To cut operating costs and take advantage of leading-edge technology, a group of credit unions in the Atlanta area has joined in a shared-facilities management arrangement with EDS Credit Union Services, a unit of Electronic Data Systems Corp.

The arrangement is enabling the five credit unions to share costs, upgrade their computer operations to client-server processing, and take advantage of satellite communications. EDS is also providing the credit unions with an on-site systems expert dedicated solely to their technology needs.

On their own, the credit unions could never have afforded such services and capabilities, said Jerry Maughon, general manager of Circle 10 Federal Credit Union. Circle 10, with 11,000 members and $27 million in assets, was the first of EDS' customers to buy into the shared facilities idea.

"My EDS rep asked me about a year and a half ago if I'd be interested in a shared-facilities management concept," and Mr. Maughon. "I said, 'Definitely.' The arrangement allows us to expand our service and increase our level of technology."

The other credit unions in the arrangement are Ethicon Credit Union, with 1,100 members and $5 million in assets; Human Services Employees Credit Union, with 7,800 members and $9 million in assets; IBEW Local 613 Credit Union, 1,800 members and $1.6 million in assets; and Atlanta City Employees Credit Union, 8,600 members and $20 million in assets.

EDS' On-Line System

All the companies, with the exception of Atlanta City, were already processing on EDS' Flagship Premier On-Line System and performing transactions using dumb terminals. Atlanta City was processing on an in-house mainframe and dumb terminal system that was over 10 years old.

"From a technology standpoint, we were in Jurassic Park," said E. Tyrone Burke, vice president of operations at the credit union.

With the shared facilities arrangement, all the credit unions are on-line with EDS' Premier service, but instead of dumb terminals, they're operating on a network of personal computers, in a client-server environment. An International Business Machines Corp. AS/400, installed at Circle 10, functions as the network file and print server for all the credit unions.

One of the benefits of the AS/400 is that it supports a variety of automation tools, such as word processing, spreadsheet programs, and E-mail, which are made available to user desktops. Member account information from the EDS host system can be downloaded to the AS/400, and reports can be printed onsite at the credit unions.

Routing and Transmission

On-line transactions from all the credit unions are routed through the AS/400 and transmitted to the Premier system via a satellite dish on the roof of Circle 10. The other credit unions are linked to the AS/400 by land lines.

This arrangement cuts down on telecommunications costs, explained Mr. Maughon, because all the companies communicate by satellite instead of each paying for dedicated lines to link up directly with EDS' processing center in Plano, Tex.

"And downtime has been practically nonexistent," added Mr. Maughon.

Circle 10 began running entirely over the new network in August.

In addition to cost savings and better technology, the presence of an on-site EDS systems expert is a real advantage, said Atlanta City's Mr. Burke.

EDS, which has about 2,000 credit union customers, is looking to build its customer base for the shared-facilities management arrangement. The citywide network will be expanded throughout the state.

Nationwide Services

In other news, two credit unions have taken the first step toward providing nationwide member services by performing the first transcontinental service center transaction between their two networks.

The two credit union organizations that performed the transactions, on April 25, were Financial Service Centers Cooperative in California and the Credit Union Service Corporation Network, based in Atlanta. Deluxe Data of Milwaukee provides the switching services and national network link.

The network link means members of each organization will have access to shared service centers throughout the nation. Members who move out of state no longer have to dissolve their relationships with their credit unions.

The national network is owned by the two credit union organizations and CU Cooperative Systems Inc., based in Pamona, Calif.

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