IMPLEMENTATION | AND PENGUINS

Charlie Lewis defi ORIGINATIONS, defi Partners, End-to-End Solution, General News, Series-E2E, Series-Transparency

Gartner.com in its “The SaaS Buying Experience: Mapping How Businesses Buy Software” has identified 27 unique steps involved in the common SaaS buying experience. Determining status quo through identifying the opportunity and problem, understanding requirements and options through engaging with vendors, setting up trials, verifying satisfied requirements and the final purchasing decision. At that point, the buyer becomes a customer.

Really? Is that it?

What happens after a SaaS purchase is as important as what happens before.

How many SaaS “implementation gone wrong” stories have you heard? How many companies purchase products from a vendor only to find out their “clearly defined objectives” weren’t that clear? Their band-aid approach isn’t going to work? Their chosen provider doesn’t know their industry or understand their need? And there is no help in sight.

In this conversation, defi experts discuss the theories and practices around implementation that have led to a solid reputation for quick, on-time, on-scope delivery of defi ORIGINATIONS and defi SERVICING products and defi (BPO) MANAGED SERVICING. The discussion involves these:

  • Jason Barrett, Chief Client Success Officer
  • Stephen Bissett, VP, Client Services and Head of defi (BPO) MANAGED SERVICING
  • Jen Cambre, Director, Client Implementation

These answers were edited for clarity and concision.

defi has a reputation for delivery. How do you do what others cannot?

Jen: It comes down to knowledge, dedication, and passion to serve our clients. We collaborate with our clients to figure out a way to get things done in even the most complex situations. Our team members are rich with industry knowledge and have a unique passion to be best in class and deliver client solutions that others may not have. They get their hands dirty, dig deep and work extra when warranted.

Jason: In the implementation space, we are the leader in best practices. The implementation team has been doing this for a very long time and they know our products and services extraordinarily well.

Our clients are looking to make a difference in their business space and in the competitive market where they operate. They’re looking to us as the industry leader to help them deliver against that promise. We know the loan and lease space. We can guide them on best practices and principles and teach them the space as we’re rolling them out. We can sit down with the client and describe to them the best way to achieve the business functionality that they’re trying to attain.

Stephen: At the end of the day, the clients determine what’s most valuable to them. Oftentimes it’s speed to market; they want a fully custom offering, but they also want fast speed to market. We can get them quickly to market on our base offering and once they’re up and running, we will build out custom processes. They get their custom program, and they get their speed to market.

How or does a quick implementation impact functional richness?

Jason: It doesn’t. We can implement our base services pretty quickly. But we don’t sacrifice functional richness in order to achieve speed. We actually can deliver both simultaneously.

Jen: We do not jeopardize quality for quantity. This goes back again to a team rich in knowledge and tools built to make implementations much more efficient. Quickness wasn’t always the case. We had to want to get here and to build processes and teams to get here.

Stephen: When you compare fully-customized solutions and the value proposition we’re offering, we can deliver the vast majority of capabilities, and certainly the most important of the capabilities, with our out-of-the-box solution.

For the client who truly wants everything customized, the implementation timeline is longer. But at the end of the day, our clients aren’t valuing functionality over speed. Most of the time, they’re interested in both and want to get to market quickly, and that is usually the primary driver for why they select us.

So what helps an implementation go well?

Jen: Two things: 1) preparing the client for what to expect and who will be needed from their team, and 2) making sure the client understands upfront that the success of the implementation is a partnership. We are not “doing this for the client,” we are “doing this with the client.”

Jason: I agree. Level setting expectations with a client is important, as is having a really good project manager in place to manage client expectations, defi timelines and commitments. Also, we have to make sure that everyone has a firm understanding of what we need to do. So good communication with the client, good expectations set with the client, and a good foundational plan inside of defi.

Stephen: I’ll point to two things. One is our thoroughly documented processes. We know exactly what has to occur and when it has to occur in order for the implementation to succeed.

And as Jen said, partnerships and making sure that everybody’s calibrated on what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, and who’s responsible for what. Right from the beginning, it’s about building the relationship, clearly articulating roles and responsibilities. It’s about us working together to fully understand what they’re trying to do. It’s a combination of process and the relationship that ultimately gets us across the goal line.

But everything doesn’t always go off without a hitch.

Stephen: Implementations can have their trying moments. Maybe the client has a different understanding of what’s expected of them coming into an implementation. Maybe their understanding of our base offering is slightly different than what it actually is. We do our best during the sales process, but there’s an education and a calibration process that goes along with every implementation we do.

Jason: You’re right. Maybe we missed asking a question. Or the client misunderstood a question. But we have the reputation for delivery because we’re determined as hell.

