Agile methods have transformed software development, and now they’re transforming software implementation as well. Agile methods can dramatically reduce collection software deployment time and cost.
Lots of companies will benefit: Startups looking to rapidly stand up a collection capability; incumbents needing an appropriate solution for an acquired portfolio or new market; small and medium-size companies wanting to modernize their collection operations; large enterprises rolling out an advanced solution across multiple locations, including places they wouldn’t have been able to cost-justify in the past.
Case in point: A large debt purchaser/collection agency installed FICO® Debt Manager™ at one of its European divisions, and went live — for a fraction of the cost of a traditional implementation — in just 12 weeks. That’s a dramatic reduction in not only cost, but time.
Borrowing an Idea from Lean StartupsThe cost savings and accelerated time to value were achieved by identifying the minimum solution needed for the initial launch.
This is similar to the idea of “minimum viable product,” or MVP, a concept from the lean startup movement that has taken hold in the entrepreneurial world over the past five years. MVP has a lot of other context and methodology — it encompasses rapid learning and testing of not just software, but business models. The idea of asking “What’s the minimum we need to get started?” is applicable to a lot of business initiatives, including launching new collection capabilities.
Full Collection Software Functionality in a Focused ImplementationI should clarify that when we say “minimum” we’re not talking about a subset of Debt Manager. All clients get full software functionality. “Minimum” refers to what needs to be configured above and beyond the best practices already preconfigured into workflows, work queues, account attributes, actions and strategies in the basic Debt Manager Pro delivery option.
Most companies will have their own unique mix of special functions, business rules, integrations and communications they want configured on top of this core. Often they’ll do most of this additional configuration themselves, with the option of tapping FICO professional services on an as-you-need-us basis.
With this approach, the MVP becomes a springboard for further configuration work in planned phases over time. It provides a cost-effective way to get started; then, as the company begins to capture and analyze data from operations, they can use KPIs and analytic insights to help them prioritize what to do next.
Supporting the Legitimate Complexity of BusinessesThe company I mentioned that launched in 12 weeks used the same approach for another Debt Manager implementation when they expanded into a new line of business in another part of the world. This deployment was accomplished in 6 months — whoa, why so long? In this case, the implementation covered a far more complex set of requirements, which would probably have taken well over a year using traditional implementation methods.
The contrast between these two implementations for the same company brings to mind Einstein’s statement that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Cost- and time-saving preconfigurations and templates should never restrict collection software solutions, forcing companies to accept something simpler than what they actually need to run their operations the way they choose. We must provide the flexibility to dial up implementations to exactly where the business wants them in each instance.
As software developer Justin Etheredge said in his Simple Thread blog, “We, as an industry, need to find ways to simplify the process of building software without ignoring the legitimate complexities of business.”
Same goes for software implementation. If you’d like to find out more about collection software implementation trends — including not only MVP, but how standardization and knowledge transfer can help you cut both vendor charges and internal costs — download this Hot Topics Q&A on More Choices for Implementing Collection Software.