Continuing our discussion from last month’s article in my series on case management, we’re ready to move forward with insights into how case management can help lenders resolve business challenges, including obstacles brought about by the recent financial market crisis. 

The recipe for success I have seen in practice is applying case management for process improvement. I think that one of the easiest ways to appreciate best practices is through the lens of a case study, so here is one example.

The Case for Case Management

In this example, a national bank was facing very high costs in their loan processing environment. In fact, they were seven to ten times higher than the leader’s cost benchmark. The cycle times for them were also very high and way out of sync with their customers’ expectations.

Their approach was to leverage the strengths of case management to focus on three goals to improve their loan processing, and I consider this a best practice for successful process improvement and not just for the lending environment, but across the financial institution:

  1. First, starting outside-in with the customer is absolutely essential in my eyes, and looking to improve the customer experience.
  2. Second, moving from there to the idea of delivering a 360-degree experience. It really takes into account the complete value chain from the customer on back and all of the participants in the process. It also focuses on creating efficiency while at the same time enabling regulatory and process compliance.
  3. Third, it’s absolutely critical to be outcome-driven. That ensures line of sight to business goals along with the technology implementation. I would add that you have to make sure, as this case study did, that your outcomes and your measurement KPIs are always tied to customer metrics and not just to your internal metrics.

With that approach as backdrop, case management was able to hit the pressure points that made a significant performance impact for the national bank.


  • Case management encourages capturing documents and removing paper from the process. This is critical and must be done at the start of the process to get the full performance improvement impact.
  • Case management provides the ability to integrate with other systems and orchestrate elements like customer account information from across the institution and the ability to make it securely available to all the case participants.
  • Case management assures that the other key documents related to the loan package are collected as needed and coordinated with the loan package.
  • Automating repetitive tasks that were previously slow and manual is an absolute must and a part of the dynamic case solution, where both structured and unstructured work can be organized.
  • Finally, but not least in importance by far, is ensuring that there is visibility and control in the processing environment. All of the different stakeholders in the process need to know, in real time, answers to questions like where is my loan application, have I balanced the workloads properly, what is happening in my department.

Because this is a case management implementation, underlying all of it is a platform that can ensure performance and compliance by providing guardrails and by capturing all of the external actions, documents and activities associated with the loan package and the customer, and in the end, allowing continuous improvement through learning and adaptation.

What a Difference a Case Makes

In our lending survey, personnel levels were identified as one of the challenges in the current loan environment. It is important then that significant productivity improvement is possible with case management. We have seen results on the order of a 70 percent reduction in staffing requirements, or viewed another way, if you’re in a growth mode, an increase in loan origination capacity. Driven by both labor and paper-related savings, we’ve seen an 80 percent plus reduction in cost per loan. These are critical levers to improving the loan processing environment.

In large part, these results are driven by dynamic case management’s ability to simplify and organize even the less structured activities associated with loan processing for all the participants, especially the knowledge work participants. What happens with a case management solution, as in this case study, is that you can provide built-in guidance for compliance and also alerts that enable better decisions and faster work completion. So you can see all data specific to the document and the case in one view, and integration to back-systems can be done seamlessly.

Financial institutions are demanding ways to streamline their increasingly complex process environments. For operational excellence, in particular in lending, I see that case management helps institutions do this -- successfully adapt to changing customer and regulatory demands. If properly executed, applying dynamic case management can deliver an important operational advantage and competitive edge.

Seems like a simple plan. What could go wrong? The majority of improvement initiatives fail to fulfill expectations because not enough time and attention is paid to what is often called the softer side -- the cultural and organizational aspects of change management behavior and adoption.

Making your Simple Plan Stick

The only constant both in the customer and regulatory sides of lending will be change. So we will need tools that give the ability for continuous process improvement, and we’ll need technology that lets the organizational and cultural elements come into play as well. This is consistent with the number one priority of the loan processing survey we did and with what I see happening in our markets and with our customers.

Case management provides both the flexibility to allow experts in the lending process to do their work, in an effective yet compliant manner, and the transparency and visibility for organizational change management.

For example, you can’t get away from hand-offs in most loan processing or servicing activities -- getting switched from one person to another, they say who are you, give me your name and account number, and you start over almost every time. Each interaction might be considered satisfactory but combined they deliver a poor customer experience.

This is where case management can streamline the process and at the same time help to understand what’s working well and what’s not working well. Because we’ll want to share both widely, so the organization can learn and adapt -- to do more of the things that are working well for individual experts and collectively, and avoid the things that aren’t working well.

Now that’s a simple plan that actually delivers!

P.S. Many thanks to the movie “A Simple Plan” for inspiring my article title. This dark comedy is about three friends who find millions of dollars in lost cash and devise a simple plan to keep the money if no-one claims it. Spoiler Alert: nothing turns out simple for them.

Editor's Note: To read more from Deb about adaptive case management:

-- How Adaptive Case Management Can Help Businesses Innovate