Charlie Lewis Originations, X-End-to-End Solution, X-General News, X-Series-E2E

So far in this “Full Transparency | On End-to-End” series the defi Executive Leadership Team has provided their perspectives on four topics:

In this next article, our Executive Leadership Team tackles:

How does end-to-end evolve the functions of your teams for the short and long term

Starting off the conversation is CEO Tom Allanson, followed by: (in alphabetic order):

  • Jason Barrett, Chief Client Success Officer
  • Steve Bissett, VP, Client Services, BPO
  • David Call, Chief Financial Officer
  • Matthew Lehman, CLO/CHRO
  • Dave Murray, Chief Product Officer
  • Drew Newman, CIO/CTO
  • Susie Storey, Chief Sales Officer

Tom (CEO): When I came to defi, I had to understand the fundamentals. First a little history: We had two companies that were doing extremely well. One was on a fast-track trajectory, early-stage company, solving all kinds of interesting problems, trying to make a difference in the market, and they were doing that. The other was a long-term company, very solid, with long-term associates who worked very differently than an early-stage entrepreneurial group. We merged and are trying to bring those two companies together to offer something uniquely different and better. That’s massive.

The business is running, we’re delivering services, our clients like us, and there’s a lot of goodness. So, then I tried to understand what’s really going on – why the clients like us, what problems we’re solving and creating, what we can do better. One of the things I identified very quickly — and it didn’t matter what product lens the clients were looking at us from — a SERVICING lens, an LOS or an XLOS lens — is that we needed to do better at meeting commitments.

Now, this wasn’t just potentially missing dates on SOWs with clearly stated requirements. It was more like the things we said in casual conversation about our products and their roadmaps that never came about. Nobody owned these as commitments or agreed to them as commitments, but conversations were taking place across the organization – product, strategy, client success, development — and our clients perceived them as commitments.

The intentions of defi team members are very good. Everybody here wants to do the right thing for our clients. They’re passionate about it and get upset when we don’t. But what and how we were communicating were problematic, and we didn’t have good processes for ingesting and delivering against commitments. The processes we did have weren’t defined end-to-end. For me, process improvement never actually stops.

So, I brought on Jason Barrett. Jason is an expert at transformation and integration of process improvements. Our products and services grew up independently. They weren’t all born in the same family, with the same methodologies, with the same technologies, and now we’re bringing them together. We need processes and environments that work well together. We require different resources to work on these different products. We had to standardize.

Drew Newman had a ton of experience working with me at Fiserv when we completely redid our technology so that we could standardize. From a client perspective that means when we say that we’re going to do something, we understand what it’s going to take because we understand the mechanics of our products. The skill sets that it takes to make modifications within are the same skill sets across multiple platforms, so we’re not duplicating and it’s much easier for us to deliver for our clients.

Then I backup and say, “Okay, now we’ve got people that are looking at process and we actually have processes defined that can deliver against the commitments. We have teams across products talking and planning for standardization that will provide the foundation on which to build our end-to-end functionality and always meet our commitments.”

Now, we are striving to iterate ourselves to excellence. We are going to back up and rethink the whole thing. That’s why Dave Murray is here. Dave is creative. Dave can be disruptive. Dave is here to reimagine the whole thing – to discover a totally different way that we could imagine the experiences for consumers to get into a vehicle, to get that vehicle through payoff or other disposition, and to get into the next one.

The addition of these three has freed up other ELT members significantly to tackle other important projects we’ll be undertaking this year.

One of the things I’ve talked a lot about with the ELT is how to redefine teamwork. defi team members tend to think of teamwork within their individual teams. They need to think of teamwork within the organization, as us working together as one team to deliver these magnificent solutions to the end-users of our solutions.

I think we have to redefine for everybody in the organization why we are here and what the team actually is.

Jason (Client Success): My teams have already evolved and standardized and will continue to evolve, starting with portfolio. This is new work origination requests for features or enhancements — regardless of product or service – that come in through the Client Executives. This team is responsible for intake, estimation, resource management or allocation, capacity, planning, prioritization, and then obviously, the metrics and reporting associated with all of that. And then chronologically or progressively, the work goes to the project management office. In the past, whether a PM was assigned to support the client’s deliverable was based on, “it depends.” It depends on the product, it depends on the sale, it depends on the team, it depends, it depends, it depends. Thinking end-to-end, everything we’re delivering – whether for our client or for an internal project – will have a project manager associated who coordinates the delivery experience.

Next, the implementation team takes over. One implementation team for all products. They sit down with clients and either work out the plan to co-implement or handle the complete implementation and can even configure the software and make it work for them. And then, there is client support. After a product or service goes live, we do warranty support for four to six weeks before issues are handled by ticketing.

