Over the span of nearly two decades working in the currency industry I have been asked many times if there are defined best practices for cash vault services. In the early stages of my career I believed that there must exist ideal and exclusive list of best practices for cash vault services and that these could be applied to any vault operation anywhere in the world. I have since come to appreciate the idealistic nature of that belief. The simple truth is that best practices for cash vault services do exist, but that they can differ quite radically from vault to vault. It is now my belief thatÂ best practices for cash vault services must be researched thoroughly (a very hard thing to do), fitted to your own regulatory and legislative rules, moulded to fit within the confines of your operation, refined to fit with your staff and then analyzed for efficiency and effectiveness. Once that process is complete you should regularly revisit this best practices and question whether they are still applicable within the evolving realities of fluctuating cash demand and supply.
I recently spent a number of months working with a Bank in the USA that is committed to keeping their cash vault services in house and to becoming one of the premiere suppliers in a competitive industry that is equally committed to outsourcing a business they see as non-core competency. I applaud their desire to keep the business in-house and we agree on the value of customer service that only an in-house solution can offer. That said, I was very surprised to learn how they are defining and adapting their own set of best practices for cash vault services.
Senior management has defined a set of best practices that achieve the requirement of standardization. However over the implementation period it became apparent that there were many small exceptions at each vault that ultimately created a high variation in the measurements used to judge success. For many months senior management and vault staff strove to understand the reasons for these differences. After all, it would seem logical that if you defined a set of best practices for cash vault services and applied them with ruthless intolerance for variation, then all vaults should operate at the same levels of efficiency and effectiveness. In reality it became readily apparent that this ruthless application of best practices could not result in predictable and repeatable operations across a multi-vault network. So the questions were asked about how to resolve this variance and still maximizeÂ efficiency and effectiveness for every vault.
Site Specific Application of Cash Vault Best Practices
One Vault Manager, who is referred to by peers as a bit of a non-conformist decided to re-test the application of best practices and to adjust one function or process at a time, measure the result over the course of a few weeks and then either adopt the new idea or not, depending on the outcome. They never strayed too far from theÂ best practices for cash vault services as defined by senior management lest they get into trouble for deviating without permission. The results are intriguing and have caused senior management to refine their expectations for application of theirÂ best practices for cash vault services. Now each vault is encouraged to test new functions and processes and if they have a positive result, senior management will allow the procedures for that vault to reflect the change. It is NOT assumed that a small change that works in one vault will automatically work in another. All staff in each vault are encouraged to make suggestions and no suggestion is rejected without at least a group discussion. If the suggestion makes it past the group discussion and is approved for testing then that new process is tested – one at a time – for a minimum of 3 weeks, measured, tracked and scrutinized and then adopted if it proves to be effective.
An unforeseen bonus has been a significant lift in employee job satisfaction. We all know that cash vaults are not the best working environments and that the pressure and stress of constant deadlines can take a toll on staff. I can tell you from first-hand experience that ALL of the staff in these vaults feel empowered to help make change and that they feel important to the success of their operation.
It seems to make sense to start with a standardized set ofÂ best practices for cash vault services, then de-construct them on a site-by-site basis to find the best practices for your vault. Yet this is not the end of the exercise. Once you have defined and adopted your variation ofÂ best practices for cash vault services you must repeatedly and frequently test them for continued validity. Given that we work in an industry that is based on exceptions and that has an enormous amount of “moving parts” that are outside of the vault managers control, I now believe that being committed to questioning, testing, measuring and constantly changing when improvement is achieved is the best way to keep your customers happy, your costs within set limits, your bosses off your back and to know – for sure – that you have discovered yourÂ best practices for cash vault services.