Bank of Missouri knew it wasn't just battling inefficiencies with its recent IT project — it was also waging a war against complacency.
Two years ago, the Perryville, Mo., company's chief executive, R. David Crader, asked the information technology department for the one initiative it would like to complete. With the company's rapid growth — its assets have grown by roughly 50% and branches have doubled in the last six years — a way to save time and reduce errors in its business processes was at the top of the division's wish list.
It embarked on a project to simplify how staff completes a variety of tasks ranging from onboarding new employees to handling certain customer requests. The $1.2 billion-asset company selected Jack Henry's jhaEnterprise Workflow to automate both internal and customer-facing multistep processes.
"This is a big focus for us going forward," said Christopher Congiardo, systems analyst manager at Bank of Missouri. "A lot of time has been spent developing and analyzing how we free up our own time. What are the processes that tie us up?"
Utilizing technology was just one piece of the initiative, Congiardo said. He also needed to get the bank's employees on board, since they would be the ones actually completing the various tasks he was looking to make more efficient.
The bank created a focus group of various division leaders to discuss the need for the improvements and the importance of consistency. The group was dubbed The Hopper Project in honor of Grace Hopper, noted computer scientist and rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. In the 1970s Hopper called "We've always done it this way" the most dangerous phrase in language.
"The buy-in was very critical," Congiardo said. "We wanted to create a culture of questioning processes and asking, 'Why are we doing things this way?' "
Most employees were receptive once they understood why the changes were being made and how it would make their jobs easier, Congiardo said.
Bank of Missouri has improved almost a dozen processes through its initiative so far, including automating parts of the processing of requests from customers for refunds on deposit fees. That was a particularly error-prone process, as employees were supposed to enter the branch where the account was opened in the request, but they often listed the branch where the request was made.
Now staff members just enter the account number and the correct branch is automatically identified. The bank estimates that bringing automation to this process has saved it roughly 54 hours each month, equaling about $1,000 in savings a month.
The bank plans to review another 10 to 15 processes this year.
"When you get a new workflow, it is really just the first version and you will revisit that time and time again," Congiardo said. "Some of it is just people leveraging the [Jack Henry] product more."