Center of Excellence Brings Transformative Results to Regional Bank
America’s largest family-controlled bank serves 500-plus locations in 21 states and the District of Columbia. But it wasn’t always that way. In 2014, the North Carolina-based bank spent more than $600 million to acquire a large South Carolina-based banking organization – the crowning point of a series of mergers and acquisitions of smaller financial institutions in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
With this growth came new challenges, particularly in the realm of incentive compensation, as the bank’s legacy processes were far too incongruous and decentralized to serve all the new salespeople and markets. With its sales operations having reached a critical level of dissonance, its producers were struggling to achieve peak performance.
The bank’s inconsistent and complicated manual processes were creating inefficiencies and risk, and knowledge of them was scattered piecemeal throughout the organization. They had been passed down from associate to associate over time, typically with little or no supporting documentation, which left their new owners with little comprehension of the thoughts and reasoning that had gone into creating them. Throughout the organization – and sometimes even within the same business unit – people were performing the same tasks wildly differently.
All that manual calculation resulted in the bank spending significant time cleaning and updating its data to match expectations downstream. Consequently, both management and sales reps constantly had to deal with opaque, outdated, and hard-to-access data – and the problem was only getting worse. Whether compensation, quotas, or territories, it had become nearly impossible for the bank to align its plan designs with its business priorities.
The bank chose to partner with Optymyze, setting the ambitious goal of centralizing and automating its calculation processes while simultaneously building an incentive compensation Center of Excellence (CoE).
It’s not uncommon for major methodological shifts at large corporations to introduce friction between business units, so Optymyze and the bank were determined to ensure that people from all levels of the organization would buy into the new approach. Achieving that required reaching out to stakeholders across the organization – from HR to compensation managers to business leaders – to discuss their perspectives, needs, and potential pain points. Due to that proactive communication, the bank’s people came to view the CoE as an opportunity to automate a suboptimal function rather than a reduction of their responsibilities, ensuring that negative sentiments never got a chance to accumulate.
Over the course of the past 15 months, Optymyze and the bank have rolled out the new technologies and processes, division by division – realigning compensation plans to support larger business goals and reward the sales team appropriately. Simultaneously, comprehensive documentation is being developed to ensure process continuity even through turnover and change.
Meanwhile, the two companies are collaborating to implement and maintain industry best practices across all of the bank’s business units.
The thorough and procedural manner in which Optymyze has helped redesign the bank’s compensation processes has lent management a deeper understanding of internal business needs. Subsequent deep dives into existing processes revealed, for instance, that the bank’s salespeople were producing a number of inadvertent outcomes – and enabled them to make corrections accordingly. Indeed, the bank is now identifying so many process and knowledge gaps, it’s formed a healthy backlog of improvements to be rolled out over time.
The newly implemented Center of Excellence has nurtured an invaluable degree of consistency across business units, making the entire organization run more smoothly. With a single group answering questions and uniformly implementing best practices, conflicts have become easy to resolve, and the company is prepared for additional expansion and change.
Meanwhile, the bank’s data has been consolidated into a single repository for transparent, standardized, real-time reporting across lines of business. Associates and managers alike have praised the system’s ability to feed them current data, track and audit changes, and offer insights they’d never had before. The consistent style and syntax of the reporting – everyone “speaking the same language” – have also made it easier to integrate new hires and accommodate transfers within the organization.
With the newly introduced automation all but eliminating the inefficient manual calculations of the past, the bank’s compensation calculation errors have dropped precipitously. That and other efficiency improvements have slashed the lag time between the submission of raw sales data and the delivery of outcomes (in the form of both payment and business insights) by 88%; it now takes the organization just three business days to process payments despite them requiring two levels of approval.
The increased efficiency and centralization created by the Center of Excellence have liberated the bank’s key stakeholders to focus on continued growth and other long-term objectives rather than wasting their time on mundane operational tasks. In fact, across the Mortgage and Investment Services business units – the first to experience all these changes – the bank is saving 7 FTEs per quarter.
Thanks to all these benefits making themselves known immediately, the Center of Excellence implemented by Optymyze has become the organization’s standard. All the bank’s business units are being rolled into the project, and the two companies are working together to devise further improvements in plan performance analysis, dashboards and reporting, and initiatives to drive goals and behaviors.
To learn more about the transformational value of creating a Center of Excellence, take a look at this on-demand WorldatWork webinar, co-presented by Optymyze and our partner.