There has never been a more critical time for financial firms to prioritize innovation. Rapidly changing customer behaviours, disruptive digital technologies, and the emergence of agile fintech start-ups means that disruption is an ever-present danger. To counter these challenges, companies are increasingly focused on creating a culture of innovation to achieve financial process improvement. Total Systems Services (TSYS) – a fintech giant with more than 13,000 employees worldwide – presents a great example of the results this kind of initiative can deliver.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at how TSYS launched their revolutionary Project WOW (War on Waste) – a ground-breaking process improvement methodology developed by management consulting firm Above + Beyond and powered by Qmarkets software. As a result of this project, TSYS was able to address employee pain points and inefficiencies, enhance corporate leadership strategies, increase savings, and implement lucrative new ideas. The resounding success of TSYS’ Project WOW provides invaluable lessons for leaders in the financial sector looking to drive continuous improvement across all fronts.
Background and Challenges: Crowdsourcing Financial Process Improvement
TSYS is a major payment-processing company operating in over 80 countries and overseeing approximately 28 billion transactions per year. The sheer size and complexity of the company gave rise to the principle challenge – finding a way to harness a diverse array of internal knowledge sets and channel it towards continuous improvement.
Employee engagement presented the second major challenge. TSYS had previously launched other continuous improvement initiatives – including six-sigma programs – that yielded few results. This left employees sceptical of the idea that future programs would be any different.
To tackle these challenges effectively, the project leader at TSYS identified 4 key objectives that would need to be prioritized:
✔ Changing entrenched ways of thinking – persuading tenured staff that implementing a bold new crowdsourcing approach can yield major results
✔ Founding a sustainable innovation culture – a space where new ideas could be proposed confidentially, employees would be accountable, and participation encouraged
✔ Establishing effective problem-solving capabilities – methods for resolving issues hindering workflows, processes, and the innovation culture as a whole
✔ Crowdsourcing waste reduction – discovering ways to pinpoint and rapidly correct inefficiencies and employee pain-points
TSYS sought out a holistic solution that would empower employees and harness their creativity. This criterion is what led them ultimately to Above + Beyond.
The Solution: Creating a Continuous Improvement Culture with Project WOW
Above + Beyond (A+B) is a Canada-based management consulting firm, committed to helping companies augment their corporate DNA to streamline continuous improvement. The Project WOW methodology offered by A+B is designed to engage employees and empower them to put forward new improvement suggestions, through workshops, training programs, and brainstorming sprints. This employee-centric approach appealed to TSYS, who were searching for ways to better leverage internal knowledge in a way that could be tailored to their unique infrastructure and culture.
TSYS deployed A+B’s methodology in three stages.
- Change Agent Training – providing fundamental skills to employees tasked with overseeing the new continuous improvement methodology
- WOW Sessions – a series of two-hour sessions in which key problems were discussed and represented with post it notes
- Leadership Evaluation & Results Tracking – where the results of implemented solutions are assessed for their effectiveness
Within the first year this project had garnered considerable results. Globally, TSYS was able to engage more than 3,000 of their technology team members, train over 100 change agents and leaders to drive new innovation initiatives, launch more than 50 complex LEAN projects, and much more.
Despite the considerable success achieved during this short period, there were some clear limitations to this ‘analogue’ idea-gathering approach. Managing the vast number of post-it notes from the WOW sessions became increasingly challenging, and collaboration between employees spread across different countries and continents was virtually impossible.
After discussing these challenges with TSYS, Above + Beyond, conducted a thorough search for a software solution that could meet their unique requirements. After assessing various solutions, Qmarkets’ platform was selected as the perfect platform to help scale Project WOW across the entire TSYS workforce.
Taking Process Excellence to the Next Level – The Results of TSYS’ Implementation of Project WOW
The wide array of ideas generated by TSYS’ global workforce sparked breakthrough improvements in a number of areas – from the reduction of hardware expenses with new power routers, to a new communication plan that drastically cutdown conference call wastage.
The word ‘innovation’ usually brings to mind cutting-edge new products or technologically streamlined services. However, sometimes the most important innovations are also the most simple. Take this example from TSYS’ large Indian office in the city of Pune – a metropolis with over 3 million inhabitants.
Employees at this office would often find themselves sitting in traffic for long periods of their lunch break, having to drive a considerable distance due to a lack of local options. To tackle this problem, an employee at the Pune office submitted an idea as part of the Project WOW initiative, suggesting that a cafeteria be opened on site. This was implemented in a matter of weeks, saving employees half an hour in lunchbreak downtime every day, while significantly increasing employee satisfaction, productivity, and work-life balance.
This is just one outstanding example of how a small idea can go on to deliver a huge impact when it’s given the right environment to flourish in. To discover all the details of TSYS’ game-changing implementation of Project WOW – and gain actionable insights for your business – be sure to register so you can view the full webinar on demand.