August 31, 2023
How a Midsized Bank Leveraged Technology to Modernize Its Workflows
With help from CDW, the institution deployed ServiceNow to update and simplify a range of processes, with more ambitious modernization projects in the works.
Recently, a midsized regional financial institution was struggling with outdated processes for simple workflows, such as procurement approvals and large customer account transfers. The bank had the technology in place to power effective solutions, but overburdened internal IT staff lacked the expertise necessary to build out these solutions in a timely, cost-effective way.
To fix these nagging process problems — and to chart a strategic path forward for its technology environment — the bank turned to CDW.
“They wanted to modernize their retail operations at the bank branches,” recalls Ben Dunesby, the CDW account executive who manages the relationship with the financial institution. “For example, they were still using Excel spreadsheets to track who within the bank branch could approve a bank transfer over $10,000.”
This process was not only antiquated and cumbersome but also resulted sometimes in subpar customer service. The Excel spreadsheets were managed manually, Dunesby notes, meaning that they weren’t always updated when a manager left the company. This often left frontline retail employees scrambling to find the appropriate person to authorize a transfer.
The bank’s manual procurement approval processes were similarly inefficient, according to Chris Cortez, a CDW innovation and strategy supervisor who is working on the bank’s ongoing IT optimization effort. Often, he notes, organizations develop workflows on a one-off, ad hoc basis over time, until leaders eventually realize that improvements are needed. The bank brought CDW in not only to solve its problems with procurement and transfers but also to conduct a thorough assessment of its entire IT organization and create a roadmap for long-term improvements.
“We leveraged our maturity assessment to get an understanding of where they were deviating from best practices,” Cortez says. “Now that the bank is seeing these early wins, the IT department can show success to the business units and demonstrate the return on investment that comes with executing on their roadmap.”
“ServiceNow is such an effective IT service management tool that sometimes people don’t realize everything it can do.”
— Chris Cortez, Innovation and Strategy Supervisor, CDW
Leveraging ServiceNow’s Workflow Management Capabilities
Before partnering with CDW, the bank designed its own solution to manage large account transfers: an SQL database that would have tied into the institution’s identity management solution, enabling automatic updates when managers left the bank or transitioned to new roles. However, such a complicated new system would have been overbuilt for the task. Similarly, the bank’s proposed solution for its procurement approval process was going to require a substantial upfront effort and a potentially unsustainable maintenance burden over time.
“They were going to have to come up with some sort of custom user interface that would allow them to do reporting and lookups and even initiate the adding and changing of authorization limits,” Cortez says. “It really would have increased their internal technical debt.”
Cortez and his colleagues at CDW saw untapped potential in the bank’s use of ServiceNow. The institution was already a ServiceNow user, but it’s common for IT leaders to treat the platform primarily as an IT ticketing system and overlook its more advanced capabilities, Cortez says.
“ServiceNow is such an effective IT service management tool that sometimes people don’t realize everything it can do,” Cortez says. “But the reality is that ServiceNow is no longer just a ticketing solution, and it hasn’t been for some time. Businesses are now using the platform to manage customer and employee workflows across the entire organization.”
CDW designed solutions that leveraged the bank’s existing investment in ServiceNow to streamline approvals for both account transfers and procurement. But first, the team needed to sit down with leaders and stakeholders from the financial institution to get a better idea of exactly how things were being done and what needed to change.
“Once you put the process down on paper, you can quickly see where the inefficiencies are,” Cortez says. “At that point, it’s just a matter of moving the puzzle pieces around to make that process more effective and efficient.”
Cortez and Dunesby note that ServiceNow has effective tools that can help organizations with customer service, project management and human resources. For instance, the platform’s HR Service Delivery tool allows companies to deliver targeted campaigns and announcements to employees based on their role or location, and offers managers centralized visibility into their teams’ requests.
“The bank is embarking on a journey with CDW to understand how ServiceNow can be used for more than IT-based functionality,” Dunesby says. “They aren’t using the platform for areas like human resources yet, but we see things heading that way in the future.”
How Much Value ServiceNow Delivers to Banks
When a bank implements ServiceNow, what kind of results can it expect, and over what time frame, in terms of investment returns and productivity improvements? IDC investigated those questions, and here’s what the research firm found:
The ROI after five years
The amount of time it took to break even
The improvement in efficiency for for service management and help desk operations
The productivity improvement for compliance teams
Source: IDC, “The Business Value of ServiceNow for Retail Banks,” September 2020
IT Staff Augmentation Delivers Strategic Advantages
Like many midsized organizations, the bank’s IT staff is adept at managing existing infrastructure. But the institution struggles to design and implement strategic improvements without outside help. “They’re able to fund the team that handles keeping the lights on, so to speak, and then beyond that, they need augmenting capabilities through external partners like CDW,” Dunesby says. “Otherwise, they would have to pull people from their day-to-day duties, and things would begin to fall apart.”
The bank depends on CDW for two IT professionals in a staff augmentation capacity, as well as two part-time professionals. Cortez allocates a portion of his time to the organization, and the bank also relies on CDW for quality assurance consultants, business analysts and other roles on a project-by-project basis.
Although the financial institution relied on CDW to create a three-year roadmap for IT improvements, its IT leaders were partners during this process, helping to identify areas of critical need. Pleased with the initial results, those leaders have contracted with CDW to complete three major projects per year.
Cortez attributes this close relationship to CDW’s approach, which works to solve the bank’s problems rather than simply selling tech solutions. “Because we led with strategy rather than the technology,” he says, “they see us as a strategic partner.”
IT Asset Management and Customer Service Improvements Planned
In the near future, the bank plans to tackle three major initiatives with CDW’s help: aligning with ServiceNow’s Common Service Data Model, which is essentially a list of best practices for reporting and tracking data to optimize use of the platform; revamping its asset management practices for software and hardware; and dramatically improving customer experience.
Currently, end users’ experiences are inconsistent when making queries for simple issues like broken laptops, with little back-end logic connecting different resources. The institution also lacks a centralized way to track the lifecycle of its IT investments. “Improving this process will allow them to retire duplicative applications and reduce waste,” Dunesby says.
Additionally, the alignment on the Common Service Data Model will lead to more proactive IT service management, allowing internal staffers to spot potential issues before they cause problems for the business.
As this round of projects gets underway, internal staffers will work together with CDW’s consultants to refine the organization’s IT roadmap, ensuring that it is still aimed at meeting the bank’s most important business objectives. “We’re constantly recalibrating the roadmap,” Cortez says. “We’re always looking at new requests coming in and really sitting with them to prioritize their initiatives for the future.”
Story by Calvin Hennick, a freelance journalist who specializes in business and technology writing. He is a contributor to the CDW family of technology magazines.
The percentage of businesses that have achieved digitized, fully automated workspaces
Source: formstack.com, “Workflow Automation Statistics You Need to Know,” May 1, 2023