Investing in a new collections and recoveries platform is one of the most important decisions that an organisation can make and will have to live with for many years.
The current collections technology landscape is fast-moving and choosing a platform is no easy task. Get it right, your system will enable customer-friendly processes, improved collections performance and a lower cost to serve; get it wrong and the reverse can happen.
In this blog, I look at the key factors to consider when changing your collections platform.
1. Don’t assume upgrading with the same vendor is the best choice
Historically, the collections system market was dominated by a small number of established vendors with very similar offerings in terms of functionality, technology, and price. As such, it was no surprise that the easiest choice was to stick with the same vendor and upgrade, rather than looking at what else was out there.
It’s different now – new vendors, using new technology, mean there is much more choice and range of functionality, with a number of new entrants offering lighter, more flexible and cost-effective platforms.
Our advice: conduct a full market assessment before changing your platform
2. Weigh up the various options: self-build, CRM platform or off-the-shelf
New entrants such as Appian, Salesforce (and organisations utilising Salesforce) have created an alternative technology model enabling easier self-build. Considerations around self-build costs and bespoke complexity must be weighed against desired operational utility. It is important to ensure collections systems fundamentals are captured from the outset to provide a solid foundation on which to build bespoke capability.
Off-the-shelf collections systems may be proven and lower risk, but you must make sure they will meet your current and future needs.
Our advice: outline your requirements to help decide which route to take
3. Cloud-based platforms are the obvious choice but consider your support model
Cloud-hosting is a natural progression for almost all modern systems installations, typically providing a lower cost base and more flexible delivery. But it requires a bit of thought about the support model, including the option to use a fully managed service, which may reduce reliance and costs associated with internal IT resourcing and infrastructure.
Our advice: consider whether to manage in-house, or opt for a fully managed service
4. Your system must match your current (and future) business needs
This may seem obvious, but all too often we’ve seen software decisions based on very generalised requirements meaning the final solution is not optimal for the business needs.
Key factors significant to the organisation will ultimately drive the decision, including maturity of the organisation, budget and benefits, risk appetite, scalability, IT architecture, and future ambition.
Our advice: invest time in requirements definition and rigorous RFI/RFP/demo assessments
5. Don’t overlook omni/opti-channel communications capability
Having an omni/opti-channel model (as opposed to multi-channel) is a must these days to provide seamless customer interactions across voice, IVR, IVM, SMS, letter, webchat, and self-service portals.
As well as helping your customers, you’ll also reap the rewards in terms of the data insight this approach provides, including contact data, preference data, and advanced analytics.
Our advice: make sure omni/opti-channel is one of your upgrade requirements
6. Give more control to business users
Modern collections platforms are moving quickly towards enabling business users to configure and make simple system changes.
By removing the need for IT or technical developers having to configure systems, we are seeing a new era where efficiency, transparency, and ease is allowing organisations to keep up with the pace and ever-changing needs. Faster delivery of small changes at much lower cost is now a reality.
Our advice: look for systems that provide more levels of end user configuration
7. Don’t be scared to accept an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
The product advancements and improved overall architecture have allowed vendors to work with organisations in a more effective manner and ultimately deliver an acceptable MVP in much more aggressive timescales.
The benefits include avoiding typical ‘big project’ risks, whilst quickly enabling a base to be formed on which future enhancements can be prioritised and delivered over time. This often works best in complex multi-product / silo / country scenarios.
Our advice: consider the benefits of a ‘fast-start’ MVP
8. Your system needs to have real-time integration
Batch process and files are increasingly becoming obsolete in the digital age, not least in leveraging external data such as CRA, CATO, and Open Banking. They also result in repeat contacts across multiple channels which doesn’t make for happy customers.
Platforms now need to provide real-time capability via API layers and web hooks, which enable greater operational flex and improved customer treatment effectiveness.
Our advice: make sure real-time integration is one of your key requirements
9. The new platform should support modularity
It’s becoming more commonplace for organisations to use a modular approach to their system so they can ‘pick and choose’ capability to fit their business needs (for example, a third party / DCA placement module).
Your new system should include this capability for not only add-ons from the system itself, but also additional technologies (for example, digital communications or digital affordability tools).
Our advice: make sure modularity is one of your key requirements
10. Bear in mind enhanced decisioning and modelling capability
Most collections systems now have reasonably advanced decisioning capability, but the best system will also enable iterative test and learn processes, with model building and simulation capability.
Consider how your systems may also be able to incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities to help with continuous improvement of customer segmentation and treatment path selection, as well as customer engagement and behaviours.
Our advice: make decisioning, along with test and learn, one of your key requirements
When you’re thinking about the future of your collections systems, build a solid list of requirements, undertake a thorough market assessment, followed by an RFP process to help inform your final decision, before you move into procurement and contracting.
Arum is the market leader in supporting organisations assess collection & recoveries platform options, capability, and business fit. With over 20 years’ experience (and 500+ successful projects), we can also help you with the system implementation where necessary.
If you’d like to discuss anything related to the above please feel free to contact me directly or connect with me on LinkedIn.
Director of Advisory