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Digital transformation in Financial Services: how to plan your spend for maximum impact

Every financial institution is prioritising digital transformation as an essential part of their strategy. The challenge is which areas to change first.

Digital transformation can involve a multitude of projects and outcomes. For example, it can involve incremental improvements improve process automation, form digitisation, data collection, customer journeys and product and service offerings.

All these projects involve introducing or improving technology and working methods to deliver the change.

Decisions around which to prioritise require a deep understanding of your unique value proposition and overall strategy; and what your competitors are doing or might do. They also need a clear view of your budget for the next few cycles, and your longer-term investment plans, so you can scope the size of your transformation.

The strategic transformation dilemma

We often see another dilemma among our clients – whether to go for quick wins versus longer-term strategic transformation.

Strategic design and build are always the preference and are viewed as much better than something that sounds ‘tactical’ – a word stakeholders often associate with wasted effort.

However, strategic transformation does not deliver instant results and, with the pace of change and competition in the industry, senior stakeholders want to see a structured roadmap that achieves the end vision while making incremental steps.

So how do you balance measurable return on investment (ROI) and long-term results?

Here are the five biggest things you need to get right when prioritising digital spend, from our digital transformation team’s experience helping clients in this area.

1. Start with the customer

Understand why you are transforming. Get a clear view of what problems you are solving and for whom. This will drive your spending allocation and benefits tracking.

2. Then look beyond the customer

Companies often think digital transformation is only for customer-facing improvements such as around your user interface and delivering an omnichannel experience. But you can often find dramatic benefits in your internal operations too.

Don’t forget the experience for your internal team and the knock-on impact this will have on customer experience.

Also, the war for talent in financial services is increasingly fierce. You need your best talent working on highly challenging, differentiating work – not monotonous activities that you could automate.

3. Conduct a thorough discovery and target operating model before you begin

This should incorporate an assessment of your current state. Imagine planning a transformation then encountering, in week 12, fundamental limits around your legacy technology or a pressing regulatory deadline that prevents delivery of critical items.

Invest time upfront in uncovering the elephants in the room and having the difficult conversations with a carefully defined stakeholder group. This will reap rewards long-term.

4. Create and use a RACI model

Digital transformation programmes can touch almost every element of an organisation. A RACI model helps clarify who you need to engage with, and in what capacity. Not having a RACI can lead to unnecessary friction in an already challenging change project.

5. Benefits tracking

ROI, benefits tracking, key performance indicators (KPI) and objectives and key results (OKR) – there are many ways to track outcomes and they all have merits. But organisations often struggle to connect the goals of the transformation, board-level milestones, and team backlogs.

For example, if the board is working to milestones in a linear waterfall method, but the project teams delivering the work are working in an agile, backlog-oriented way, that will create a disconnect.

It is essential to align working methods across the whole organisation. Doing this correctly creates a bird’s eye view for senior management. This connects the high-level status with the granular backlog items, providing full transparency on progress.

Simplifying digital transformation

Deciding how to prioritise spending and resources in your digital transformation is not easy. But using these five actions as a guideline will help you simplify the decisions.

Start by investing time in truly defining your purpose and explore how you translate this into a customer offering; apply these same guiding principles within the organisation; identify any blockers early; and agree who needs to be involved, and how you’ll track success.

This will lead to a strategic roadmap of transformation that incorporates quick wins and achieves your end vision with buy-in and support from the whole organisation.



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Sarah Carver

Sarah Carver

Head of Digital

Delta Capita

Member since

20 Jul 2022



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