MAKING IT COUNT

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As Information Technology departments across industries struggle to do more with fewer employees, Bill Burrows is intent on proving that his IT team is worth its salt.

The CIO of $660-million EECU quickly relays a number of examples that build a case for his IT department. "We've got very talented people," Burrows said.

For example, Burrows and two IT programmers helped the CU save $1.2 million last year after they brought Symitar's MemberConnect homebanking in-house, tweaking the platform and doing their own tune-ups, he said.

Technology has made a measurable difference for every department at the credit union, Burrows added. "The IT staff here is very proactive, with a constant stream of ideas for making the credit union more agile."

Good thing, because most IT department are working double-time, according to last month's survey of more than 200 readers of CIO, an online journal for IT executives. More than 75% of the respondents said IT is understaffed, CIO reported.

At EECU, the IT staff of eight is charged with guaranteeing "agility" not only at the credit union's website, but across the organization, Burrows said.

"I like to think of IT as improving the quality of life at the credit union," he explained. "The IT staff uses development tools to make it easier for the front line and backoffice people to connect with members."

IT helped foil a "significant" fraud ring in 2003 after EECU detected a pattern of multiple cash withdrawals at multiple locations made by the fraudsters, said Burrows.

About a half-hour after the pattern was discovered, an EECU programmer had written a data query that identified that pattern in the CU's transaction history, he continued. The 95,000-member CU then was able to instantly identify and warn tellers when the pattern resurfaced.

"We've reduced fraud loss by 90%, and we've continued at a low level," Burrows said.

The fraud identification program has spawned a host of in-house early warning programs, including about 30 alerts for data entry and member relationship staff, he said.

Whereas the EECU IT staff wrote the programs that make life better for CU staff, it didn't create the software tools to write the programs, Burrows said.

"We're on Symitar's Episys, and for in-house development we use the basic software development tools that come with that platform, including Power On, Symconnect, and SymForm," he said.

Always looking to maintain a balance, the credit union at times looks outside for software development, said Burrows. "We do consult with third parties. It really depends on how fast the program needs to be developed and how critical the program is."

Last year EECU worked with Symitar Consulting Services to ameliorate a cumbersome consumer loan platform. Employees spent a half hour completing nine loan screens, often with duplicate data entry, for each new consumer loan, said Burrows.

Now, employees can input a loan in 10 minutes using just four screens - no redundant data entry required, he said. In addition, the team set up automated, instant approvals and back-end document images.

IT has applied its prowess to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) processes as well, Burrows said.

"CRM systems are abysmal failures, by and large," he said. EECU turned CRM around by tying sales to the platform - and by building sales incentives into the platform, he said.

"All of the sales tracking is done in the CRM system now, so if salespeople don't use the system they don't get their sales incentives," he added.

CUJ Resources

For additional information on this story:

* EECU at www.eecu.org *

* Symitar at www.symitar.com

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