4 Ways To Maximize Technology On A Minimized Budget

Don’t let institution size hold back your delivery channel capabilities.


For credit unions with the right technology mentality, being small isn’t a limitation - it’s a challenge and an opportunity to be more nimble than larger peers.

“You might think, what kind of resources do you have in a $50 million credit union?” said Pierre Cardenas, senior consultant with CU Lending Advice, during the 2012 Credit Union Association of New Mexico’s (CUANM) Call Center Conference in Las Vegas recently. But, as he further explained, small institutions can be more technologically capable than they think.

Here are four considerations to keep in mind.

1. Don’t Buy What You Can Borrow

Thomas Wright, editor and publisher of the Credit Union tech-talk newsletter, says that small credit unions should make use of free and low-cost channel services including Kunnect, a cloud-based call center provider and Chatwing, a free real-time chat service - to mitigate costs. Such options will free up funds for more demanding or complex projects the credit union wouldn’t normally be able to budget for.

2. Develop Support Strategies Before Spending The Money

Make sure the technology you do pay for has the culture in place to maximize its impact. For example, bumping up tech expertise in the list of new hire considerations, even for non-IT related roles,  will yield real dividends in decreased vendor reliance later on.

Smaller credit unions also should carefully define expectations for how new technology could and should fit within the organization.

“Too often, people buy technology and force it to comply with their processes rather than changing their processes to fit the technology,” says Cardenas.

This not only adds to the cost, but also waters down the effectiveness of the service.

3. Help Members To Appreciate

Once you adopt a new technology, don’t forget to teach members how to use it.

“Once a consumer does something and finds it easy, they never go back to doing it the same way as before,” Cardenas says.

Employee-assisted walkthroughs and other onboarding efforts almost guarantee a positive first impression. But members left to fend for themselves risk making mistakes that could spoil them on the technology forever.

4. Earn Money From Your Investment

Small credit unions especially need to glean maximum benefit from their technology spendin, and few investments are as easy to validate as loan processing through remote channels. Applications from the internet average of $7 to $9 to process, versus $45 to $75 in the call center or potentially hundreds of dollars in face-to-face scenarios, says Cardenas. This is the kind of savings that no credit union can afford to leave on the sidelines.


Nov. 7, 2012


  • We've found that NOT being on the leading edge of technology can be beneficial too, so take advantage of other's 'beta-testing' of products, services and technological upgrades. Keeping the member experience at top of mind is also a good plan. Your efficiencies may not result in $$ gained, but in member satisfaction, which brings the $$ in from other areas.
  • great article! It is difficult to keep up with the latest offerings on a small budget.
  • Most of the time it's the simple technology choices that have the greatest impact. Look at what channel is getting the most attention and leverage it with either a purchased solution or develop in-house (if possible). Remember, a proper hire can elevate your technology just as good as buying a COTS solution.