Seeking To Better Schedule Demands On IT Dept., Ent FCU Raises Its Own iQueue

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Category: Information Technology

In 2004, Ent Federal Credit Union converted to Symitar to serve as its new host system. During the transition period, management had placed a hold on all requests to the information technology (IT) department that weren't necessary to keep the CU operating.

While the requests for IT help were placed on hold, the demand wasn't. As soon as the Symitar conversion was finished, the IT request tickets started streaming in and Ent officials knew they had to get organized. Instead of searching the market, they created their own tool to help set priorities. The result was an in-house-designed, intranet system named iQueue that helps Ent staff create priorities, set goals and allows all employees to monitor the progress at any time.

Ent officials say iQueue provides a framework where IT development and testing resources can be allocated by job type and the number of hours it takes to complete the task.

Senior and department managers meet each month to determine the priority of all requests and which are relevant to all departments or "corporate level" requests. Corporate level requests are placed higher in iQueue and assigned more assets.

iQueue offers other advantages as well, according to the credit union: it eliminates duplication of effort, reduces unnecessary work and helps keep everyone on the same sheet of music.

"A lot of departments didn't know what the others were up to," according to Chad Graves, VP of information technology.

Ent IT requests are categorized by department and shown on screen. Member service representatives (MSRs) who must implement new loan campaigns can see new projects that might affect them as they develop and plan accordingly. For example, if the marketing department logs onto IQueue and sees the timeline for a new loan drive, marketing officials can begin planning how large a mailing campaign might be, begin to develop in-branch displays, and create other support marketing materials, such as flyers, envelope stuffers or brochures. James Moore, SVP-corporate development, said iQueue is a useful tool that helps managers keep their eyes on the horizon during busy workdays.

"It's a natural tendency for people to put their heads down and get to work," Moore said. "It's almost like a referee system."

Angela Otis, systems integration manager at Ent, said the best measure of iQueue's success is with intangible factors such as staff communication and internal satisfaction. Department managers don't have to compete for support, which helps reduce friction among Ent staffers. Managers know they're getting their fair share of IT time, learn who's working on their request, track the progress and see when it's due to be complete.

"They know IT is actively working on the problem. They can see the status at any time," Otis said.

Ent also reports that IT requests that are identified as "corporate" programs are brought to market faster, as it is assigned a higher priority, more resources or both. Since iQueue was placed into effect, Ent has enacted an online loan application that automatically approves 25% of submitted applications; introduced a Skip-A-Pay program that allowed nearly 5,000 members to skip a loan payment during the 2004 holiday season; and, Ent began an elective email service that notifies members when certain events happen in their accounts such as when checks or deposits are cleared. In July 2005, 5,000 email alerts were sent out to members. Ent FCU has 157,325 members with assets of $1.8 billion.

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