Why there’s more to modern commercial lending than workflow

May 21, 2021

There’s no doubt that the future of commercial lending is digital. But many digitization programs fall at the first hurdle – by looking at complex lending processes from a purely workflow perspective.

The aim of any digital transformation program should be to eliminate manual intervention, connect disparate systems and improve efficiency and productivity with automation. The question is: where do you start?

For many large banks, the answer has traditionally been to buy an enterprise workflow tool. With this business process management (BPM) technology, firms plan to effectively glue together their existing lending systems and automate many previously manual processes.

But the solution doesn’t stick. Because all you end up doing is replicating the same old routine using a different type of software.

Until now, for example, you may have been using Word documents to define and review all aspects of a lending arrangement. And you may have been pushing those files through the approval chain by email.

A digital BPM tool can take emails out of the lending process, but alone it can’t totally transform the process. You could still be moving the same documents around from person to person – just with workflow rather than emails.

As a result, the data in your documents may still need to be rekeyed multiple times into different downstream systems. Then, because that data is basically locked into the documents, you can’t use it to dictate what happens next in the workflow – or make it simultaneously accessible to others up or down the approval chain.

In short, where’s the information model? One of the most important outputs of a lending transformation program is a single flow of accurate, fully validated data, and systems that know what information you need to capture, when you need to capture it, where it must go and how it should be viewed and used.

What about the domain expertise? When you build your whole lending transformation project on a BPM tool, you’re essentially starting from a blank page. You’re either wrapping a workflow program around legacy processes or configuring new processes from the ground up – which could potentially take years.

Instead, you need technology and services that understand the complexities of lending at an operational level – and give you all the tools you need to manage a commercial facility throughout its life cycle.

With a single, purpose-built lending platform, an expert provider has already defined gold-standard processes for risk management, calculations, decision making and compliance. So, why waste time and money reinventing the wheel?

As well as integrating with and complementing your own systems, the technology should help you automate your processes from end to end with – yes – a robust workflow engine. But here, workflow capabilities are only a part of the solution, not the whole story.

Commercial lending’s digital future doesn’t start and end with workflow. For long-term, future-proof transformation, expertise in lending businesses, data and processes is the skill that really counts.

About the Author
David Ratnage, Head of Commercial Lending Strategy, Europe, FIS
David RatnageHead of Commercial Lending Strategy, Europe, FIS

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