Collections & Recoveries

Improving collections strategies in BAU operations through agile design

Improving collections strategies in BAU operations through agile design


Organisations today expect fast results and they want improvements to align with changing business needs as well as these improvements being more engrained in the company’s ways of working. Working in an agile way allows us to help support these business needs and Arum believes that the agile approach is an excellent way to design and apply changes to collections strategies within Business as Usual operations.

On a previous engagement, an agile design process was used with the aim of significantly reducing the time to design collections strategy changes and improve the overall quality of the design, whilst also gaining greater business buy-in to the final results. It was recommended that the best way to implement the redesign was in a series of agile code drops over a period of 3-24 months. Doing this in any other way would have resulted in a large project with a long delivery time thereby not meeting one of the key defined aims of the implementation – quick returns.

The biggest advantage to the client was undoubtedly being able to have the changes promoted into the system earlier than would have been the case using, for example, the more traditional waterfall methodology. This in turn enabled them to benefit from the changes sooner.

Agile working turned out to be a very effective and efficient way to work as a team. The primary aim of the agile methodology used was to break the work down into component parts, keeping elements simple and delivering small tranches of work quickly before moving on to the next piece. Timescales for designing business process changes were reduced by the adoption of an agile design methodology and overall benefits were faster delivery and greater efficiency. Each iteration was presented to the client once complete and they were then able to provide us with early feedback allowing us to deliver the right quality of change. It also allowed flexibility so when things inevitably changed we were able to re-prioritise the remaining improvements.

There are a number of reasons to become more agile when improving collections strategies in BAU operations:

  1. From a business point of view, it is increasingly important to be able to adapt collection strategy improvements to changing business needs and to be able to deliver more value to the business.
  2. To embed strategy improvements in the ways of working within the organisation.
  3. Since there are almost always limitations in lead-time and resources (time, personnel and money), you have to work as efficiently as possible. This agile approach helps the improvement team to deliver quickly, and deliver maximum value within budget

Using an agile methodology can also help to improve knowledge transfer and the collaboration between the process improvement team and the stakeholders. Agile iterations enable frequent interactions between those involved in process improvement, involving the process improvement team much more in the change process than a more traditional waterfall approach. The agile approach also helps the team to focus on efficient deployment of the process changes. These changes can then be adopted into the live environment and the benefits felt straight away. Working under a more traditional waterfall method means the client having to wait until all changes had been developed and tested before go-live. This, in turn, means that the benefits aren’t felt until further down the line.

Team members appreciate this way of working since it helps them to contribute value and to develop their knowledge and skills. In our experience team members are very positive about the agile approach as it allows them to feel that they have contributed to the end result. The improved collaboration, focus on deployment, and personal experience of the process improvement team leads to a bigger impact in the organisation, and therefore to increased performance and results. Also, they value the support of the other team members, which helps them to learn from each other, and to further develop their process and change management skills. Finally, by working in an agile way the improvement team gets a good understanding of this methodology which can be used to better support other teams in the organisation that are moving towards working in an agile way.

Conclusion

This blog describes the successes we have had using an agile methodology to deliver improvements to collections strategies within BAU operations.

Ultimately, the biggest benefit for companies in the collections space today is being able to get the improvements working for them in a shorter timescale leading to improved collections.

If you would like to discuss adopting agile design practices in your collections operation please contact us.

Mark Mitchell – Consultant