We are a small firm. We have 50 consultants who work out of Puerto Rico. We also have offices in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and South Florida, Miami.
We are strategic management consultants, and our profile is very much geared to the business side. We usually work with the CEO or top teams of our clients and that gives us a good visibility of the whole company. It also gives us traction when we do projects; it’s important when you want to do improvements.
We staff our projects with small teams. We call them “powerful teams” in the sense that sometimes, we have only three people in our projects. A manager, an analyst, or an associate. They’re not coders; they’re business-trained people; economists, management, engineers.
Our approach is fact-based. We do a lot of data gathering, processing, and analysis. We draw conclusions and insight from fact-based data gathering.
Lastly, our motto is, “Technology is an enabler, not the solution.”
This goes back to when John said we need more software. We say, yes, we need more software, but that’s not the solution; that’s the enabler to your problem.
And that’s the way we always help our clients. I think it has led us to be more successful when we do this type of transformations.
We work in many industries. Mostly in financial services, health care, consumer goods, utilities, like water and telecom, and government. We have done projects in all of them, and in all of them we have implemented some sort of Caspio tool.
So, let me just talk to you very briefly about our framework for business transformation. Or, as I like to call it, operational excellence.
As we saw before, there is an iceberg, right? So, what your customer wants and feels, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and everything you do underneath is the operation side. This is the way we work with our clients when they want to include marketing, sales, operations, their strategy, and customer satisfaction.
We call it the Operating System.
First of all, we want to know the voice of the client.
We use Caspio to gather information and conduct surveys. We look at their processes – when you have the whole process, we can create a full circle with feedback. We have implemented Net Promoter Scores and other customer insights tools that are now being used in different industries. We did that with Caspio, too.
So, the Operating System. Basically, it is the way the process flows. It is what you do day-to-day, the steps that you take to perform an action. Here, we use Caspio with workflows. We automate or help our clients redesign the process and see what is needed and what is not needed. Then, we apply Lean manufacturing techniques, either to a part of the process or to the whole thing, but specifically to the step-by-step process. We enable some of those changes with Caspio workflows.
Then we have the Management Infrastructure. Basically, the organization’s dashboards or visibility of the operational KPIs. We also use Caspio for them.
One of the nice things that we do with the workflows is that we can design a workflow and extract the KPIs of a process. We can also do this while the process is ongoing, such as times, quantities, and all the information you need to manage that process and how it’s distributed across the organization. Who sees what, when? So here we embed alerts, reports, pipelines, all the things that you need to manage an operation that is already enabled by a technology.
And the last one I want to talk to you about is Mindsets and Behaviors. The circle doesn’t give justice to how important is it.
In all business transformations, our experience is that this circle, it’s The Circle because if you don’t get your users, your employees, or the ones who are working the process to use the tools and to follow the process, then you will not make the changes stick.
So how does Caspio work here?
We have enabled evaluations. Performance evaluations tied-in with incentive-made metrics that enforce or reinforce some of the changes that we suggested our clients to make. As you can see, all these levers are enabled by a technology partner such as Caspio, but the most important thing is that you must touch upon all of them to get the business to improve.
So, what is the need for business transformation? I bet you have always heard this. You know, in the 1920s they also wanted to improve customer experience, they wanted to improve productivity, and reduce cost. But what is different right now is the speed at which you need to do that.
So, speed is what is really getting us, I mean, all of us, here.
Speed is what’s really challenging our organizations. The speed at which you deliver the service, the speed at which you analyze the information that you’re getting, and the speed at which you make the changes. That’s the big challenge for transformations.
And on our side as a consultant to businesses facing this challenge, well, we must up our game. We have to deliver superb value.
As Sabina mentioned, I come from a larger firm, McKinsey. I worked there for six years and I love the work in the firm, but it was very strategic. We were inventing important projects and we did very interesting projects, but you never got to do the things.
When we founded Vision to Action, the action part was the design part of our intention. Having a tool such as Caspio allows our vision to be implemented too as a consultancy firm.
So, we design the strategy with our clients but we also implement it and make it into an action, so that they can grasp that they can really be successful at it.
We wanted to implement our recommendations quickly and we wanted to improve all the later models. All these tie back; our clients’ challenges are our firm’s challenges.
We face this every day: rigid legacy systems. We still face that and we will continue to face that. There is resistance to change, and we understand that. Those are core systems.
I wouldn’t suggest anyone to make the legacy systems. They overburden IT. The overburdened IT is huge because when you stand up and you make a change, it is more difficult to do so.
Many, many times we have gone through this conversation. Oh, here is the process. We spent two or three months with the business owner designing the new process and we have to automate this step and that.
And, you know, IT came up and said, “Well, how are we gonna to do it? We only have 10 guys who can do that and we outsource everything else. This is our budget, and this is our list and we do a Hunger Game type of selection of things and you’re not in.”
