Celero Spotlight: Ryan Janke Discusses Weyburn Credit Union's Digital Transformation Journey

 
June 24, 2021

Welcome back to season two of Celero Spotlight. This season, episodes will be hosted by Deborah Moore, Director of Digital Transformation at Celero.

She'll be interviewing credit union leaders across Canada to provide insight into all things technology for credit unions.

 

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Deborah Moore: Hi, I'm Deborah Moore, Director of Digital Transformation at Celero. Today on Celero Spotlight, will be shining a light on Weyburn Credit Union in Saskatchewan and their digital transformation journey.

 

This is episode one of a multi-part series, where I sit down with Weyburn’s leaders to discuss the process of preparing their credit union for their digital future.

 

Our first guest joining me is Ryan Janke, Vice President of IT at Weyburn Credit Union. Ryan is going to share some insight about their digital transformation journey. Welcome, Ryan.

 

Ryan Janke: Thanks Deborah, I'm really excited to be here and talk about some of the change management that we've implemented over the last few years in our organization.

 

Deborah Moore: So you embarked on this journey in the early days of Covid for your digital transformation during a period of quite a bit of disruption and uncertainty; that was back in March of last year. So what drove Weyburn to make a decision to move forward at this particular time?

 

Ryan Janke: Well, I've always had the philosophy that there's never a perfect time to do anything, so we kind of took that approach and looked for what the silver linings could be during this pandemic situation.

 

We found a couple of big ones early on, one was that it had halted a number of other projects which actually freed some people up. We had the human resources available. We needed to do the job.

Most importantly, it created a lot of buy-in, a lot of political capital to move forward on eliminating anything that was stopping us from working from home, stopping us from being agile.

 

I've said for many years that banking in Canada is still far too paper-based. You know, we work in an industry that has successfully resisted change for almost 500 years, and when other industries were immediately just shifting gears and sending everybody home, we weren't able to do that because we had to make sure that, you know, the banking system was keeping operating.

 

Suddenly everyone could see what I had been promoting for a number of years, which was that we needed to move into a direction where we didn't have those limitations.

 

So that allowed us to really get everybody moving in the same direction at the same time. So I mean, I would argue that doing it during the pandemic almost was to our advantage more than our detriment.

 

Deborah Moore: Well, that's great insight. That's great insight since it created that critical mass for change, which is great.

 

So can you describe what that program looked like for the digital transformation journey at Weyburn? So what did the approach look like overall?

 

Ryan Janke: Well, we brought the Celero team in, and of course we had to do it all virtually, but it was a matter of getting the right stakeholders in the room to make sure that we had the knowledge of the expertise on what we are doing now, the member experience group on what we wanted to be doing and then an understanding of what our members wanted. And that last one I think was the most critical.

 

The Celero team guided us through a process, whereupon we brought our own membership in (again virtually) and interviewed them, and got a real idea of what their needs were, what their opportunities were — sort of a SWOT analysis of how we were serving them well, how we were failing them and what they really wanted to get out of their banking relationship. And then we distilled that down into a series of personas where we were able to understand really what a cross-section of our membership looked like. And that was very valuable in helping us throw away our assumptions.

 

A mistake that I personally have made, and I think that a lot of credit unions probably make, is we think that we are putting our members’ needs first, but really we're just projecting our own needs onto the members — and I find that in customer service in any industry. So the Persona piece was really valuable in allowing us to do that.

 

And Celero helped us to take that one step further and turn it into a member journey. Whereupon not only did we know who our members were, we knew what they wanted over a long period of time, and then we used that to inform the change piece.

 

Deborah Moore: That's interesting, and so tell me a little bit more about the change piece. What does that look like for Weyburn?

 

Ryan Janke: The change piece was possibly the most interesting part of this entire project for me. We used one of our support managers as our process champion who is going to drive the process into what it needed to be based on those member journeys and member personas.

 

But we also supported her with a project manager to handle all of the nuts and bolts in the scheduling of it, and also a change champion to help manage the change as this would be implemented in people’s lives. And one of the things that came out of that was getting more and more of the people who would be actually doing the work when the time came involved as early as possible in the process, and letting them have their input, and let that drive the direction we actually went.

 

Again, based on the personas and based on the member journey’s. And that had two effects: first, they were far more excited about this and far more engaged, and that led to a lot of insight. It also led to them being on board with the change that was going to disrupt their lives from the very beginning.

The other effect of this was that it led some of the executives to be a little more hands-off, and let the thing happen by itself, which, well, I will admit was stressful for those of us who are used to micromanaging the organization.

 

It turned out to be very valuable because it freed us to do our own jobs, and also freed them up to make the changes that need to happen without having to have a whole reporting structure to the people who are not that connected to the members anymore.

 

Deborah Moore: Really interesting, very interesting. So it sounds to me that you created, by enabling the employees to make that are closest to the work, to design out that change, that they then embraced that change, and it really supported the cultural shift in your organization that you were looking for.

