How Banks and Credit Unions Are Innovating for Small Business

//How Banks and Credit Unions Are Innovating for Small Business
How Banks and Credit Unions Are Innovating for Small Business

In a previous post, we addressed the need for banks and credit unions to invest in enhanced digital capabilities in order to attract and meet the needs of small businesses. Effective digital product management is a critical piece to enabling financial institutions to drive innovation forward in small business focused digital solutions and take more control over what Aha! calls the complete product experience. 

Effective digital product management will help you determine what solutions you should be offering small business customers, identify partnerships you should consider for key initiatives and lead the successful execution of your digital strategies. 

Uncovering Small Business Needs

Most banks and credit unions have experience with product management when it comes to managing their to traditional financial products, such as credit cards, loans, and deposit accounts. Establishing accountability for these financial products is important but isn’t sufficient to achieve success with digital innovation and ensure best in class offerings and quality user experiences for small businessesThe digital experience is fundamental to the complete product experience.  Enter digital product management. 

Digital product management executives pay close attention to not only the services their business banking clients consume today, but on understanding the specific objectives they are trying to accomplish. They research small businesses extensively to determine where solutions are needed to round out or completely replace the solutions received today from financial institutions. For example, small businesses frequently ask for faster and cheaper payment options, but the reasons why might be dramatically different depending on the type of small business being served and the use cases it is trying to accomplish. 

By getting to the heart of real small business needs, we believe digital product management will be better positioned drive bank and credit union initiatives to expand digital product offerings and come up with meaningful solutions. This will allow them to step up their game and become more competitive. 

Moving Bank Innovation Forward 

Digital product managers should consider these three key questions to determine where they should invest in product development:  

1. What needs exists in the market?  

Digital product managers need to know not just what small businesses are asking for, but why they are requesting certain capabilities and how needs are currently being addressed; whether through work arounds or competitive solutions.  More importantly digital product managers need to be able to watch for pain points small businesses are experiencing but not explicitly asking to be solved. 

2. How pervasive are these needs? 

Digital product managers need to help their financial institutions make good financial decisions.  They must understand the market potential for solutions being contemplated.  For example, what percentage of the institution’s client base could benefit from a better solution?  How many new small business clients could be attracted through the solution. 

3. Will small businesses pay for a better solution? 

Fortunately for financial institutions, small businesses are used to paying for better solutions from financial institutions and fintech companies. Revenue opportunities help digital product managers present solid business cases and ensure that the bank can qualify benefits to small businesses considering the adoption of new solutions. 

Taking the Next Step 

In most cases, the next step for the bank or credit union is to put together a committee made up of executives from both business and technology departments to discuss the options for instituting or better supporting digital product management.  An outside expert might serves as a facilitator for these discussions, helping the business side express requirements clearly to the technology side and helping technology establish boundaries for future innovation.  

Financial institutions would also be wise to consider providing digital product managers software product management training such as exposure to the Pragmatic Framework to help them execute their responsibilities. 

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