Five Questions With: Dan DeCosta

Dan DeCosta is chief information officer for BayCoast Bank, where he has worked since 2002, beginning as an information technology technician. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business information systems from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

PBN: How did you/your department help expedite the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program loan application process at BayCoast Bank?  

DECOSTA: To handle the large volume of applications we anticipated receiving through the SBA’s PPP loan program, and knowing the impact it would have on the community and the businesses we serve, it was important for us to build a way for our staff to accept these applications and keep them organized all the way through to booking.

There were a lot of moving parts to the PPP loan application process, and they all needed to happen quickly and accurately, so building as much automation around the process as we could was key. We utilized our data integration tools and our CRM [customer relationship management] to build out an effective workflow that was continually customized as new guidance was received and through great feedback on what our users’ needs were to successfully complete the loan process for our customers.

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PBN: How, if at all, have bank-related IT services changed in the time of the new coronavirus?  

DECOSTA: Certainly, the biggest change is the shift of the organization’s workforce primarily operating from home. I would imagine most banks had tools to support this but had never deployed on such a large scale before. Supporting that type of remote workforce comes with its own challenges as well.

IT staff now must maintain and troubleshoot many more devices and connections than they would normally. For example, at our operations center, we have about 200 users during normal operations. Those users normally access the internet and external services through just a couple of high-capacity external connections. Now, these users are accessing what they need each from their own internet connection, so our IT staff must support and troubleshoot 200 internet connections/networking devices, etc.

PBN: Why is it important for a bank to have a strong IT department?

DECOSTA: As with most businesses today, a significant portion of financial services are dependent on technology. Without having the properly skilled employees to maintain, support and improve that technology, operations can easily be negatively impacted. An IT staff member who can fix a problem in minutes versus hours can prevent days or even weeks of downtime throughout a year.

In addition, a strong IT department is necessary to support cybersecurity initiatives and protections against the numerous threats that are out there. The bank’s reputation counts on the strength of our technological infrastructure, both staff and systems alike.

PBN: What major IT enhancements are planned for BayCoast in the next year?

DECOSTA: I am very fortunate here at BayCoast that our entire leadership group and the board of directors all understand the importance that technology plays in today’s world and encourage me and my team to implement new tools and applications to continue advancing our organization.

Utilization of that technology and systems is a primary goal for our technology department over the next year. For instance, by removing the burden of certain manual tasks through automation, we allow for greater efficiencies on the back end. This creates additional opportunities to focus our efforts on growth and servicing our customers and community rather than mundane tasks.

PBN: What are some of the major IT achievements you have helped with at BayCoast?  

DECOSTA: I began in the BayCoast IT department in 2002 and have seen our organization grow substantially over that time and our technology along with it. It’s hard for me to pick out specific projects but I would say some of the most significant changes in the IT space over the years would be virtualization, mobile devices, data integration and cloud computing.

The recent events surrounding the coronavirus have shown that decisions we have made in technology over the course of the last five years have given us the tools to keep providing excellent service to the community today. Our investment in interactive teller machines, electronic signatures, cloud-based systems and more have shown their value.

Other than restrictions surrounding allowing customers to physically enter our facilities, BayCoast has essentially had zero interruptions in service. That, I believe, is an outstanding achievement for not just myself and the IT staff but really the entire BayCoast family.

Nancy Lavin is a staff writer for PBN. Contact her at Lavin@pbn.com.