 

Ryan Janke: Yeah, that's absolutely right. The project almost took on a life of its own with everybody who is going to be living this change already on board with creating it.

 

That means that the regular stumbling blocks that have hamper these projects (lack of understanding in direction, lack of buy-in when it comes time to actually implement) didn't even exist in this project, and we were three steps ahead without even realizing it out the gate.

 

What excites me even more than that, is that this way of doing things has become part of the culture of our organization very, very quickly. Everyone was excited, everyone adopted it. Which means that future changes, if they're done this way (and they're going to want to be done this way), will have the same success and the same lack of roadblocks, which to me, is even more exciting than the changes we’re implementing right now.

 

Deborha Moore: Right, so as you looked at your operational processes, how did you prioritize the ones that you needed to work on? Like what did that look like?

 

Ryan Janke: Well, I think it was very situational, and I think it would always have to be situational. We picked the one that came up the most in our member journeys, and also the one that had the most resources available to work on it.

 

Now, there's no perfect choice here, it is sort of a chicken and the egg: if we started with our commercial side, that would drive our retail side; if we started with our support side that would drive our commercial side. There's no one place that made perfect sense, so we picked the one that was the most available to us and meshed best with what we were trying to do. And I also think we picked the one that would be the best template for moving forward if we try to replicate this through other parts of the organization, and I certainly hope that we do.

 

Deborah Moore: Right, and in terms of other programs that you've run in the past, how is this different from the experience that you've had with other programs that you've run in Weyburn as opposed to the digital transformation one?

 

Ryan Janke: Well, I don't know if we've had projects fail because I got too hands on with them and I tried to be involved in every single decision (and I will admit that I sometimes I feel like I'm not doing my job if I don't know every single thing that's going on in my project). But I have to understand that's not possible and that's not feasible, and at the end I'm really only holding it back.

 

So I don't know if we've had projects fail because I've done that in the past, but I know that we've had projects go on too long or a lot of work was wasted and the efficiencies weren't there, whereas in this situation, we've very quickly been able to see what was going to work, what wasn't going to work, focus on what was going to work and drop what wasn't.

 

So this is possibly the most efficient project I've ever worked on.

 

Deborah Moore: Great, thank you, and so what is the biggest learning overall that you've had with digital transformations so far?

 

Ryan Janke: The biggest learning is that this is not a technical project. I mean certainly it involves a lot of technology, but everything does in our world these days. This is a human project — it's about change and it's about culture. 

 

Deborah Moore: Great, really well said. So now you're shifting into implementation, what does that look like for Weyburn?

 

Ryan Janke: So far it's been really exciting. We are rolling out the new products, the new technology we need to the people, but really most of those things already existed. So it's just about finalizing what those processes are going to look like, and about having the people who have been involved in this project from the very beginning put them into action, and you know, see if they're going to work.

And as I said, one of the most exciting things about this for me is that I don't really know exactly what the implementation is going to look like because I'm not the guy who opens new accounts, I'm not the guy who gives out mortgages — it's been driven by the people who do that, and all we've done is streamline the process to make it as quick and efficient as possible for them.

 

Deborah Moore: So what does it look like next for Weyburn? Digital transformation, we know is a journey, it is an ongoing piece of work. So what does it look like next for Weyburn, what do you expect?

 

Ryan Janke: Well, it's one of those things that is never going to be done. But our great success here is integrating the way of keeping things up to date, the way of modernizing processes and implementing continuous improvement as part of our organization’s culture.

 

So, what we will do is take the learnings from this into other processes (maybe we go to the commercial side, maybe we focus on account opening next). There's an infinite number of possibilities here, but the important thing is that we implement the cultural shift so that we're able to make these changes in a far more agile way than we've ever been able to do in the past.

 

Deborah Moore: Right. Can you talk a little bit about your digital transformation strategy? So, you developed a digital transformation strategy to embark on this work, what was the value of creating that strategy, and how is that different than other strategies you've built in the past?

 

Ryan Janke: Well, value of having that strategy is making sure that we have something we can refer back to and say, “are we on the right track?”.

 

Now, that's not different from other strategies, what's different about this one, in my mind, other than the fact that it's been driven so much by the stakeholders and the people who do the work on a day-to-day basis (you know, the true experts in how we were doing this before and how we do this going forward), is also based on the superior member data that we got and began this project, and a far better understanding of who our members are, what their needs are, what their wants are, and where they're going with their banking relationships.

 

Deborah Moore: Great thanks.

 

Thanks again to Ryan Janke for chatting with me about their digital transformation experience. Join us for our next episode of Celero Spotlight, where I catch up with Don Shumlich, CEO of Weyburn Credit Union, to discuss what he envisions as the next step in their journey.

Celero Spotlight: Ryan Janke Discusses Weyburn Credit Union's Digital Transformation Journey