Part one of a five-part series about capturing wasted resources in unexpected places
Credit unions are growing — individually, and industry-wide. More than one out of three Americans — more than 100 million total — are credit union members. A new generation of potential members is reaching financial maturity and looking for home and auto financing, investment options, payment services and other everyday transaction assistance. Emerging technology and soaring adoption rates of smartphones and social media have revolutionized how they choose their financial providers — and therefore how you must attract and retain this new business. Fortunately, the community-focused nature of credit unions is in lockstep with the sensibilities of this virtually untapped and underbanked younger demographic. These are exciting times for credit unions, poised for explosive growth.
Threats To Credit Union Growth Potential
With this surge in membership has come a corresponding surge in the cost of business. Employees are spending more time interacting with members directly, and they’re spending more time behind the scenes on business operations.
Meanwhile, big banks and non-traditional providers are vying for the attention of the same consumers with new services and technologies. These days, credit unions must offer new services such as mobile deposit and bill pay, online loan origination, and membership applications just to stay in the game.
With demands escalating for resources, funding growth becomes a daunting challenge. The key to balancing business growth with the cost of doing business is to identify areas where improved systems and productivity can yield the savings necessary to serve more members more effectively.
Yes, credit unions have been beating the drums of efficiency and productivity for a long time, and have made many useful changes. Is there anything new to find? The answer is, for almost all credit unions, yes, there are more insidious sources of waste with which to do battle. But how?
Enter Document Management As The Unexpected Hero
Credit union employees handle paper and electronic records every day and in every member interaction. So even a small process improvement can profoundly affect a credit union’s operation and bottom line. Every dollar redirected from routine tasks toward responding to members is worth many more in growth and future earnings.
According to a 2014 study from Bluepoint Solutions, 84% of credit unions — the majority by far — are still using a combination of paper-based and electronic systems to manage documents and other content. Paper comes with obvious hard costs for paper, printers, copiers, couriers, storage space, and transportation logistics.
More significantly, it generates a surprising amount of time waste: time employees spend to print it, share it, copy it, file and store it, move it around, locate it when it’s needed again, and — sometimes — reproduce it when it goes missing. Gartner, ARMA, and AIIM put the cost of this time spent per knowledge worker at $4,500 a year. None of this time is spent creating value for your members.
Everything Starts With Eliminating Paper
Cabrillo Credit Union was recognized in 2014 with a Credit Union Journal Best Practices Award for successfully using a comprehensive enterprise content management solution. Though the credit union had been running a document imaging system for almost 10 years, they were still housing an entire room full of paper, and dedicating staff to processing paper. When they implemented an integrated ECM system, they did away with on-site document archiving entirely, because the new digital archives were accessible throughout the branch network. Cabrillo achieved an immediate 40% reduction in paper and 100% decrease in courier services. More important, they redirected the 20% surplus of employee time to member-facing, value-creating activities.
The Bottom Line About Going Paperless
Each sheet of paper removed from credit union operations represents significant potential cost savings, both hard and soft, and should be the first place you look to create greater efficiency in your institution.
The next article in this series examines the fractured storage in place at many credit unions, uncovering ways to align your business practices with your member-oriented operations.
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