Next generation collections systems

March 17, 2009 by Jeff Bernstein

Part four

Improved change management process is one of the items at the very top of many collections professional’s wish list. In most legacy collections systems, the change management process is slow, expensive and labor intensive. It is not uncommon for an organization to take three, six or even 12 months to implement a system change, depending on the complexity of the request. Additionally, the expenses for a vendor or internal IT department to code, test and deploy the change can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Aside from the cost and timelines, the impact to the business can be suffocating, particularly when the business users are unable to keep up with rapidly changing requirements.

Change control
One of the most exciting and innovative features of next generation collection managementsoftwaresystems is the ability to make changes quickly and efficiently, without the need for hard coding or extensive testing. Additionally, change control responsibilities can be granted to business users, who can then be empowered to make system changes, without the support of the software vendors or their internal IT departments. If desired, the change controls can be segmented or shared to ensure (via secure access rights) that only qualified individuals are empowered to make changes and that their skill and knowledge align with the assigned access. Regardless of where the control lies, the entire organization benefits from a change management process that is fast, efficient and easy to manage.

The types of system changes that benefit from modern technology include just about any imaginable task. Simple screen or scripting changes fall on one side of the complexity spectrum, while modifications to database layouts lean towards the other end. Linking to other complimentary systems and data sources is also quicker and easier which enables hooks to be implemented in days and weeks rather than months or years.

Financial benefit
The financial benefit metric of improved change management is relatively straight forward, although it is not always possible to accurately gauge the benefit ahead of the change event itself. For example, the financial value can be calculated as the benefit of the change itself (considering only the time it is in production) ahead of when it would have been deployed in a legacy environment. Additionally, we must factor the labor and fees that would have been spent to implement the change in the legacy system, less what was actually spent.

For example, let’s assume a given change adds $50,000 in monthly benefits. Let’s also assume that we can implement and test the change in a next generation system in one week, while the same change could take six months in a legacy system. The value of the faster change is then $300,000 and we have saved a significant amount of money in labor and fees above and beyond that.

One of the key benefits of next generation systems is that these collections efficiency changes can be made in days or weeks rather than months or years. Considering that in a year an organization with modern technology could design and implement many beneficial changes rather than just a handful, the return on investment increases exponentially with additional change management activity.

My next blog will be the last in this “next generation collections systems” series and brings together the financial benefits highlighted in my previous blogs in the form of an ROI case study. Common objections and relevant considerations will also be discussed.

Stay tuned!