By the way, you must have a business required document. It will take you three months to get the document done, and when it’s done, the process changes again. So that’s something that we have faced many, many times, and that’s the way we have worked with it. It basically makes our consulting process a little bit more agile, leveraging this kind of tool.
And lastly, the typically IT, and this I have come to understand. We also have a small technology enablement firm that we founded in 2014; we understand what’s going on in the technology world. You have to be a little bit of risk-averse from the technology standpoint. You have to make sure that your securities are topnotch, that everything is working well, that you are honest and that you do the job there.
So, I have Caspio do that than me. That’s another thing that we found that it was useful, you know. Kind of top-of-mind, just having Caspio take care of the infrastructure and all the security with it, and we take care of everything else.
Our challenges from our firm’s perspective are, as I said, non-coders. We are engineers, managers, economists, and pianists. So, we’re not coders. Definitely.
But we like people who think and solve problems, and that’s our recruitment process. So, this is not a requirement; we needed something that would allow that problem solving to happen.
Our typical project is between three to six months. Larger projects, when we go into full implementation, take a little longer than that but you have that timeline. So, we have to either roll out a pilot where you can show results in three or, you know, top six months. So, the timeline’s very compressed.
Think about it. We’re changing the process, we’re changing the MI or the management infrastructure. Some organizational changes must happen. Some cultural changes have to happen and then you have to enable all that in three to six months for a client. It’s not that we’re part of an organization; we’re working with the organization.
And our model is fixed fees. So, when we engage with our clients in our proposal, we just provide a fixed fee and it’s not hourly-based. If we don’t finish the product in three months, it’s on our tab. So, we have to deliver that by the time we promised.
So, giving you all those contexts, I wanted to give you three examples of certain industries where we have developed solutions.
This is the list of things that we have done in those industries.
On the financial services side, we have done commercial credit origination. This started as a process improvement project. By the way, we ended up doing a whole workflow where this client ran a $4 billion portfolio on Caspio. So, the credit application process is where you as a company went for a line of credit or a term loan. We designed the whole process and enabled that through the platform.
A sub-process which I’m going to give you as an example is the appraisal review process. The procurement process. We have enabled that too with Caspio.
This is the story of procurement. We did the business requirement document that I just mentioned. Three months after we did that, the CEO came to our table and said, “Okay. So, when are we gonna to do this?”
Well, we asked SAP to enable this because we’re running SAP everywhere else and it came out at $2 million investment and 18-month deployment. So, we started Caspio right then and there. And we did Caspio kind of running in parallel with SAP.
In two or three months, we had something running and the total investments is…I think I gave it away. I mean, I should’ve asked for maybe half of what it was but I didn’t.
So, credit evaluation, also what we mentioned. The rating and the underwriting of the process were also running through Caspio.
In healthcare, we have done sales to enrollment. I have that example. Transportation logistics, satisfaction service, utility, capacity management, and HR core systems. Some of our clients’ HR core systems are running on Caspio.
But we don’t only give you the medicine; we also take it. We have done it internally for our firm and enabled some of our core processes through Caspio.
Recruiting, being the most important for us, runs on Caspio. We actually have a portal called our V2A, which runs in the low-code platform. We use it for recruiting, performance evaluation, personal time-offs or vacations and knowledge management, among others.
Let me talk about those three.
As I said, the appraisal review process is embedded in credit origination, as required by bank regulations. When they do an appraisal of the collateral, they were backing up, serving us a collateral of the loan. They need to have an appraiser who visits and appraises the value of that, and then the bank has to review that appraisal and make a decision whether they take it or accept it or not. So that workflow, we build it up in Caspio.
When we got there, it was very manual. The appraisal review was a significant bottleneck in the credit origination process. It took 100 and something days to do a review, and the credit origination process was waiting for this. They didn’t have visibilities or KPIs, and they had very low productivity.
So, this was 2010. And I’m sorry; it looks very awful. I mean, we didn’t work on the frontend at all, and I’ll talk about that at the end. So, this was a very rudimentary tool, but this ran a $4 billion portfolio, and this made the change happen.
We didn’t focus on the UI too much at the beginning, but just focused on the functionality, and this makes everything work. So much so that the results for the appraisal review concludes in terms of days.
The appraisal ordering. Just asking a third-party to go and renew a collateral originally took 34 days; we lowered that to 22. While we were there, they continued doing the new process and it is even lower right now.
As for the average review lead time, from when the appraisal comes in and how long it takes for them to review and accept it, we lowered it from 125 days to 22 days. And then the productivity per review increased from 11 appraisals per reviewer per month to 17. And again, it has increased to 1, even 2 per reviewers per day. So that makes 40 appraisals the last time we talked about this. For us and for our client, it was a very successful implementation of business transformation enabled with a tool such as this one.
