Choosing a debt collection system – a universal product or a tailor-made one?
The purpose of this article is to introduce the process of choosing a new debt collection system and show what necessary steps should be taken to make the task easier, find a partner who will support us in achieving our goal and ensure success by implementing the best debt collection system. Supplier to build a partner relationship that is helpful at the project implementation stage.
Step 1: Diagnosing your needs
The first step is to analyse the needs by collecting information from all system users and other business units that need access to collection data. At this stage, it is necessary to brainstorm with people involved in the implementation of business processes, who should identify problems in the current work and expectations in relation to the tool facilitating their work.
Very often we meet the requirement ‘(…) we want what we have, but more automated and that the manager can have more control and manage everything in the new system’. So, management reports, configuration panel and business administration? This is just a tiny part of the system. Much more lies in the needs of operational users – specialists and experts who require an intuitive and fast UX interface, instant window opening, as few clicks as possible and clear forms with all the necessary data.
Step 2: Verify the possibilities
The next step is to collect all requirements into a document, where we most often separate functional (business and operational) and non-functional (processing, security, performance, GDPR, auditing) requirements. At this stage, we list all reported needs, formulate them into requirements and we can assign them priority – the most used method is MoSCoW.
Must, Should, Could, Would – by assigning a priority to each requirement, you can imagine the scale of the project and explore dependencies between business areas. On the other hand, looking as a solution provider, we have the opportunity to assess to what extent the requirements coincide with the ready solutions and we are able to better match the offer and the project schedule.
Returning to the possibilities research, one of the most important factors is the involvement of internal IT at this stage, which will indicate the necessary technological requirements for the new system and support its knowledge in the field of system power supply or data exchange interfaces with other internal systems. An important element of this phase is the definition of an integration plan to obtain a broad view of the necessary points of interface between the debt collection system and other systems and you can plan to add new / missing integrations, e.g. external databases.
An important element at this step is to do a market analysis for debt collection systems. The best source of knowledge can be trusted people from the industry, employees ‘experience of working in other institutions, and most of all the Suppliers’ references regarding completed implementations. We will obtain important information if the Supplier provides us with a demo of the system and allows us to become familiar with the functionalities of the finished product.
Step 3: Choosing a solution
So far we have managed to:
- collect requirements,
- build a project team,
- prepare a business case,
- preliminary estimate budget of the project,
- analyse the market of proven Suppliers.
We come to the point – a finished product or a tailor-made system?
The finished product has a basic advantage – it is ready 🙂 We shorten the implementation time and lower the threshold for our organization to enter the new system. Of course, the condition for choosing such a solution is its readiness to service a diversified portfolio of receivables, in particular:
- automation of debt collection activities and allocation of cases to processes / employees,
- handling all debt collection processes,
- allows for independent planning of process steps,
- enables quick modifications of the strategy and conditions of assignment to the strategy,
- has ready reports attached and allows you to attach created reports on the system database,
- allows you to control accesses and authorizations to register activities,
- is integrated with the EPU and other external databases,
- handles communication with external entities
First of all, the finished product must be user-friendly for employees at every stage of the debt collection process and provide all relevant information immediately after entering the case or client.
Another advantage of the finished product is the continuous work on the system by the Supplier, which provides new functionalities based on the developed road map of product development. As the Ordering Party, we gain the comfort of having influence on the application development plans and decision-making in the scope of incorporating new functionalities in our organization.
The tailor-made system also has a fundamental advantage – you can use the finished product as a model, which we will ‘dress’ with accessories tailored to us. We gain the ability to control the progress of work on adapting the solution to our needs on an ongoing basis, we can quickly respond to changes in the business environment and provide feedback to the project team. The downside is the delivery time of the complete system and the possible need to break down the implementation plan into phases. Each phase requires a complete plan of preproduction testing and data reconciliation.
The choice is not easy, but before making it, it is worth taking step 4, which may help us make a decision.
Step 4: Workshop
We are getting closer and closer to achieving the goal: a reconnaissance on the market, we have knowledge about proven suppliers and send an inquiry. We watched several presentations of ready-made systems or summaries of implementations of tailored solutions. It is time to plan a workshop with selected Suppliers.
It is best to select people who represent business units – system recipients and to involve people from IT, e.g. a systems architect, who will be invaluable support in choosing the best solution. At this step, you can consider choosing a workshop technique that will allow you to better express your expectations and clash them with possibilities.
The most frequently chosen method is the traditional method, where the Supplier and the Ordering Party meet together and work on the requirements written by the Ordering Party to clarify them and verify the level of understanding by both parties. A traditional workshop allows you to understand the expectations of the Ordering Party, but often limited only to the written requirements. Very often, during this form of workshops, additional business needs ‘come out’, resulting from a dialogue with the Supplier who shares experiences gathered from other implementations.
One of the methods is event storming, which will help both at the stage of collecting internal requirements and when we have an appointment for a workshop with the Supplier. The use of this method is an advantage for the Ordering Party (writing out the entire domain of the system in the context of business activities) and for the Supplier, who will better understand the requirements and propose a solution tailored to the needs. This workshop method engages all workshop participants, triggers creativity and allows for capturing the relationship between user activities and system functioning.
Another workshop tool is facilitation. Thanks to this method, in addition to the problematic analysis of business requirements, we gain an increase in the involvement of team members and prepare the organization for change, becoming ambassadors of the new system. Conducting a workshop based on the principles of facilitation, we involve the Employer and Supplier’s employees in joint problem solving, while learning about the possibilities of adapting participants to changes in the scope of the project.
A recipe for success
An effective project team is a mutual responsibility – the Employer and the Supplier. Above all, clear prioritization, responsibility and decision-making on both sides brings you closer to the success of your project. Thanks to this, we build a team of professionals who enter into partnerships to face the challenges together, both when creating a tailor-made system and delivering increments for the finished product.
Choosing a system can be a commitment for years and it is good to choose one that will allow our organization to develop and quickly adapt to changes in the environment of our organization.