Technology planning is an inexact process. Just when budgets and resources are in place for an annual plan, a disruptor is sure to hit the marketplace, or a line of business will need an immediate upgrade, throwing previous projections out the window.
That’s all the more reason to have an annual plan, says Loretta Weller-Mowers, a digital strategic consultant with CU Engage.
“That’s what the plan is for: to keep you on track when things don’t go the way you initially planned,” she says.
That way, credit unions can jump on new technologies when warranted or decide to wait if other priorities take precedent, Weller-Mowers says.
A technology plan also can eliminate surprises when needs arise in credit union departments. Without a plan, these needs might not be communicated to the information technology (IT) department.
“The next thing you know someone needs it tomorrow, which creates a lot of angst,” Weller-Mowers says. “Make sure your technology plan aligns your business strategy with your capital expense budget.”
The strategic technology plan typically is held under the “ownership” of a single credit union department, typically IT or operations. But without question, the plan should be a group document developed with input from all business units.
That is certainly the case at $564 million asset Kellogg Community Credit Union in Battle Creek, Mich.
“We do a strategic planning event every year across all lines of business,” says Maria Haight, chief operations officer. “There will be projects that affect IT, and there may be hardware and integrations. But we know ahead of time what we need to make happen.”
She says Kellogg Community assembles a three-year road map, which she fine tunes into a one-year plan with specific projects.
“Does that mean other things don’t come up? Of course not,” Haight says. “Sometimes it might trump something else, and other times it might be an add-on.”