This is a beautiful example in the healthcare sector, as we have gone from the business transformation, and we have developed this as a full-blown product. As you can see, the interface changed a little bit. We worked on that.
This is a sales tool enrolment process for Medicare Advantage plans. It is heavily regulated and it runs on a HIPAA platform. We started that as part of a consultant project.
We went to a healthcare company in Florida and we transformed that process and enabled it with Caspio. But after we finished that, we saw that it was good, and we productized the solution and took it to other clients. Remember, it’s HIPAA, it’s very stringent.
So, we’ve been running this product in different clients with a different business unit. Of course, it’s not consulting anymore so this has spun off and it’s a different thing. And we’ve been running that with Caspio for a few years.
Right now, we are at the point where we must take it out of the platform and develop the code for certain requirements that we needed. But it served a great purpose for four years developing a POC, or product testing and developing, and running it with clients. So, it made really good business sense to do it this way and then it basically financed the whole development of the product.
This is a good, very good example using Caspio for both as a consultant and as a business or startup kind of use.
And that was really nice. I really like this interface. I think we did a better job on this one than the other one. The changes have really good results. We improved their process end-to-end and we’re being successful at running it.
And lastly, this is our portal. Again, kind of in the middle, right?
So, the UI is not the most beautiful one, but as I said, recruiting and this is where all our consultants come in and they can check it. This is the administrator portal where you can see the recruiting pipeline and we use this every Monday.
Every Monday, at the partner’s meeting, we check how our recruiting pipeline is, as well as work or projects. It allows us to understand, and we make decisions based on what we see here, how the interview went. We have a grade for evaluation. You take the test in Caspio and you have the scoring done in Caspio. We have the whole process there and we can make decisions quickly on the hiring process, and all the processes that we have enabled.
So key takeaways. My suggestion and our suggestions are that we have worked very large projects. As I said, we have been fortunate enough to have the backing of the CEO, but if you’re in your unit, take small projects. I think that John mentioned this. Do not overreach because you’ll get burned or you might not develop it faster. So, select small and clear end-to-end projects that really deliver the value.
Think about the client experience and process first. Do not automate the new path; I think I like the way you said. So, what you’re doing today, rethink it. If you’re going to do it again, just rethink the process from the client perspective and do it.
Assign a front-end developer to improve UI, please. And, you know, it’s not a question of because it’s nice – user adoption is important. What we faced on the initial implementations is that when people looked at the interface, they underestimate the power. So, you also have to work on the appearance because it will help you with the user adoption, even internally. Not to speak on the customer side, and so internally you also have other customers. That is an important thing that we didn’t do at the beginning and then we had to bring in.
Develop a proof of concept and test quickly. I didn’t talk about agile but we work in an agile way. And that’s why we like this kind of tool because we can adjust the process. Whatever didn’t work, we can change it, change it, change it.
For some IT people, that was kind of very stressful because we were changing the application life cycle. We didn’t have a dev environment and a production. We just went, “Oh, you wanted that field? Where? Okay. There. There it is.”
So much so that when we have a production environment application right now and they want to make changes, you know, they say, tell this guy to change it. Well, that doesn’t work that way anymore.
Oh, it doesn’t? Why? I liked it that and the flexibility. So, the POC and the speed, it’s important.
You should also launch cultural elements for adoption. We did this internally through Caspio-Thons; and you can borrow the name as long as you give credit.
We wanted to get our people enthused with the idea of using Caspio. What we did is, I think I copied this from FedEx, where we did a kind of one-day company event where our employees sit down and identify problems that they wanted to solve using Caspio.
Our firm is divided into teams. They chose the problem they wanted to solve – whether it was a client problem or an internal problem – and they solved it using Caspio’s low-code platform. Our employees designed the process, developed it with the tool, and then presented it to the whole team or the firm. And then we selected who was the winner.
On the first Caspio-Thon, we did the fundamental pieces of our recruiting app, which we ended up using. On the second one, Frank and Craig visited us; they were there. This time we did the fundamental parts of our core processes and we solved them that day.
And for the third one, I think Dung and Bahareh were there, they’re in the picture. We did four different things; one of them was an app that we later used for a startup that we launched. It failed fast but we liked it; it failed because we didn’t invest that much resources. Developing the POC to fail fast, so that was a good thing. It was pretty fast.
So, what we want to do in the future, we want to continue doing this and extend it to our clients and interested parties around our area of influence. But I encourage you to work on the cultural side because it’s also part of the adoption, on the citizens and developers. They need the tools. They need the training, but more so, they need to all think in a way to solve problems quickly and implement it.
Now this is a really good way to have sort of an instant gratification of a problem as a team. So, thank you very much.