Reader Question #2: We are a $600-million credit union. Each year the CEO has our IT Department create a strategic plan of our own that we present to the board. One question we have to answer is where we believe our credit union and others are weakest technology-wise. Could your panel give some input here?

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John Schooler, President, USERS

We're hearing that credit unions in general have adequate system functionality, but that functionality tends to reside in many different applications that don't work together well.

For most credit unions today, completing a routine business process such as a member address change requires the updating of multiple systems. When credit unions use systems that don't interface, they bear the costs of waste and inefficiency (through redundant data entry, increased errors, or slower service); lost opportunities to retain or expand relationships (when staff focuses on operational tasks instead of sales and service); and member frustration and confusion (since different channels don't always present consistent data to the member). As a result, better integration of existing systems is fast becoming a top priority for credit unions and their system suppliers.

As part of your strategic IT planning, I would advise your credit union to examine your business processes and determine if there are opportunities to improve them (i.e. to reduce waste, cut redundant steps, increase accuracy, or improve service) by better integrating your existing systems. Then, find out if your current supplier or other providers can help in leveraging your systems to optimize your business processes.

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