WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- When everyone pulls the same way, things get done fast.
Just ask Robins Federal Credit Union, where installing branch capture technology through a 16-branch network was expected to take over a year, but instead was wrapped up in just six months.
"It was just one of those things," said Dee Dee Cote, vice president of administration at the $997 million CU. "We thought it would take us much longer to implement in the beginning than it really did."
"We started out scheduling only four branches to do the conversion, but then we realized we were able to push it through much more quickly than everyone anticipated. The reason, really, we were able to do this is because of the way everyone accepted this and got on board and made it happen."
The 128,000-member CU has 327 employees, about 220 of them working in the branches.
While there were some technical challenges, "the real adapting had to take place from our staff," Cote said. "It's a different process now, a different way of doing things, and we made sure they were comfortable with everything as well as realized how much savings it would provide for us."
While it's too early for a lot of hard numbers, the initial results are dramatic. For instance, more than 130,000 paper items were sent to the Federal Reserve in January 2007. In December, that number fell to just over 3,000. Even though Robins FCU is much closer to Atlanta, one of the remaining sites where the Fed is still receiving paper images, that's still a substantial savings in courier costs.
Robins FCU already had been sending electronic images to the Fed from its main office, in fact, and the move to branch imaging was "the natural course for us to investigate," Cote said, after the CU bought ATM machines with imaging capabilities a couple years ago.
That investigation led them up the highway to Atlanta for visits to check out a branch capture project under way at Delta Community CU. There they also found the vendor they eventually chose to provide the technology: Cooperative Services Inc.
"CSI offered competitive rates, little start-up costs and an easy-to-use software package," said Kim Young, Robins FCU's branch services manager.
The vendor trained a handful of Robins FCU staffers, who then did the rest of the installations and subsequent training of branch staff in the new branch capture and batch processing tools they would all soon be using.
Initial technical hiccups occurred but were resolved, including by going with larger Canon CR-180 scanners that lessened problems with paper jams, piggyback items, and image quality.
The first branch went live in June after an eight-week test run, but as time went on the tests shrunk to two weeks and branches were brought on line more quickly than originally expected, the CU said.
The staff's ability to learn other shortcuts and resolve issues as they occurred also were keys to the successful deployment across the branch network.
"Our employees understood that this change was a good thing," said Roy Bibb, vice president of branch services.