Middleburg Bank (est. 1924) is a full-service commercial bank in Virginia. Over the past ten years, Middleburg has grown to include 13 financial service centers, an operation center, and over $1.2 billion in assets. Middleburg Bank has differentiated itself from other banks by providing superior customer service and a more personalized banking experience.
With the company’s recent expansion, it became evident that their existing information system was not adequately supporting their growth strategy. It was inevitable that senior management finally made the decision to incur the expense and implement a new Intranet system. As Marybeth Muir, the bank’s Senior V.P. of Process Improvement, put it, “Our biggest problem was using information and communicating about ideas with each other…It’s as if a car manufacturing company needed to go on a scavenger hunt to find nuts and bolts every time they put a fender on”.
Middleburg Bank selected Social Business Interactive (SBI) to plan, develop, and implement a new information system. SBI would be responsible for building the new Intranet (see the SharePoint 2013 Intranet Case Study at www.SocialBiz.ca) as well as managing the transition from the existing system. Among the challenges of the transition process was Content Migration, transferring the existing content on their shared drives to the new Intranet.
Assessment: Understanding Existing Content & Goals
Middleburg Bank’s content was stored on shared drives that would have to be e-mailed, printed, or handed out if anyone else around the company wanted to access the information. “It was almost like working from a filing cabinet… this represented bad content management and workflow governance.”
Audit: Data Classification & Migration Decisions
Across the company, Middleburg Banks began working in teams to better manage their content. The company explained that their information was out of control, and therefore asked their employees to take inventory of the files they needed and didn’t need. “We have almost 700,000 documents. We actively decided that anything that had not been touched for 6 months would be put away in the archives.”
With the guidance of Social Business Interactive, Middleburg Bank systematically went through all of the company files to determine the nature of the data and metadata, and applied classifications (i.e. the owners, security levels, sub-classes, locations, lines of business) to this data. They went through their shared drives and analyzed the nature of the content (i.e. types of files and data) to be transferred.
Mapping: Determining Where Content Resides within the Information Architecture
Middleburg Bank utilized SBI’s mapping tools to document their existing files and decide on the proper destinations within the new structure.
- What is the file?
- Where should it be stored?
- Who should have access to it?
Middleburg decided to migrate all of their data to destinations based on the same permissions that existed in their old system. For example, “We migrated everything from the retail bank to the retail bank site… Probably not the best long-term solution, but this got us over the bridge for now. This approach allowed changes to come incrementally so that it would be easier for employees. That was a big compromise getting us to the next step.”
Governance: Determining Ownership, Permissions &
“Governance was a new concept for our company,” and SBI helped us understand how it fit into our new information system. The ownership of information and permissions, the idea that some people are in control of information and information flow, needed to be openly communicated and appreciated by all employees.
When migrating data it is absolutely essential that only the right employees have access to authorized data. For example, tellers should not be able to see information reserved for the HR department. “Moving forward, we now have a site administrator who is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the site. We have also established a governance teams with champions and owners. They will have regular meetings with measurable results.”
Content Preparation: Review, Re-write & Re-format Data
Social Business Interactive put new processes and procedures in place to rewrite and reform certain types of content, making certain that the files being transferred were compatible with the new system. The Credit Administration Department’s access database had some content that need to be changed in order for it to work properly within the new environment. SBI linked the access databases and the access files. Middleburg implemented these changes and carried out these procedures based on SBI’s recommendations.
Process & Execution: How to Execute Migration & Augmentation Tools / Techniques
3 Part Migration Execution:
The Dry Run - Estimate the time, based on number of files and size
Run the Migration (on the staging environment) - Ensure the migration strategy is successful
Run the Content Migration (on the production environment)
Even though Middleburg bank had over 700,000 files, they did not have to resort to costly commercial Migration software licensing and additional customization. SBI used native SharePoint scripts and tools to safely migrate the files from the old system to the new.
Validation: Verifying Data / Metadata Integrity to Ensure Success
SBI made sure all of the files from the shared drives were properly migrated over to the assigned locations within the site and sub-sites. For example, Middleburg Bank’s shared drive ‘projects folder’ was successfully migrated to the Project site. At the same time, every employee and department systematically reviewed its files.
