How to Handle a Flow of Requests in a Bank While Keeping Head Count within Acceptable Limits

The bank started to deliver performance that was twice as high by reducing the life cycle of each request and prioritizing key clients.


For a number of years, one of Russia’s largest retail banks had been unable to handle the volume of customer applications it received. Just over half of all applications were processed on time. Top management was concerned about low productivity. In addition, the bank was not satisfied with the quality and user-friendliness of its IT solutions in this area. A major IT overhaul was on the agenda that would touch 30 to 40 percent of the entire system. The client had been unable to resolve these issues and concluded that increasing the number of employees dedicated to application processing was the only solution. Burk was asked to study in detail the entire process and understand what was going on inside the “black box”.


The Burk team started by following the “life cycle” of each customer application to identify bottlenecks. Two main problems were identified. First, the volume of applications was too great relative to the number of employees qualified to process them. Second, the technical side of application processing was difficult and slow. One key discovery: almost two-thirds of the time taken to process applications was taken up by delays and “waiting time” between the various stages of the process.

Rather than doubling head count to deal with the shortage of qualified staff, the team proposed instead a prioritization system. Management would determine the number of applications that the organization could process with existing staff. The client would then identify priority applications and process them first. To streamline the process and cut through the red tape that was causing delays, Burk helped the client to restructure technology-supported business processes within the application-processing function.


The Burk team worked with the client to develop a pilot project, and the first tests showed that the proposed changes were on the right track. Application processing times were reduced by nearly 40 percent. Extrapolating from the pilot, it was clear that the bank could increase productivity by nearly 50 percent without any staffing increase. Bank employees were also pleasantly surprised by the impact of the changes, with fewer irregular hours required to keep pace with the inflow of customer applications.