One year in a pandemic: lessons learned to face the “new normal”
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Perhaps this phrase of Charles Darwin could be the best definition of the past pandemic year. In the case of businesses, many had to ascertain that flexibility and adaptability are key when maneuvering through the pandemic. Acting as a software provider and also as a strategic and business partner at SOFT4, we witnessed that together with our customers when they were trying to solve their pandemic-related challenges.
How have asset finance business processes changed?
Our experience has been gained across several continents, countries, and business segments, including automotive finance, equipment finance, B2B, and B2C. Many of the trends we observed working together with our customers are not new, but they have accelerated due to the pandemic.
- increased demand for flexible lease/loan payment structure
- adding payment holidays
- postpone payments
- finance residual value
- extend contract term
- higher volume of diverse scenarios in delinquency/collections process
- moratoriums on penalty interest
- custom payment arrangements
- refinancing of arrears
- lease modifications and re-writes
- increased demand for process automation in supporting processes
- customer service
Let‘s take a deeper look: customer requests for payment holidays or payment restructuring were always there, handled individually. With the pandemic, the volume of requests became massive which required the process and tools to be revised in order to enable operational efficiency. For example, financial organization used to have a few lease rescheduling cases per day; with the pandemic, they had to reschedule several thousand per week.
Some customer service requests, which were typical in consumer finance, were now required for business customers as well. Even if the process was always in place, but due to a large volume of cases, what was previously deemed an exception now became a norm.
How does this affect lease management software functionalities?
From an IT perspective, we observe the same trends as we did back in 2019, but now they are much more important, due to the pandemic.
- SOFT4leasing users prefer a subscription-licensing model, which allows for the flexibility to increase/reduce the number of licensed users, as per changing business environment.
- SOFT4Leasing users prefer the Private Cloud on Microsoft Azure deployment option (SOFT4Leasing running on Microsoft Azure VM, which enables scalability, and at the same time gives organization complete control over the environment, for example, to comply with data residence requirements).
- Increased priority of functional flexibility:
- Possibility of custom extensions to the standard system,
- Shorter change management cycle (to adapt processes to changing business environment and have IT systems adapted accordingly in a short cycle, avoiding the “business/IT gap”.)
Looking back at the previous pandemic year, SOFT4Leasing can be proud of successfully addressing our customers’ needs and offering them features to keep their businesses running smoothly.
Looking forward, together with our customers, we learned our lessons, too. The “new norm” features supplemented the SOFT4Leasing standard package to meet any new customer‘s needs.