6 Minute Read

Reimagining Onboarding Managed Funds With Service Design

Standard Bank CIB

A Fully Remote Project

Project Summary

Standard Bank Corporate Investment Banking needed to augment its internal design capability and asked Freethinking to perform a strategic review of design across the Enterprise. As a component of this review, CIB requested Freethinking evaluate the landscape of customer needs, select three impactful customer journeys and generate appropriate solutions utilising Service Design as a practical demonstration of this methodology’s power.
This case study will detail our method for selecting these journeys from various candidates and then describe each step in our Service Design discovery and delivery process for one of these journeys: Onboarding Managed Funds.

Problem First

Discovering And Validating Problems To Be Solved

The client’s problem:

The Standard Bank CIB environment is federated into functionally independent business units, and customer journeys typically touch multiple areas.

The environment is complex, and several competing projects run concurrently without centralised monitoring, coordination or prioritisation oversight.

Our first challenge was to devise a coherent method for researching which customer needs were the highest priority, and which journeys might be most impactful for CIB. It’s critical to ensure that we are “designing the right thing” before drilling into the detail of “designing the thing right.”

The Answers We Found

In our journey selection process, we prioritised the Onboarding Managed Funds journey, both for customers and the business. Onboarding funds was a cumbersome manual process for clients and CIB staff alike.

Vague document requirements, no clear point of entry, siloed support teams with a lack of consistent workflow, and a burdensome reliance on Relationship Managers to follow up repeatedly resulted in a slow, fractured process prone to costly errors and post-trade issues.

A Summary Of Issues
  • No self-service capability for customers.
  • No clear set of requirements.
  • Onboarding often doesn’t reach finality.
  • Asking clients to upload documents multiple times.
  • Clients are in the dark about their progress.
  • Clients are not sure who to contact in the bank.
  • Processing irregularities result in CIB staff repeating work.
  • Serious post-trade issues.

Research And Discovery

Journey Selection: Service Ethnography

We conducted multiple interviews with staff to unpack concerns across the business. We unpacked presentations, specification documents and other business artefacts to create a view of past, present and upcoming projects and initiatives.

We had limited interaction with customers due to mandated Covid-19 restrictions. Still, we made up for the shortfall through in-depth discussions with customer-facing relationship managers and call centre agents. We supplemented this research with a detailed deconstruction of an annual customer satisfaction survey. From this survey, we derived both qualitative and quantitative understanding 
of customer pain points.


Journey Selection: Service Ethnography

From the research conducted over several months, we derived customer pain point categories and shortlisted 55 journey candidates. We then sent a poll to business stakeholders to prioritise the final 9 candidates.


Journey Selection: Service Ethnography

Having prioritised and selected journey candidates, business voted for the Onboarding Managed Funds journey as a focus for the redesign.


Customer And Staff Pain Points

Our analysis revealed inefficiencies resulting in pain points experienced by both customers and staff, which we expressed in a hierarchy. The “subjective” pain points experienced by customers and staff is mirrored in business process and service lapses.

Establish Personas

Archetypes And Personas

As we unpacked pain points across the business, we developed detailed customer and staff archetypes (followed by detailed personas). The work undertaken here provided us with a human-centric lens through which to focus our redesign ideation.

Problem Statement

Crafting A Problem Statement

Having defined our personas, interrogated in detail the pain points felt by customers, staff and the resultant business process inefficiency, we were in a position to craft a problem statement for the Onboarding Managed Funds project from a client’s perspective.

‘As the COO of a small Asset Manager, I need a way to ’onboard’:
  • Once-off and end-to-end across the business’ products.
  • Verified as quickly and efficiently as possible (with the least amount of interaction, data input and documents required).
  • With a simple means of initiating the request that suits my needs.
  • While feeling informed throughout:
    • Because I cannot currently rely on the business to consistently onboard timeously enough to accommodate my needs.
    • Because I don’t always know whom to speak to or what to do next.
    • Because I don’t know where I am in the process.
    • Because I feel I have to keep supplying the same information repeatedly.

