Implementations can be thrown off track by blind spots that add costs and time, and result in a lack of confidence in the overall solution. At Bridgeforce, we routinely help clients identify blind spots and take steps to ensure a smooth implementation. Here is our list of the top 10 critical blind spots to watch for — all of which can be managed and avoided if you take action early.

10 Blind Spots to Watch for When Implementing Digital Technology

1. 'Out of the Box' Descriptions

The vendor's generic screen text and customer journeys are written for all clients. You'll need to customize it for your organization with unique messaging and copy, customer journey flows, branding and opt-in/opt-out experiences.

Blind spot risk: Customization and development adds to your timeline and costs.

Steps to Take

Secure Involvement: Engage resources from compliance, customer experience and marketing teams when vendors are providing demos so that each team can ask the appropriate questions to ensure that they get what they need from this solution.

Identify SME Engagement: Before vendor selection is complete, require that each business partner assess the work effort and resource needs to make required changes. Then, you can determine the impact on the project timeline and budget. This sets expectations and informs effort and subsequent timelines.

2. Not Using Vendor's Service Providers

Think twice before taking a pass on your vendor's selected providers. There are four major integrations that must be considered: payments, SMS, emails, and letters. Generally, using the vendor's partners will be an easier onboarding experience with less required customization.

Blind spot risk: Difficulty with onboarding and customization adds to your timeline and costs.

Steps to Take

Interrogate During Vendor Demos: Discuss available integrations during vendor demos so that you can make an informed assessment. This way, you can weigh trade-offs of using vendor partners against internal/enterprise solutions. The output of this key decision has a direct impact on your timeline and budget prior to project kickoff.

3. Lack of Source System Knowledge

You'll need SMEs who have in-depth knowledge of all the affected source systems in order to properly map data for placement files and return files.

Blind spot risk: Depending on how many systems you use, lacking source system familiarity could add weeks and months to your deployment timeline.

Steps to Take

Plan Ahead: Determine early which data will be passed to the vendor in the placement file each day. Ensure that you know how the data that is returned to the source systems will be mapped. Then, begin sourcing those items.

4. Counting on the Vendor for Operationalization

Operationalizing the digital solution falls entirely on you because a software company defines a completed installation only as "deployment of the software." Vendors aren't focused on your operations - but you should be.

Blind spot risk: If you're too late recognizing the need to operationalize, you will slow progress, extend your timeframe, and may face additional costs if the vendor has to pause activity.

Steps to Take

Build Operationalization into Your Timeline: Ensure that your implementation plan considers time for strategy design and coding; messaging content creation and deployment; reporting design; procedure updates; integration with control self-assessments; and analytics. Vendors may provide some light support in configuring the application parameters, but anything else beyond that is not their core business model.

Create Workflow in Advance: Predetermine your processes and workflows (for example, is the goal of digital collections to drive more self-service or to improve interaction that ultimately connects to an agent?). The end-to-end internal operational experience and external customer experience is unique to each organization - and yours is no exception.

5. Timeline Based on Vendor's Standard Deployment

The vendor will assume that several key dependencies have been finalized by your organization, such as strategy design. This can create an unrealistic, often ambitious timeline.

Blind spot risk: Setting false expectations across the organization. If the timeline is unrealistic, the necessary adjustments that you'll need to make will lengthen time to completion and could negatively influence staff perceptions.

Steps to Take

Determine Current State Readiness: Standard deployment schedules are achievable if your organization is ready. To ensure readiness, complete an initial working session and assessment. Consider elements such as outreach strategies, customer experience, reporting, roles and responsibilities, and compliance requirements.

6. Undervaluing the Need for End-User System Expertise

Once implemented, a technical solution requires technical expertise by the end-user. Alternative support from your vendor can be costly and in short supply. Don't overlook the importance of having in-house expertise to make ongoing changes and evolve your strategy.

Blind spot risk: Lack of ability to make changes in-house may result in increased costs for outside support.

Steps to Take

Create Power Users: Identify power users within your organization who are familiar with the new technology. Arm them with a clear roadmap to onboard and transfer knowledge of the system from the vendor to secure a more successful post-implementation experience. By leveraging this intelligence, you can make changes as you go to better reach your customers through their preferred channels and increase the likelihood of getting paid.

7. User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is Not Provided by the Vendor

The plans or scripts for UAT are carefully coordinated and require attention to detail. UAT includes creation of test cases, conditioning test data, running test cycles in test bed, and ensuring controls so as not to adversely impact "real customers" in production. UAT will likely fall under your responsibilities because the vendor's obligation starts and ends with the technical install.

Blind spot risk: Being unprepared for UAT will throw off your timeline. Additionally, the risk of quickly implementing the UAT plan could cause reputational or regulatory damage if customers are negatively affected.

Steps to Take

Tap Experience: Identify experienced implementation resources well before the testing milestone. This implementation team must have knowledge of both the vendor's solution and your internal operating systems in order to create and oversee effective test plans and scripts.

8. Internal Efforts can Become Overwhelming

Your organization will be responsible for many deliverables to the vendor for implementation - a fact that is often overlooked during vendor pitches and demos.

Blind spot risk: Failure to provide deliverables according to the schedule can affect the integrity of the implementation and alter the timeline.

Steps to Take

Ensure Commitment: Make sure that the deployment timeframes provided by vendors are clear. Your organization should plan to dedicate resources that represent the following functional areas and roles: IT, Operations, Strategies & Analytics, Customer Experience, Compliance, Ops Risk, and Program Management.

9. Vendor's Scope Doesn't Include Additional Development and Reporting

Standard reporting packages offered by vendors tend to be high-level and designed as "out of the box" solutions for all clients. If your organization wants to see account-level detail, however, it will be your responsibility to put in the time and effort to uncover this level of information.

Blind spot risk: Missing reports and data that were expected as part of implementation can leave an organization scrambling and result in a lack of confidence in the vendor solution and ultimately, your decision-making capability.

Steps to Take

Review Data: It is very important that your organization has the right data, has confidence in the quality of that data, and can distribute information in appropriate reports. Confirming the MIS/Reports needed for deployment requires review by your organization to understand 'what' data is available and 'how' to extract the information for internal consumption.

10. Extra Time is Required to Establish New Short Codes for SMS

The application process with cellphone carriers to obtain short codes can take between 6-12 weeks to set up.

Blind spot risk: Without these short codes, communications though SMS will be delayed - affecting overall digitalization launch.

Steps to Take

Start Early: If your organization requires a new short code, make sure to request it prior to your project kickoff. This will eliminate unexpected delays in your implementation plan.

Upgrading Collections Technology Can Be Tricky

Determining digital readiness, selecting the right-fit vendor and managing a seamless implementation all bring unique challenges to upgrading collections technology. See our webinar series that covers all these areas for more details on how to manage a tech upgrade and vendor selection with confidence. If you’d like more information and are interested in being ably supported in your journey, contact us today. We'll set up time to learn more about your project and get you started.

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