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Case Study: Zions National Bank Transforms into a Fully Agile Enterprise during a Core Transformation

Case Study: Transforming Zions Bank into an Agile Enterprise

If It’s Broke, Fix It

Oftentimes, institutions carry on business as usual, despite warning signs that things are not going well. The old adage that ‘it’s always been done this way’ can be a recipe for failure.

Rather than tolerating inefficiencies and waiting for a total collapse of functioning, I am able to step in and analyze the situation, offer expert advice, and monitor successful implementation of new practices.

To demonstrate my strategies, I offer the following case study focused on Zions First National Bank.

But first, a quick fun fact: Zions is a bank with a long history, having been founded in 1873. But one of the more interesting events in the institution’s history happened in 1957. Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust Company merged with Utah Savings and Trust Company and First National Bank of Salt Lake City to form Zions First National Bank. When this happened, the long-familiar apostrophe in Zion’s was dropped. So, now you know 😃

The Dilemma Faced by Zions National Bank

Situation: Zions National Bank was unable to effectively implement its Consumer Lending module as Phase One of a much larger core transformation.

After three years, the entire project budget was used up and was not close to implementation. Phase Two (Commercial Lending) and Phase Three (Deposits), were costing millions to delay. The last chance was to implement Phase One (Consumer) and save the program. The time frame was to implement Phase One in four months.

Problem: Zions was comprised of six different banks that all operated independently. The bureaucratic operations defied any enterprise-wide cooperation for a project not directly associated with daily production. Everyone was marching to a different drum and executive direction. It only produced chaos, as you can imagine.

Advice: Executive accountability, dedicated project teams, best possible attitudes, and specific instructions to march everyone to an ambitious implementation date.

Making the Marching Orders Clear…

Action: Executive participation and accountability was mandated to Phase One, and C- level participation was made a condition of success. The marching orders were clear: if the president is in the meeting, then you better be in the meeting as well. If the president is hearing about your failures, then you better be prepared to explain your failures.

The project team marched every day to its implementation goal by performing:

    • respected cadences, such as daily standups
    • daily debriefs
    • weekly reviews
    • lessons learned
    • revered ceremonies, such as quality gates, risk escalations & reviews, go/no-go’s

There were dedicated resources and directed attitudes:

    • people were either 100% dedicated – or not on the project
    • everyone was held accountable to daily deliverables and promises
    • all bad attitudes were checked at the door
    • any negative attitudes toward the project or teammates were not tolerated and publicly ended

This resulted in a daily debrief and escalation until we were ready to launch.

Outcome: The ambitious re-visioning of a failed program followed by a successful implementation gave the organization confidence to move forward.

The experienced and tested project team transitioned right over to Phase Two (Commercial Lending). With the addition of more structured, agile-like disciplines along with measure and metrics, this same team successfully launch Phase Two within nine months.

These repeated successes led Zions to complete its core replacement and to transform itself into a fully agile enterprise.

Patrick Martin is an industry expert in banking technology, deciphering the elements that work collectively towards progress – and building a roadmap for successful execution.

Contact him today to see how he can use his innovative strategies and industry expertise to help your organization.

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