Adoption: Ensuring Users Can Find & Use Content
Employees began using the new Intranet and became acclimated to the new environment. On September 16th, 2013, the Intranet launch date, “We were able to function without having to go backwards.” It’s a learning curve, but it will get easier tomorrow and even easier the day after that.” At this point, Middleburg’s mapping issues that had simply transferred over from the old system could be smoothed out. For instance, when an employee couldn’t find a form that she frequently used to help calculate the rate for a home equity line of credit, the document was located, and posted under forms where it could be easily accessed by everybody. As the adoption phase progressed, Middleburg was able to decommission the shared drives and replace them with SharePoint.
By utilizing the results of SBI’s preliminary consultation, which assessed different migration possibilities and helped determine the solution that would work best for Middleburg Bank, SBI helped to safely and securely transition the bank to a superior information platform to support their expanding business. With SBI’s comprehensive Intranet strategy, Middleburg Bank did not have to turn to expensive data migration tools. SBI provided an end-to-end solution that kept Middleburg Bank secure and operational throughout the entire process. This was achieved by combining expert knowledge of the technology required and a strategic, thorough approach where time and energy were dedicated understanding Middleburg Bank’s Information Architecture and their goals.
Revitalizing a SharePoint-based bank intranet
As John MacKenzie, a former strategic manager at TransCanada Pipeline, said: “It’s easier to move natural gas from one end of the continent to the other than to keep a dozen workers moving in the same direction.” The task can be much harder if the goal is to bring together thousands of bank employees working in different departments and branches dispersed over the country.
The bank’s complex business and corporate structure can become a great obstacle while implementing a corporate intranet that should create a synergic environment for everyone’s productive work. Without a clear understanding of features to implement and target users, banks can fail to get the value they expected from their intranets, even developed on such a versatile collaboration platform as SharePoint. As a result, an intranet can be inconvenient and inapplicable to the bank’s daily processes.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to change the situation for the better and reboot a SharePoint-based intranet by filling it with features supporting both the front and back offices. For this, it’s worth starting with 3 important questions.
3 fundamental questions to answer
Even if a bank has already spent certain time on implementing an intranet, yet the solution still looks disintegrated and faces employees’ poor adoption, it’s reasonable to rethink the current system by answering the following questions one more time:
- Who are the target users and how should the intranet help them in their daily activities?
- Does our intranet facilitate cross-department collaboration and power knowledge exchange internally?
- Does our intranet increase employee engagement?
Answering these questions allows killing two birds with one stone. First of all, these questions help to define target user groups and specific features helping them fulfill their day-to-day tasks. Thus, business functionality is to be tailored to particular bank units and employees (e.g. lenders, risk managers); collaboration features should aim at facilitating internal and external collaboration (i.e. between different bank branches or with bank partners (insurers, mobile operators)); and finally, social features should cover all user groups. Secondly, a bank will understand which intranet functionality is lacking at the moment to satisfy existing business and collaboration needs.
Putting business in the focus
No bank intranet can be successful if it doesn’t provide value for employees in their business activities. A fine-tailored solution should complement and extend the core banking system or even make up the lacking features.
Effective document management and sleek workflows
A bank is a document-abundant establishment with multiple formalized processes. That’s why document management and workflows entrusted to a bank intranet should go like clockwork.
It’s worth thinking of well-structured document storages represented by separate site collections. Each of these site collections is to contain either particular types of documents (e.g. loan agreements, compliance reports) or documents processed by certain departments (e.g. the consumer lending department can store auto loans, home equities, mortgage applications). Within such a structured repository, every site collection will be accessible to a limited group of specialists granted with strict permissions in order to protect confidential information, prevent data leaks and access of unauthorized employees.
At the same time, using SharePoint’s advanced search capabilities, it’s possible to enable search by multiple criteria and find a required document throughout all of the available site collections.
There is also the possibility to automate bank workflows within a SharePoint-based intranet. In this case, it’s reasonable to address the automation requirements to SharePoint developers who will build up full-cycle workflows reinforcing the platform’s out-of-the-box capabilities with timer jobs and custom event receivers to automate such multistep processes as bank account reconciliation.
Role-specific activities management
Apart from a bank-wide document and workflow management, a SharePoint intranet can assist front and back office employees in their role-specific duties. The biggest advantage of using SharePoint for these purposes is the possibility to create secure task-focused sites and grant users with relevant access rights.
