So, you’ve decided you need to improve your digital experience and bring in new technology? A big piece of generating meaningful ROI for your company is ensuring a successful (and timely) implementation across your organization.
We’ve all heard about the horror stories of four-month (or two-year) implementation debacles, but by selecting the right technology partner, you can avoid an implementation disaster. If you don’t know where to start, here are some of the key areas of a solid implementation plan that we have seen across 200+ small-to-midsize lenders.
Assemble your implementation team
A dedicated implementation team will make sure implementation and deployment is a success and will help you establish a governance process to ensure ongoing training and adoption strategies are put in place.
Because the purchase group is often a different team than the group in charge of implementation, it can be helpful to involve members from the implementation team late in the sales process for a smoother transition.
Depending on your team size, your implementation team will vary.
For a small shop, it might just be the owner, a loan officer, and their loan officer assistant. For a larger team, you might involve representatives from marketing, operations, IT and even HR in the process.
Regardless of your team size, be sure to include employees on the implementation team who will actually be using the new digital mortgage platform. Including end users on the team will make sure you don’t overlook critical functionality concerns and help you get the software set up to accommodate your team’s processes.
Create your implementation plan
With your implementation team established, the real planning can begin.
According to Harvard Business Review, companies with an implementation & execution plan see 70% greater returns on their implementation efforts.
Ideally, a comprehensive implementation plan should include:
1. Implementation goals and objectives:
Before implementation begins, you should identify quantitative, tangible metrics that you want the new software to help you achieve. What does a successful outcome look like? It might be a higher number of closed loans, better customer satisfaction metrics, quicker time to close, etc.
- What do you want the new software to help achieve?
- What pain points should the software address?
- What elements of friction can the new software remove from your process?
- What are your security and compliance concerns/expectations?
- Who will use the system?
- How will different team members use the system in different ways?
- How will you manage training? Will you have an internal trainer to train and onboard newcomers onto the platform?
- What is your best-case scenario in terms of performance? What tangible results would indicate a successful implementation?
Different teams have different priorities, but it’s important to clarify those priorities and understand your baseline performance metrics pre-implementation so you can accurately track the success of your new software once it’s fully rolled out.
The more pre-implementation data you have, the better. Year-over-year metrics are ideal, but at the very least, you should have a solid three months of pre-implementation data before you deploy your new digital mortgage software so you have an accurate baseline from which to measure your post-implementation results.
2. Implementation strategy and planning
With your desired outcome established, think about what your company needs to do to achieve those goals.
Is it a percentage of all employees logging into the software daily? A 100% usage rate within three months? Will you need to tie your Google Analytics data into the new software so you can monitor website visits vs. clicks on loan application links?
If your software doesn’t offer reporting metrics, always reach out to your customer success or account manager, as they are often able to access internal reporting and send you data.
3. Implementation overview
Next, you’ll want to plan out how the implementation will be managed.
Describe specific tasks, deliverables, and decisions that must be made over the course of your implementation. Your vendor should provide you with a timeline of your implementation to help you know what to expect along the way.
As you develop your implementation plan, be sure to think about when is the best time to deploy to your entire team. You don’t want to implement the software and train employees during busy season, as you want your team to have the time and headspace to fully dedicate themselves to learning the new software.
Consider using a (free) project management tool like Trello or Wunderlist to help manage the implementation project. Smaller businesses (10 or fewer employees) can likely get away with using tools like Google Sheets/Drive/Calendar to manage the process, but organizations with 10+ employees will benefit from using a more comprehensive project management tool to stay on-task.
4. Compliance and security
You’ve likely (hopefully!) evaluated your technology partner on their security procedures and standards, but making sure your implementation process is secure is sometimes overlooked.
For example, how will sensitive information or PII be handled in transferring over to new systems if needed? Does the process meet your current security and compliance standards?
5. Soft launch and full launch plan
The most successful implementation strategies involve training and deploying the software to a small group of end-users first, giving them time to adjust to the platform and giving you an opportunity to test, troubleshoot, and gather feedback.
Soft launch teams are also a great way to demonstrate the positive impact of the new tool to your larger team to alleviate any concerns your team may have about the new tool.
6. Integration process
A common area for delay during digital mortgage implementation is during the integration phase with your technology stack. If you’re planning to integrate your digital mortgage platform with your LOS, ask your vendor about what to expect and what they need to get your LOS tied into your digital mortgage platform on the back-end. Your digital mortgage vendor will be able to give you more information about what to expect from the integration process for your specific LOS and provide tips on how to reduce friction.
7. Adoption strategy
Your implementation plan should address your adoption strategy and how to drive employee engagement and adoption on your new tech. This strategy should be developed with continuous improvement in mind and address how your team will manage collecting feedback and troubleshooting issues that arise. How will you train new hires on the software? Will you have a designated trainer on your team? Will you need webinar training videos from your partner?
By thinking about adoption early on, your digital mortgage vendor has more of an opportunity to support your strategy to ensure your long-term success on the platform. Your adoption strategy should also highlight your metrics to determine success and articulate how often your team will evaluate your progress.
Finding the right partner can be the difference between success and failure. A robust and detailed implementation plan is critical in achieving your goals, timeline, and ROI when launching new technology, but all the heavy lifting doesn’t need to be on your shoulders. They should be the experts to be consultants, not salespeople, in getting you across the finish line.
A successful plan and the right partner can help you achieve the technology nirvana we strive for with the ease that you expect technology to bring in your business.