A Smart Checklist Strategy

Keys to an Effective Implementation

Kyle Huntzberry, Co-Founder • February 17th, 2022
3 min read

Smart Checklist and its benefits

Smart Checklist is one of the more “controversial” features that nCino has. It seems that some Financial Institutions love it and others struggle to see the full value. To understand this contention, in this article we’ll talk about what Smart Checklist is, the benefits of it, why Smart Checklist implementations can sometimes fail, and recommendations for a successful rollout.

Smart Checklist is fairly self-explanatory; it’s a feature that allows you to automatically display and manage requirements that your employees need to complete at certain stages of a deal. It has an easy-to-use UI that allows you to track progress through statuses, see which stages have the most bottlenecks, assign requirements to users or roles, and even satisfy requirements when certain documents are uploaded.

The real benefit of Smart Checklist, however, is transitioning your institution from a system of individual checklists with no visibility to a system where checklists are standardized, tracked, and conveniently reported on.

nCino Smart Checklist UI

Why do institutions often have trouble implementing Smart Checklist?

1. The discovery process can be extremely tasking. 

Smart Checklist is one of the toughest features to discover for because of how many checklists are floating around the institution. Let’s take commercial lending for example: there are so many different requirements among lines of business, products, and roles. Given the robust nature of Smart Checklist, this process can take an extremely long time. 

2. It is very easy to over engineer. 

Smart Checklist is a really flexible feature; institutions can create requirements for each product, dynamically display requirements based on other features like Collateral, add hard stops if certain requirements aren’t met, and assign requirements to specific roles. When Smart Checklist gets overly complicated, it becomes very difficult to maintain by administrators and can often lead to the feature breaking and workflows being interrupted. 

3. User adoption can be challenging.

With every nCino feature there is a challenge to get users to buy-in, but Smart Checklist in particular can be a difficult one to adopt. We often see this from RMs who are used to a checklist in their head and don’t want to go in and update the requirements on all of their loans. For the feature to be effective, users must constantly be updating the requirement’s status on every deal they’re working on. This can be tough to get used to and mandate by the institution. 

What’s the answer to an effective Smart Checklist implementation?

We recommend a slow-roll approach to this feature. Given how challenging discovery is and how complicated the feature can get, we believe it is best to roll out Smart Checklist to a pilot group of users (usually a specific role) in a given line of business.

Typically, we recommend having the doc prep and/or closing team be the first groups to adopt the feature. These teams usually follow checklists because it’s necessary they have all documents prepared and collected by closing/funding. If you start with those teams for just the C&I line of business, for example, you reduce the timeline to collect all requirements and are much more likely to drive user adoption. An effective pilot then gives institutions a blueprint to start expanding to other roles, products, and lines of business.