nCino implementations have the potential to touch nearly all aspects of a bank’s operational workflows, data management system, and customer journey. Implementations of any new technology can be fraught with delays. After completing dozens of implementations with our partner nCino, we’ve learned a lot about how to help banks ensure successful implementations. Here’s a look at our Top Ten Best Practices that banks need to address before kicking off an nCino implementation:
- Spend the time to fully design your system prior to building. The number one piece of “if I could do it all over again” feedback from banks on their nCino implementations is that they wish they had spent more time fully designing the system prior to building and testing. The goal of design is to discuss and document agreed upon expectations for each nCino feature. Additionally, all “lists” should be finalized in the design phase (i.e. Product Catalog, Covenants, Policy exceptions, Collateral Types, etc.)
- Emphasize a Common Process. Most financial institutions will claim a separate origination process is required by line of business, product, or amount. To limit further complications with workflow, roles, profiles, and training, keep the process similar for all originations. At the end of the day, all areas perform the same function: lending money to a specific entity for a specific purpose.
- Limit Customization. nCino’s packaged functionality will meet all critical requirements of an origination system. For an efficient first release, stick to out-of-the-box (OOTB) functionality with light configuration to eliminate complications with future patches and product releases.
- Limit Security and Validation Rules. Many financial institutions have the urge to configure a very structured origination process within nCino. One best practice is to leave the system as open as possible and after a few months of usage, let user feedback and/or “bad behavior” drive the need for validations and other rules. This will eliminate the effort associated with the design, build and testing of unnecessary functionality.
- Enforce Project Governance. Develop a structured implementation approach with documented intermittent checkpoints and approvals. Always ensure everyone involved is on the same page and milestones are on track to be met.
- Establish a Common Vision Prior to Design. Before even kicking off a nCino implementation project, ensure all stakeholders are aligned on expectations and results for the first release. Meeting closely aligned expectations is difficult, but attempting to meet misaligned expectations is impossible.
- Establish a Target Process, Do Not Build for Today’s Process. Design the nCino application around an agreed upon target process. Do not attempt to build the current origination process into nCino. The resulting process should be a middle ground, requiring both configuration changes to nCino and updates to business process.
- Do not Underestimate the Importance Change Management. The nCino application covers many aspects of the origination process. Thoughtfully weigh the training and support effort needed for a successful launch. Take into account the deviation from current process, user group size, and end user technology skill level. A perfectly designed and executed nCino application can easily fail with a weak change management and internal communications plan.
- Stick to the 80% Rule. As a first release, plan to deliver eighty percent of the end user “wish list.” Eighty percent of the requested functionality can be delivered within a reasonable time frame, but the additional twenty percent has the ability to completely sidetrack the project due to overly complicated design and high build effort.
- Allow Application to Drive Final Design. Not every detail of nCino has to be designed prior to go-live (i.e. Document Manager statuses, or activities in each loan stage). Allow users to gain a few months of experience using nCino to fully understand the process and capabilities, prior to finalizing every detail of design.
From our experience, those banks that tackle these top ten will greatly increase the overall success of their implementation.