Compliance managers may have a centralized access point to all the rules, regulations and policies, a unified storage for compliance cases, as well as the opportunity to report an issue to the HR department, legal services or financial offices with the help of a dedicated workflow.
Risk managers can use a bank intranet as a unified repository of risk management policies and protocols, important statistics, reports and market trends.
Wealth managers will benefit from extranet capabilities of a SharePoint-based intranet. To ensure the required level of confidentiality, they can use extended SharePoint sites to collaborate with external partners and clientele.
Call-center specialists will be able to access communication scripts via a corporate intranet, as well as register complex cases and leave their detailed description to elaborate unique call processing tactics that can be reused by other call-center employees.
Sales and marketing managers can use their intranet as the centralized storage of sales and marketing materials that can be accessible to all stakeholders. The updates can be made using Office Web apps and shared across all bank branches either via customized notifications or a generally available newsfeed.
Intensifying cross-department collaboration
Used as a cross-department collaboration tool, an intranet should serve as both a single source of information and a unified discussion hub for employees from different bank departments and offices. The scenarios of bank collaboration management can include:
- Collaboration sites can be created to facilitate collaboration within the same bank departments located at different branches (e.g. auto loan specialists can discuss an interest rate discount for a customer enrolled in a loyalty program) or connect people from different departments, which is crucial for complex bank processes that require the approval of several specialists (e.g. approving an application for mortgage refinancing).
- Discussion boards can be integrated with a banking CRM and will represent a set of stand-alone collaboration spaces that can be used to discuss particular bank issues. For example, retail banking specialists can collaborate with marketing reps on a recent decrease of customers who chose a particular bank program.
- Instant business chats are extremely helpful in a banking environment where every minute counts. Bank specialists will be able to contact each other and discuss any business-related issues within a secure chat embedded into a collaboration site.
Ensuring dynamic knowledge and ideation management
To enable bank employees to freely exchange new knowledge with their colleagues, an intranet should come with handy knowledge and ideation management tools. These tools will not only support creating the unique corporate expertise but also stimulate creative thinking that contributes to the bank’s development. They also allow onboarding members to quicker and easier dive into their responsibilities and ramp up productivity.
A bank intranet can feature 2 levels of knowledge and ideation management solutions:
- A global knowledge base available for all employees and containing corporate guidelines, code of conduct, tactics to apply in communication with customers, success stories, etc.
- Independent ideation / knowledge management sites for particular bank departments or teams. These sites are to process and store confidential or specific knowledge (e.g. private banking specialists can keep personal finance planning programs for their HNWIs) that mustn’t be shared widely. This knowledge will form a bank’s unique asset that can be used as a competitive advantage.
Supporting corporate values and facilitating social interaction
Apart from its business and collaboration capabilities, a bank intranet should explicitly promote corporate values, strengthen the sense of community and involve every staff member into the corporate life. Moreover, due to strict internal policies adopted at banks, common social tools (e.g. messengers, private storages) are usually forbidden. That’s why an intranet should fill the gap and provide a whole set of social features. Among them, there can be:
- Bank news and events describing the corporate life and important milestones.
- Personal pages communicating employees’ interests and competencies, as well as letting them get connected with their peers and join communities.
- Photo and file stocks enabling users to have a Facebook-like experience within their intranet and providing the possibility to upload and share photos, personal news, etc.
- Ratings and acknowledgments of employees’ achievements, recent awards or important projects.
- Informal chats enabling staff to discuss any non-business-related topics.
- Social communities, like the Social Village implemented by ScienceSoft as a part of a bank intranet for 45,000+ employees.
Assembling all the layers together
Summing up the features described above, it’s easy to see that a bank intranet is a multi-layer solution that should meet employees’ needs at 3 levels: business, cross-departmental and social. Depending on a corporate specifics and existing banking software, a bank can pay primary attention to developing a business functionality if it aims to complement the core banking system or focus on collaboration and social features to cover HR needs.
About the Author: Sergey Golubenko
Team Lead and Solution Architect with 13+ years in software development, including 7+ years of working with Microsoft SharePoint. Sergei’s portfolio of SharePoint projects features content and workflow management, search, collaboration, business connectivity services, etc. He believes team engagement is a must for the project success and predicts the advance of SharePoint in the cloud.