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Interview: OTP Bank Digital Transformation of Corporate Banking
OTP Bank Group is one of the largest independent financial service providers in Central and Eastern Europe with a range of retail and corporate banking services. We’ve recently interviewed Liliya Lazepko, Board Member, Operations and IT at OTP Bank Ukraine. Read on to discover how OTP Bank automated its corporate banking division and scaled the solution across the organization, and what role their team played in this project.
Creatio: Thank you for finding the time for this interview. We’d like to start with a question about OTP Bank’s IT strategy. Could you tell us about the bank’s key IT projects?
Liliya Lazepko: In today's digital era, embracing the latest technology trends is a must for any business that wants to stay ahead of the competition. For OTP Bank, digitalization is at the heart of its IT strategy. Our key focuses are on implementing cutting-edge technology solutions to automate our business processes and going digital and paperless. A great example of digitalization in our business is the implementation of CRM Creatio, which enabled us to not only optimize specific processes, but also automate the work of the entire corporate banking division.
Creatio: Let us dive deeper into this project then. What factors prompted you to launch a process automation project for corporate banking?
Liliya Lazepko: Automating our corporate division was initiated by our corporate banking leaders. Their primary need was for CRM software for sales force automation. We didn’t have tools to automate corporate banking line - we’ve used Excel spreadsheets and email to manage most of the tasks. There was no centralized customer and prospect database, which led to various complications. For instance, managers could not track customer interactions or see call reports. As a leading corporate banking service provider in Ukraine, OTP Bank set out to find a solution to improve services for clients. A few years ago, we came to the conclusion that we needed a process automation software and opted for Creatio (formerly bpm’online – editor’s note).
Creatio: What were the key features that made Creatio stand out from other solutions considered?
Liliya Lazepko: The platform’s capabilities appeared to be well-suited for our business needs. In the final stage of software selection, we asked three vendors to present how our corporate lending process can be set up and automated with their solutions. Creatio was the fastest and the most effective of the three.
I would also like to mention Creatio’s low-code development capabilities that enable citizen developers - employees without deep coding skills - to configure the system. Finding qualified software developers with specific industry knowledge is a challenge these days. Meanwhile, to customize Creatio, users only need basic IT skills, analytical thinking, and business processes knowledge. We have proved it in practice: during a software selection stage, our dedicated team received basic skills for working with the system and was able to perform part of the set up themselves. It was one of the key factors in choosing Creatio. Now Creatio is at the heart of our digital transformation strategy for corporate banking.
Creatio: Regarding the actual implementation project, what were the main stages and how long did the deployment take?
Liliya Lazepko: The whole project took two years, which seems quite long. But a great amount of work has been done - to date, we’ve automated 80% of our corporate banking processes. This is impressive considering the fact that we even hadn’t had process models outlined at the beginning of the implementation process.
The project consisted of two parts: sales processes automation and corporate banking processes automation. Implementing the CRM system was just a part of a large-scale project that transformed into a fully-fledged business process automation initiative.
As part of the sales force automation project we’ve streamlined sales forecasting, task management, guided selling, KPIs tracking, and more. We actively use the system to collect and store customer data and communication history starting from the first point of contact. This allows all employees that are involved in the sales and customer-facing operations to have access to the required information about our clients. The system lets us keep track of sales reps’ performance and analyze the data we receive.
Creatio: And how did sales processes look like prior to automation?
Liliya Lazepko: The only automated business process we had was loan origination. The rest of our operations were performed manually. It was quite inefficient, first and foremost, for process execution control. Now everything has been automated. We set up a unified and standardized lending process, quick access to the information about current state for each loan application, and a person working on it. We also are now able to measure process performance, identify bottlenecks and manage data.
Creatio: Corporate lending is not the only process that was automated, right? Could you tell us about other project deliverables?
Liliya Lazepko: That’s right, the project is much broader than just automation of one process. For instance, we also automated a special rates approval process. Customer centricity is not a mere word for us. We frequently offer individual conditions to our clients, like special terms for cash and settlement services or interest rates. The entire flow of creating and processing the request for special conditions is fully automated in Creatio.
Moreover, we use the system to manage overdraft requests, which is quite a popular service among customers with urgent needs. With that in mind, we needed a solution that would help accelerate this process, which we managed to achieve using Creatio.