The benefit of an end-to-end solution for my teams is that processes are standardized and consistently applied. We should be able to say a project is a project. With the framework and the rigor and discipline, we should be able to plan the work and work the plan. It should be relatively the same all the way through implementation. The experience for the client should be absolutely top-notch because our people know what they’re doing as they’ve done it a million times and it’s almost become rote at this point.

Steve (Client Services, BPO): BPO is very process oriented. We are an ISO 9001 certified shop. We provide services to large captives and large banks and even smaller lenders. We help them scale – ramp up their capabilities or add new capabilities – and mitigate the impact of a pandemic, hurricane, or other unforeseen problem that impacts their ability to deliver quality services to their customers. Right now, across our products and services, we kind of have puzzle pieces that don’t always fit nicely together and that sometimes puts restrictions on some client initiatives. Having a structure and aligned processes improve the client’s business flexibility.

We will be evaluating how BPO processes compare and line up with other defi products and services in the end-to-end solution. In order for us to deliver a client experience that is seamless, every team is going to have to be flexible and change how they deliver certain processes in order to make sure that it’s a satisfying experience for the client and the client’s customer.

David (Finance): Believe it or not, an end-to-end platform has the potential to make life more difficult from a finance and accounting standpoint. Our job, at the end of the day, is to take transactions and categorize them properly and consistently so that we as a management team or our board or our external stakeholders can monitor and track the progress of the business. When we bundle elements of the platform and sell them under one SKU, the challenge then becomes reporting on how the individual elements are performing. It does become a little complicated for finance to categorize and involves the use of certain allocation methodology, but it’s something I’ve taken on before.

However, the implication for our customers is it will be easier for them to renew and add on elements, to start with one phase of their lending lifecycle and add elements as their business evolves or needs change. It will improve our long-term relationships with our clients.

Matt (Legal): I oversee the compliance group, the legal group, and human resources, which have some overlap, and are interrelated. I think an end-to-end solution will help us think about clients more holistically, think about their issues more holistically. From a contracting standpoint, the idea of a singular go-to-market strategy will hopefully make contracting easier for us, and in turn improve experience for the clients as well. From a compliance standpoint, we have set ourselves at the forefront in terms of having compliant products that we’re bringing to market in this heavily-regulated area that we operate in. We’ll continue doing the difficult work of maintaining compliant products and our clients can simplify their lives by dealing with just us and not 4-5 separate vendors. And from an HR standpoint, having an end-to-end platform is maybe a unifier that will help bring together disparate internal teams and empower individual team members by giving them the ability to work on a variety of projects across the company.

Dave (Product): We’re product management, so thinking end-to-end changes both our short-term and long-term functions. In the short term, we need to define the holistic problems of lending, from the acquisition of a client, to underwriting, to contracting, to billing and collecting, and finally to closing out the contract. In the long term, we plan on creating solutions that are designed to seamlessly work together to solve the holistic problem of lending money. We are going to function the way a primary contractor functions, not a subcontractor.

Drew (CIO/CTO): There’s a battle for talent right now. It’s a challenge to attract, hire, and retain good talent. That’s been exacerbated in this environment that we live in today. And from a technology perspective, I don’t see that changing.

With our good talent working on siloed products, they can’t always easily ebb and flow and move with demand in terms of capabilities that we need to deliver. So, the more we can get to a common architecture and a common set of components that are much smaller in nature, the greater our ability to train team members such that they can pick up work across the entire lifecycle, and not be just constrained or limited to only certain products and services. It gives us the ability to have much more fungibility with our resources and use them when and where we need to use them. The quality of our product and our time to market is going to be vastly improved.

Susie (Sales): The sales team is scrappy. We’ve continued to hit amazing sales numbers despite having to adapt very quickly to understanding new products. Yet, we’re somewhat waiting for new products to come to market and existing products to go through big evolutions, while dealing with increased prospect demand in the middle of all of it. There’s a real desire, push, and commitment from the leadership team to have better-defined products — what they are, what they do, and what is the baseline for all of them. Once defined, once we have a base product, it becomes a lot easier for a team like mine to understand and pass that understanding to prospects in the market.

We’re in a great market position, we have a great reputation, and when we have the end-to-end solutions more firmly defined, our job will be much easier.

Getting Started

defi SOLUTIONS offers solutions for a lender’s complete end-to-end, loan or lease lifecycle. Partnering with captives, banks, credit unions, and finance companies, defi’s market-leading solutions helps lenders exceed borrower expectations. From digital engagement through the complete lending process, defi sets new standards for flexibility, configurability, and scalability in originations and servicing (by your experts or ours). If you’re curious about the possibilities for your unique lending lifecycle, take the first step. Contact our team today or register for a demo.

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