Make Technology More Efficient

Ten tips for increasing technology and operational efficiency.

September 1, 2010

Information technology is the third-biggest expense for credit unions behind staffing and facilities, says Rudy Pereira, senior vice president of operations and technology at $7 billion asset Alliant Credit Union in Chicago and chair of the CUNA Technology Council. With earnings pressures likely to continue, “2010 should be a year of automating tasks and work processes to drive efficiency,” he says.

Pereira offers 10 tips for increasing technology and operational efficiency:

1. Automate work flow. Enterprise content management will make processes more efficient.

2. Integrate platforms and information from various departments. An integrated platform can handle 90% of calls from members.

3. Adopt virtualization. By consolidating and reducing the number of servers, Pereira’s credit union saved 60% in costs and reduced energy use.

4. Consider cloud computing. Linking a large group of servers via high-speed networks to create a massive data storage system is in the future.

Benefits of cloud computing include scalability, skilled vendors, reduced costs, flexibility, higher service quality, security, and privacy. Small companies and start-ups are at the front of the trend because they haven’t invested in legacy systems that need replacement.

5. Embrace task automation, including job scheduling, lock box, and log reviews. Automation allows the tech staff to work on meaningful projects.

6. Encourage member self-service. At Alliant, 32% of members used online services in 2005. That rose to 60% in 2009.

Among hot new self-service options are ATMs with check image capture and mobile remote deposit capture.

7. Adopt continuous process improvement. By breaking through patterns of “the way it’s always been done,” credit unions can improve service, ensure quality, and reduce expenses.

8. Use fraud analysis tools for online banking, ATMs, and self-service phones. Insurers are putting more responsibility on credit unions to manage their fraud losses.

9. Have single sign-ons. Having a single password to log in to all the credit union’s systems reduces help-desk calls, saves employees time waiting to reset passwords, reduces the risk of passwords being written down, adds layered security, and engages employees.

10. Collaborate. Consider partnering with other credit unions to use the same core system and staff. The key is standardization among vendors, which can boost efficiency.