Creatio: Bank is a huge ecosystem with multiple information systems. It would be interesting to know how CRM system was integrated into the existing IT architecture.
Liliya Lazepko: First, we integrated the platform with a data warehouse (DWH), an e-tendering system, the OTP Bank website, and the two core banking systems. By the way, integration with one of those was performed by the bank’s in-house team working with Creatio solutions. We are also going to integrate Creatio with our online banking app to offer customer self-service capabilities. On top of that, thanks to collaboration with external services like YouControl, we will be able to improve our scoring. And it’s far from an excessive list of our plans.
Creatio: You mentioned having integrated one of the core banking systems without vendor’s help. What were the other areas of project managed solely by OTP Bank’s team?
Liliya Lazepko: That’s right, this integration is only a part of the project scope carried out by our specialists. For instance, we built and automated the tender guarantee issuing for clients that participate in tenders. This tool had to be simple and intuitive for the customers to manage the process effectively. Thanks to the upgrade, customers can now apply from our website or any of the tendering system integrated with Creatio. Thereafter, the requests are sent directly to the system as-is and are authorized according to the process immediately.
Since the processing of these requests is usually time-sensitive, a large-scale automation at different process stages was required. It included redirecting customer applications from the bank website to the platform, enriching customer data from tendering systems, routing internal bank applications approval process, and auto creating and filling in tender bank guarantees. These changes allowed the bank to issue tender guarantees quickly and at a low cost.
Creatio: What role did the team play in this project?
Liliya Lazepko: I would say that they played a vital role. At the beginning of the project, we gathered a small team of three specialists who served as a bridge between OTP Bank and professional services providers - a vendor and an integration partner (Banza, formerly TSi). Throughout the entire implementation project, our team kept building up their expertise in Creatio usage and administration, and the efforts definitely paid off. We can now handle most process automations ourselves. We only request for a vendor or integrator’s support to do some integrations that we lack competence in or to modify processes that were configured by the contractors earlier.
Creatio: What’s next on the agenda of CRM platform development? Do you intend to automate other banking divisions together with Creatio?
Liliya Lazepko: Absolutely. We have broad-scale plans especially that now, after a successful corporate banking automation, many departments are interested in automating their work too. Therefore, our Creatio project team is in high demand these days.
OTP Bank’s next project is account opening automation. Our customers have to visit the branch twice: first to bring their documents and then to pick up their account number details. Now that clients can submit all required documents remotely, we are aiming to minimize the need for visiting our branches to just one time at most. Documents assessment will be automated too.
We also are now transforming sales processes. Upon the CRM system’s implementation, our sales representatives have come up with a number of questions regarding the sales workflow itself. Therefore, we launched a dedicated business project to educate our employees about sales methodologies and the customer relationship management best practices. After which, our employees were able to suggest some adjustments and improvements to the system. Thereafter, we started the second project phase.
Creatio: What was the biggest challenge for OTP Bank during the project?
Liliya Lazepko: It is natural that such a large-scale project had certain complications, especially since we didn’t have our business processes outlined. I’m pleased we were able to get this project off the ground, launch the system successfully, and scale it to other divisions.
One of the specific challenges we faced was the synchronization of all parties of the project – the vendor, the integrator, and OTP Bank’s team. There is usually one party responsible for the final result, and we had two contractors and an internal team in our case. However, I am completely satisfied with the way we managed the project together - our joint efforts accelerated the development and testing processes significantly.
Creatio: What about user adoption? A lot of experts claim it is one of the most challenging parts of implementing a new technology.
Liliya Lazepko: I wouldn’t say we faced any difficulties in this matter, especially since process automation was our front-office employees’ initiative in the first place.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect was for employees to get used to filling in all customer data updates in accordance with a pre-designed process in the system. Automation is not a silver bullet that keeps all processes going with no human involvement at all; the employees need to enter correct data in a system. Thanks to Creatio’s user-friendly interface, our employees learned the ins and outs of the platform quite quickly considering that we hadn’t had any automation tools for the corporate banking line at all.
Currently, there are 700 employees working with the Creatio system: 600 of them are corporate banking representatives and the other 100 manage Private and Premium banking. We keep receiving very positive feedback from them. By the way, retail processes automation was also our employees’ initiative – they wanted to adopt the best practices after the corporate banking division. It is already on the final stage of a pilot project. We are also looking forward to implementing the CRM system on mobile devices, which will bring customer relations to a new level.