When my teenage son is interested in purchasing a mobile phone, some PC equipment, or a games console, he will typically spend weeks gathering the necessary information to arrive at a well-informed decision. He once told me that he feels this is necessary to make the best use of his savings — a trait that I do not always observe banks around the world exhibiting.

Recently I had a phone call with a few people from the business side of a medium-size bank somewhere in the world. Their challenge? They wanted to use the best method to find the mobile banking application most suited to their bank. Their real challenge? They had no time to make a deeper assessment of their individual business and technology situation and only wanted to get proof that their approach would be the right one. They wanted a clear recommendation within a few days.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. When I know nothing about a bank’s business environment, its supporting application landscape, and its underlying technology, I am very reluctant to offer more than a long list of business applications, regardless of whether the topic at hand is mobile or cross-channel solutions, core banking, or something else. This is in line with a research report about best practices for banking platform transformation that Forrester published some time ago. At the time, we identified a few key reasons common to major banking platform transformation failures. One of those reasons: ill-designed shortcuts.

There are more opportunities to use ill-designed shortcuts than most of us can even conceive of. However, ill-designed selection processes executed with haste are very common. Don’t get me wrong here: By no means am I advocating writing RFPs with thousands of business and technology criteria that nobody is likely to be able to evaluate at any sensible level of depthquite the opposite, in fact.

Mobile and Internet banking solutions relate to systems of engagement that likely have a shorter life cycle than a core banking solution, which is a system of record that a bank will often use for decades. Nevertheless, they will determine how a bank can cost-effectively deliver its products and services across one or more channels with a good-enough or even great customer experience for years to come. Thus, banks should take just as much care to avoid ill-designed shortcuts when evaluating short-lived solutions as they would for more long-term solutions. Ill-designed shortcuts will likely endanger their competitiveness more than extending a selection process by a few weeks would.

Let me know what think. As always, I appreciate your feedback: JHoppermann (at) Forrester.com