Getting the detail right is crucial, as each keyword in the problem statement expresses an area of concern which the solution must address. In aggregate, this statement provides the necessary perspective and context to guide, limit and define the project scope.

Metrics For Success

With a problem statement in place, we were able to determine our solution’s success and failure conditions. We measure success objectively, so we constructed metrics (and associated project measurement protocols) to correlate with each of the keywords expressed in our problem statement. These metrics cover three domains: accuracy, speed and customer experience.

We expect to see a distinct correlation between these metrics and traditional business measures such as an increase in revenue and customer retention.

Solution Ideation

We conducted wide-ranging workshops and ideation sessions with stakeholders to brainstorm potential solutions. This process is creative and highly collaborative. We included perspectives from every conceivable direction, and we looked for inspiration everywhere.

We generated multiple ideas. We then went through a process of refinement and stress-testing for practicality and fit to build out a “to-be” vision that solved all the issues defined in our Problem Statement.


Service Ecosystem Mapping

As we iterated further into solution design, we could construct service ecosystem views depicting the “big picture”.

AS-IS: The flow of information from the customer to the business is confused and fractured across multiple operational team siloes, resulting in duplication, delay, error and redundancy.

Service Ecosystem Mapping

As we iterated further into solution design, we could construct service ecosystem views depicting the “big picture”.

TO-BE: We envisage a self-service platform allowing clients a simple, unified digital onboarding experience that seamlessly transfers information to Ops teams with optimised workflow and dynamic case management.


Service Blueprints

After mapping out the customer journey, we visualised the interplay between frontstage customer actions and backstage business logic, technology and systems of our solutions on service blueprints.

As-Is Blueprint

We mapped out an As-Is blueprint based on information gathered during discovery, tracking how the service flows between multiple teams. This blueprint was a summation of months of research. Sections of the blueprint were segregated and sent out to various operational areas for validation. Once validated, we enriched the blueprint with additional details, mapping pain points to processes, teams and systems. This blueprint remains a living document.

Iterate And Refine


From our research and ideation, we designed low-fidelity wireframe visualisations of the to-be client experience. These wireframe concepts were tested with customers and iterated until we were satisfied with the new experience and interaction design. We then converted our wireframes into a high-definition interactive prototype with high fidelity to the client’s brand identity and design system.


Our solution offers a digital self-service platform for clients and a guided wizard with precise requirements, defined by a rules-engine and documents matrix. A new dynamic case management framework enables and optimises backstage processes.

Key Features

Single Sign-on Platform Integration

The single sign-on platform represents a clear entry point for clients, utilising single sign-on protocols and an entitlements framework.

Digital Self-Service Platform

Replacing the many manual forms clients must complete is a streamlined digital experience with validation to prevent data capture errors.

Dynamic Case Management

Siloed teams will have a single source of truth, with all tasks, fund data and information unified under the banner of a standard, transparent DCM framework.

Rules Engine And Documents Matrix

Replacing inconsistent document requests and information routing is a rules-based framework for building dynamic requirements and directing workflow efficiently.

Dynamic Custom Role Configuration

Clients may configure entitlements and roles, and specific onboarding client tasks are directed accordingly.


Radically Improved Turn-Around Times

Process optimisation and automation, dynamic case management and rules-based task routing result in fewer onboarding delays.

Clear, Audited Communication Across Teams

The ability to view all the information about a case in a single place and log issues, resulting in improved communication across siloes.

Digital Authorisations/Signoffs

Digital approvals and signoffs can replace the heavy manual document requirements (with multiple redundancies) of the past.

Flexibility Of Roles

The system encourages clients to establish roles to suit their needs, and the system will distribute tasks accordingly.

Client Self-Service Empowered

The OMF interface has been designed from the ground up to empower clients so that they are not reliant on the Relationship Managers’ input at multiple stages in the process.