What business units have employees in the program? How did you select these units?
ML: We chose business units based on the volume of requests coming in and their willingness to try the program.
We picked consumer loans and IT when we first started more than a year ago. We’ve since expanded into mortgage lending and payments systems. These are business units that have significant impact on organizational revenue and member experience but don’t have incentive-based pay. Ideally, we’d target retail delivery and others like that in the branch network, but we would have to account for their missed sales in some capacity.
How did you choose the employees you did?
ML: Business unit managers choose practitioners who have a desire to learn. In most cases, these are younger folks who had some interest in analytics or in doing something beyond what they're currently doing. The program affords an opportunity for employees to enrich their employment and learn a new skill.
CU QUICK FACTS
Wings Financial Credit Union
HQ: Apple Valley, MN
Data as of 03.31.18
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 3.5%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 23.2%
Do you use a grading system to measure how proficient they are?
ML: We’re working on that right now. With the help of the manager or vice president the practitioner reports to, we set a performance goal that’s mapped to the program and grade them based on items delivered.
We’re working on measuring proficiency with the tool and things like that, but their ability to deliver something that is both acceptable and functional for the business unit is really the statement of their knowledge of the software.
How does Wings benefit from this program? How does the employee?
ML: From an organizational standpoint, our practitioners are helping us align the analytics with the business. They help enrich the business unit’s usage of data.
For the individual, this allows high-performing employees to step into something a little more strategic, less operational. And, it will help them in their career. These folks have really taken an interest in BI and analytics and have communicated some desire to move into this space in the long-term.
We still have a center of expertise with our BI and analytics team, but we're able to distribute knowledge all through the business units.
How long have you had the program?
ML: The two practitioners who started the program have been in it for longer than 12 months. We found that once the business unit adopted the analytics, the work didn’t dry up. So, if we initially had a list of 20 things, and we delivered those, we now have a list of 40. More questions are being asked of the practitioners and it’s helping the decision-makers in the business units make better decisions.
The second two are six months in.
What sort of feedback have you received from the practitioners themselves?
ML: They’re excited by their work. If nothing less, our BI and analytics team is run like a consulting unit, though I consider it more of a servant to the organization. We serve our organization; those who work well on our team are those who are able to serve.
It’s a mentality shift that comes with working for a credit union. The service we provide within the organization is rewarding because the net effect is for the entire membership to benefit.
Can you talk more about the service aspect?
ML: As a credit union, we are focused on our membership. But the truth is we get to serve our members. Instead of taking from the customer and giving to the shareholder, we work to provide value to our member-owners. Our analytics team, and certainly our practitioner program, are looking to reinforce that by serving our business unit leaders to make better decisions that benefit our entire membership.
What lessons have you learned since starting this program?
ML: We started out thinking too much. We built it thinking we needed essentially to train our replacements. We’ve found the sweet spot that aligns these practitioners in a way that they can be the resident experts within their business unit and still rely on insights from our BI and analytics team. It provides us with a hybrid analytics model. We still have a center of expertise with our BI and analytics team, but we are able to distribute knowledge all through the business units.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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