Special Report, Part I: Technology Best Practices

Debit debacle leads CU to a homegrown solution.

October 29, 2010

Even highly customizable software applications sometimes require the development of tools the vendor forgot to include.

Envision Credit Union, Tallahassee, Fla., used its internal knowledge base and the skills of staff members to address a vendor deficiency that could have proved disastrous.

The $220 million asset credit union jokes that its approach was similar to that taken by the Little Red Hen of the beloved children’s tale. When working with others who were unwilling or unable to offer the help she needed, the Little Red Hen fell back on a tried-and-true response: “Then I’ll do it myself.”

Envision’s creative, do-it-yourself solution won a 2010 CUNA Technology Council Best Practices Award in the miscellaneous category.

A massive problem

Subscribe to Credit Union MagazineEnvision’s problems began when the credit union changed vendors for debit/personal identification number (PIN) processing.

The credit union quickly learned that the pre-conversion process was inadequate to prepare for post-conversion issues as reconciliation problems occurred on a massive scale.

The electronic funds transfer (EFT) department was at a loss as it pondered options for reconciling internal member accounting systems with activity reports from its new debit/PIN solution.

Envision’s internal information technology (IT) group, its core processor, and its accounting staff pitched in to examine the problem. The vendor also shared its expertise.

Yet the inability to properly balance member accounts remained a problem at the end of every day. Anxiety levels rose as days turned into weeks.

Next: An overwhelming task

An overwhelming task

Six weeks after the conversion, the credit union completed the research required to determine the steps for obtaining an accurate reconciliation.

Solving the problem would require gathering transaction-level information daily from five different data files, each of which typically contains more than 40,000 transactions.

That ruled out manual reconciliation as an option because it would be an overwhelming task, similar to attempting to find sets of matching needles in several different haystacks.

Instead, a software solution was demanded.

A software solution

Credit union staff began working on a software application capable of automating the reconciliation process while also identifying errant transactions.

The software application acquires and compares data from international service assessment, bank identification number, and ATM files to create a combined exception list, as shown by this diagram:

Technology best practices

After Envision deployed its custom reconciliation application, the EFT and accounting staffs were able to perform documented reconciliations back to the beginning of the conversion and up through the current date.

The software solution effectively resolved a situation that otherwise could have resulted in membership losses and other negative consequences.

Like the Little Red Hen, the staff at Envision Credit Union found that sometimes the only real solution is to solve the problem by yourself.

View the full entry [pdf] and visit the CUNA Councils website to learn more about the CUNA Technology Council and the Best Practice Awards.