How a Personas-Based Approach Can Revolutionize Banking’s End User Productivity

 Author(s): , Posted on March 4th, 2015

If you’re like many major banks, your IT services were likely set up to serve common users with “standard issue” technology, and understandably so. Years ago, technology needs were relatively simple. Everyone received pretty much the same devices and applications, so it was safe to assume that a “one size fits all” approach would work when designing the processes and service levels to support your end users’ needs.

Today, the digital revolution has radically changed the way we do business. Employees are highly diverse in their working patterns and processes, and have a myriad of options for where and how they connect. Some employees are road warriors rarely going into the office, while others are primarily desk-based process workers. Similarly, some employees deal with highly confidential customer data, which requires higher levels of security, while some are doing basic administrative tasks. Above all else, employees are now fluid in their technology choices and usage. For instance, they may swap between using a personal phone and a bank-owned laptop to respond to their email, depending on their needs at the time. They use a standard PC in the office but tap into cloud-based and virtualized bank apps on their tablet when they’re on the move. Today’s technology choices are now firmly driven by the end user, not the IT department, and those users expect a robust, consistent experience and support no matter what they choose to use for work.

So how do you design proper IT services for your employees when that technology is rapidly changing and not all of it is under your control? The key lies in adopting a new approach to how you look at your bank’s employees, viewing them as “personas” defined by how they must and wish to work. Persona-based IT services revolve around identifying archetype employee models based on the different employee types that work within your organization. These personas are developed based on the business processes, key performance indicators, working habits, attitudes toward technology, and the experience that each type of employee has. Then IT strategies and services are aligned with the requirements of each persona.

To define your bank’s personas, consider what a typical “day in the life” of your employees entails. What does productivity mean for the different roles in your organization? What are their business goals and daily challenges? What business processes do they follow in order to be successful? What access do they need to what systems and tools to do their jobs? Look at not only how they perform their jobs now, but how their roles and requirements may change in the future as your business changes.

Once you are able to discern those people who have similar work processes, perform them in a similar way, in like environments, and share a general attitude toward technology – that’s a persona, and one for which you will want to devise a solution.

However, a word of caution here: beware the temptation to bite off more than you are ready to chew. Adopting too many personas can render the benefits you might otherwise experience moot. Balancing business effectiveness and IT efficiency is the goal. The aim in a personas-based approach is to get into the sweet spot where business effectiveness is balanced with IT efficiency. This sweet spot is where you’re providing a greater level of tailoring and personalization that means employees get tools and services that better fit their needs, without tipping the scales too far to “mass customization” where you deliver tailored solutions for every single role in the organization, creating too much IT complexity to manage efficiently.

As a general rule of thumb, if you find yourself with more than 10 personas, you’re probably getting too granular.

There are three other key points to keep in mind when implementing a persona-based approach that may ultimately define how successful this approach can be:

  • Business Needs Must Remain Your Top Priority: So many fall for the temptation to choose the shiny, new technology and then try to build the business needs around it. Make sure you first know exactly what you need and the service you’re looking to get, and then match the technology to those needs.
  • Start Small: Taking on the entire organization all at once is like trying to boil the ocean. Start with a manageable and highly desirable objective; for example, match your initiative to business project such as mobilizing the salesforce, or improving customer service. Or focus the personas initiative on a major IT change such as an application migration, device refresh or a core system replacement. Either way, starting small increases the chances of success and success creates advocates for the process to be pursued elsewhere.
  • Design for Change: The digital revolution is far from over. In this regard, it is critical to keep your program flexible for change that is bound to occur. One of the main benefits is that it provides the framework for fast action when change occurs. A new product is launched; which personas will have a role? A conversion is planned; which personas will be touched? And so on.

By first defining your personas based on business requirements and attitudinal profiles, the most effective technology profiles and end user support can naturally follow. Properly identifying your personas also makes the conversation between business and IT smooth and to-the-point, for example, how security needs to be adapted for this persona, or what training is provided for another persona.

A personas-based IT approach is the efficient guide for an increasingly digital age in which IT directly impacts the productivity of employees, and therefore the success of the business. And more importantly, it can alleviate stress by removing the guess-work, cost, and delays that might otherwise burden your IT department and your employees.

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