Just recently we successfully completed three very high profile, very large-scale defi SERVICING implementations that are now live. At the last minute during one of these, the client’s compliance and legal team imposed a requirement that was, from a practical standpoint, impossible to meet.

This particular project caused us to call up the fabric of what makes defi great. At defi, we say, “It takes a village,” and in this case it did. The client’s timeline didn’t allow us to hire third-parties to help out, so we called for volunteers across the entire breadth of the company. Not just from the delivery space, from the product space, the dev space, anybody who had any bandwidth and could help to support a late-breaking requirement. We got the volunteers, and we got the work done on time.

How does defi’s business process outsourcing or MANAGED SERVICING benefit your clients?

Jen: defi MANAGED SERVICING speeds the time to market. defi MANAGED SERVICING team members are the definitive experts in the use of the defi SERVICING platform. It’s not a typical implementation. There is no training on the intricacies of the system because the experts are the ones using it. Instead, we focus on the client’s rules, the client’s policies and a sort of “plug and play” fashion for both setting up the system as well as for getting the client-specific processes in place.

Stephen: One of the new clients Jason just referenced had a homegrown operation for retail, but they didn’t have a servicing operation or know anything about leasing. They would have had to hire all new people and learn a new system at the same time, and that’s a lot to ask of somebody. We were able to take some of that pain away.

Our people know lease. Our people know the defi SERVICING system. We solved those problems for them so they could focus on the things that are most important for them, which – for that moment – was to learn the leasing business, become a captive lender, build relationships with a dealer base. They can focus on the strategic side of their business while we handle all the tactical stuff.

Jason: With defi’s MANAGED SERVICING and Implementation teams working together, we have this absolute dream team with an enormous depth and breadth of knowledge – client use cases, how our product is employed in the market. It’s a huge boon to us and our clients to have these teams working in tandem.

What next?

Jason: We have a framework for delivery and a willingness to work with the customers, but we are always on the lookout for continuous improvement. Even in this high-performing organization, we can improve our operational efficiency and further optimize the delivery model to become even higher performing.

Our job is to deliver high-performing functionality that differentiates our clients in their competitive landscape. In the past, we were a company that didn’t know the word “no.” I’m leading my team to not say “no,” but to say “yes, but.” Yes, we absolutely can pivot and do this for you. Yes, we can make this change, but there might be a consequence to scope, schedule, budget.

And then I’m working with the team to understand what changed, why it changed and what we need to do differently to still achieve success for the client. We will never be the company that drags out an implementation for three years and never delivers or just argues in nickels and dimes. Those are very bad reputations to have.

Jason, you also are leading your team in the use of the word “penguins.”

Jason: So, for a transformational guy that creates high-performing organizations, one thing I absolutely have to have is consistency: consistency of process, consistency of rules, consistency of tools and operating framework. We need consistent repeatable delivery processes and methods across the breadth of the company. And the biggest thing that you can say to me to get my ire up when I ask you a question about anything, rules, tools, or process-related is “it depends.” It depends on the client. It depends on the product. It depends on who you talked to last. It depends. It depends. It depends.

My team was in a meeting and somebody I think very highly of said, “It depends.” And I said, “You know what? That word is no longer allowed in this conversation. You make up a different word, I don’t care, call it ‘penguins’.”

Now, penguins remind us you cannot build highly efficient, effective, repeatable processes with “it depends.”

Tell me about the benefit of defi as the single provider of a lender’s end-to-end processes.

Stephen: With our MANAGED SERVICING, defi uniquely provides a true end-to-end offering of products and services, from originations through remarketing. Our competitors do not. They’re just selling software, starting net new with each client. We’re starting from a foundation of expertise; we’ve operated these systems a number of times for other clients. We have the processes down to a science. We know exactly what has to happen, down to the task level, in order to implement a client. And so, we have detailed playbooks. We have very good documentation. And we’re able to read a script instead of building from scratch.

Jen: With defi as the single provider, there won’t be time spent integrating our platform with other vendors’ platforms. Those integrations are out of our hands. They can take weeks, months, maybe a year and our clients run into all the typical “gotchas” – Do they have resources available at the same time as defi? Do they have the same client incentive to integrate with defi? Do they even want to integrate with defi, or do they have the same desire to be “best in class” as defi?

Jason: Plus, there is so much future potential that we’re working on – the common user experience, compatibility in the toolset from originations all the way through to the servicing.

Do you ever see defi products as self-implementable?

Jason: Absolutely yes. Why can’t we have a world where a client gives our sales team their credit card, and we send them a URL to click on that starts their implementation? Why can’t we have wizards that pop up and ask, “Which integrations do you need?”

Anything that’s repeatable should be automatable. And if it’s automatable, then it should be made self-service.

No penguins!

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