Banco Rioja embraces digital transformation to accelerate innovation

Working with Systec, a Smartsheet Platinum Solution Partner, Banco Rioja adopted Smartsheet Control Center to transform its operations and lay a foundation for accelerated growth and innovation.

Industry

  • Finance

Organization Size

  • Medium (50 - 999 employees)

Region

  • LATAM

Use Cases

  • Automation Features
  • Collaboration
  • Program Management

One of the big problems was that the organization didn’t have standardized methodologies...The way we managed projects was more informal. We had a lot of initiatives, but didn’t have a plan or goals. Because we were increasing the number of projects we were managing, we needed a solution that would help us work more effectively at a larger scale.

Pablo Noriega, PMO lead, Banco Rioja

Like many financial institutions around the world, Banco Rioja needed to modernize its operations to bring its traditional banking practices into the 21st century. The company’s leaders knew that creating new services and products that leverage big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning could potentially raise Banco Rioja above its competition. However, the effort requires a more streamlined and standardized project management process than the bank had developed over its years in business.

Working with Systec, a Smartsheet Platinum Solution Partner, Banco Rioja adopted Smartsheet Control Center to transform its operations and lay a foundation for accelerated growth and innovation.

“We’re part of great changes taking place in the financial industry and in the banking business model in general,” says Pablo Noriega, PMO lead at Banco Rioja. “If we don’t move faster, we can lose ground to competitors — not just other banks but new entrants like fintechs or, worst of all, with our clients. Large, traditional banks can have difficulty being agile, but we are also in a good position because we have resources, including the power of big data, that smaller competitors may not have.”

Standardized PMO leads to constructive change

Banco Rioja is headquartered in the capital of La Rioja province in Northwest Argentina, with branches in Rioja, five smaller provincial communities, and Buenos Aires as part of the main financial district of the country, and is fully owned by the provincial government. The company meets growing customer demands for digital banking and faces rising competition from financial technology (fintech) companies, Banco Rioja is committed to contributing to the social and economic development of the region.

To pursue its ambitious goals, Banco Rioja needed to standardize its project management organization (PMO) and improve cross-team collaboration. Teams were creating innovative projects, but didn’t have a single central way to track and report on them, or a consistent setup and benchmarking process. As a result, team members’ efforts and focus weren’t always fully aligned with corporate strategies.

“One of the big problems was that the organization didn’t have standardized methodologies,” Noriega says. “The way we managed projects was more informal. We had a lot of initiatives, but didn’t have a plan or goals. Because we were increasing the number of projects we were managing, we needed a solution that would help us work more effectively at a larger scale.”

Banco Rioja Office
Photo Courtesy of Banco Rioja

 

Banco Rioja worked with Systec, a third-party solutions consultant based in Mexico and serving the Latin America market, to develop and implement a Smartsheet solution. Systec not only created and installed the software tool, but provided guidance on how to redesign process structures and automate key steps, including adoption of Smartsheet Control Center to streamline executive oversight and management of work in process.

Today Banco Rioja’s Smartsheet solution establishes a consistent methodology for creating, planning and executing business projects across multiple teams. The implementation began with the IT team, and has expanded to include regulatory compliance processes including audits and reviews by the National Central Bank (BCRA) as well as following the Branches Modernization Program. Noriega expects to roll Smartsheet out for projects in Human Resources, security IT, operational risk analysis and business continuity, and other key areas.

“Working with Systec was a great experience because they helped us automate and improve our processes,” Noriega says. “As we apply new improvements and implement additional solutions and other premium apps, they will be an important part of our journey.”

More effective meetings with dashboards 

With Smartsheet Control Center, Banco Rioja has created dashboards that give project owners and bank leadership a real-time view of project status and issues. Meetings with regulators and executives are more dynamic, as participants can assess and make decisions based on the most current information, without waiting for follow-up reporting or clarifications. 

PMO teams can also collaborate more effectively with project owners across locations and departments, especially with remote workers. And Smartsheet makes it easy to share project information with third-party vendors, improving communication and integration on key initiatives.

Managing 10 times as many projects

Smartsheet has enabled Noriega and his colleagues to dramatically expand the number of projects they’re managing at any given time. When Noriega first joined Banco Rioja just over two years ago, the IT team was managing about 10 major projects. By simplifying administration and automating key parts of the process, Smartsheet has enabled the team to manage a current portfolio of between 70 and 80 projects. Noriega expects that count to reach 100 by the middle of 2020.

One of the biggest challenges for Banco Rioja was to improve its regulatory rating, which had fallen to the lowest level during a period of national economic crisis that had hit La Rioja province particularly hard. Using Smartsheet to manage digital and regulatory initiatives enabled the bank to make lasting improvements to its practices and business performance, resulting in a new rating through the Systems Audit by BCRA that repositioned the bank with a very good reputation.

Banco Rioja’s improved regulatory performance is a result of its hard work to transform business processes and management. Smartsheet Control Center has been an important contributor to that change; because the solution itself is quick to learn, it has made it easier for Banco Rioja employees to adapt to the new processes and standards required to drive digital business transformation.

“Smartsheet gave us a lot of features and tools that are very easy to use,” Noriega says. “If we had chosen a different solution, it might have been difficult to implement our business methodologies because the tool itself would have been difficult to learn. Adopting Smartsheet made it very simple because people accepted the solution and quickly became familiar with it.”

Banco Rioja Group
Photo Courtesy of Banco Rioja