Teamwork Drives Improvements At MSUFCU

A handful of employees have worked across the Michigan cooperative to identify nearly 250 ways to improve efficiencies, member service, the employee experience, and more.

 
 

Top-Level Takeaways

  • MSUFCU paired business systems analysts with business unit leaders to identify ways to improve the credit union.
  • The improvement team identified nearly 250 projects. Immediate improvements included items like e-signatures and branch scheduling tools.

Even the pandemic couldn’t stop Michigan State University Federal Credit Union ($5.5B, East Lansing, MI) from executing on a strategy of self-improvement.

A small team working closely with colleagues across the enterprise has helped the big cooperative identify a couple of hundred processes and procedures primed for improvement.

Here, chief marketing officer Deidre Davis describes the improvement initiative, which MSUFCU launched with an eye toward improving member service, creating new efficiencies, lowering costs, and boosting employee engagement.

Deidre Davis, CMO, MSUFCU

What is this improvement initiative at MSUFCU?

Deidre Davis: Our goal with this was to identify projects that would enhance efficiencies, help us provide superior member service, and enhance the employee experience.

Our business solutions team, which is part of our IT department, worked with our executives to identify areas where we might be able to gain efficiencies. The team classified each project in terms of the resources it would take and the benefit to the organization, including efficiency gains and cost reductions.

In total, we identified 246 potential projects.

What areas of the enterprise do these projects target?

DD: We’ve identified projects in every area of our organization. As part of our pandemic response, many departments updated processes and implemented more efficient solutions. These solutions included electronic checklists, digital proofing, centralized printing, ITM deployment, and branch appointment scheduling software. We also accelerated the launch of Webex teams and meetings for more efficient remote communication and collaboration.

CU QUICK FACTS

Michigan State University FCU
Data as of 09.30.20

HQ: East Lansing, MI
ASSETS: $5.5B
MEMBERS: 298,831
BRANCHES: 20
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 23.3%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 10.6%
ROA: 0.84%

How did you identify these projects and processes?

DD: Executives asked the managers and employees of their divisions for ideas regarding processes that could be improved. Then, each area’s business systems analyst [BSA] met with that area’s executive to discuss potential projects and processes.

At the meeting between the BSA and the executive, the executive described each project and answered questions posed by the BSA so they had a thorough understanding of the issue. In the initial meetings, we also identified who on the executive’s team would be the best contact person when that project was next in line.

What happened after you identified projects?

DD: Once executives identified projects, we created a comprehensive list of all projects and prioritized them based on factors such as the size and scope of the project, the resources needed to complete the project, and how the project fit into our credit union’s strategic and tactical plans. We want to use resources wisely and ensure we don’t sacrifice other planned projects. Finally, we determined the impact of completing the project, including whether it would enhance the member experience, generate cost savings, or improve employee satisfaction. 

A 6 Pack Of Successful Projects

Deidre Davis, CMO at MSUFCU, says several improvement projects made an immediate impact on the Michigan cooperative. A few of those projects include:

  • Automating reports/notices.
  • Adjusting nightly and monthly processes to run more quickly.
  • Adjusting PDF file saving and batch uploading to Synergy; i.e., document imaging.
  • Adding forms to DocuSign for remote signatures.
  • Adding application access to iPads for the facilities team.
  • Implementing a ticketing system for tracking work requests for several departments.

Who does the work? What tools do they use?

DD: This depends on the project and what is involved in the implementation or process change. Thus far, the majority of projects have fallen within the scope of IT’s responsibility, but other departments have been involved on an as-needed basis.

How far along are you in implementing improvements? Have you completed some projects?

DD: We have completed about 10% of the projects we initially identified. We plan to continue the implementation and process improvement indefinitely, as a continual effort to ensure we’re operating at the highest efficiency level possible while ensuring the best possible experience for members and employees.

What opportunities does this kind of project present? How are you leveraging those opportunities?

DD: Generating the list of potential projects allowed us to think about why we do some things the way we do. It’s also been a great opportunity to transform our organization into a more efficient one, saving both time and money by automating where can. That allows our employees to spend more time on meaningful member interactions that will help our credit union grow and succeed.

What does the enterprise stand to gain through some of the key projects?

DD: One project was to make more documents available for eSignature [via DocuSign]. This has been especially important during the pandemic, when our branches have operated at reduced capacity and members might be reluctant to visit our branches.

But eSignature also improves processes for the credit union. By having documents filled out electronically, employees do not need to manually enter data. They can review documents quicker and respond to members faster, improving the member experience.

Additionally, we can make changes without having to go through the printing process, which is oftentimes simply a waste of paper. Electronic documents are secure, cannot get lost in the mail, and can be easily stored in a single folder on a member’s computer.

All in all, electronic documents speed up the process. We get the document to the member quickly so they, in turn, can submit it quickly, and we can complete their loan or other matter much faster. 

9 Documents Designated For E-Signing

MSUFCU has implemented or is in the process of implementing nine types of documents for e-signature functionality. They are:

  • W-8BEN Form.
  • Courtesy Pay For Debit.
  • Beneficiary Designation.
  • Visa Card Dispute Letter.
  • Disclosure Statement For Personal Student Loan.
  • Multi-Featured Loan Agreement.
  • Loan Extension Forms.
  • Unauthorized Transactions.
  • W-9.

What challenges did you have to overcome by taking this on?

DD: We identified many great ideas and of course wished we could implement all of them immediately. However, resources are limited and we want to celebrate the completed projects and recognize those who suggested and implemented the solutions.

Hearing and acting on feedback from our employees and members is a vital part of our business model. This project has given us the opportunity to receive suggestions that will truly impact the credit union.

Finally, what advice do you have for credit unions considering this kind of endeavor?

DD: First, create a small team and seek input from everyone in the organization. Don’t be afraid if your credit union’s list is long. Prioritize the projects to determine where to start, and start with one project.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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