Guest Opinion: In Data Management, Seeing Is Believing
As a turbulent 2011 came to end and we plan for 2012, credit unions still face a great deal of uncertainty in the financial marketplace.
Although the Great Recession may have ended, many consumers believe we may yet be headed for a double-dip recession. As a result, consumers are still being extremely cautious with their finances. That fact, coupled with continuing increases in regulation and consolidation, has made it critical for credit unions to adopt sustainable growth strategies that are measurable and adaptable as we look ahead to 2012.
Recently, the groundswell “Move your Money” also reflected the need for credit unions to be agile in order to cash in from such unprecedented campaigns.
Growth strategies require teams to be focused and informed so that decisions and changes can be made faster than ever. They need to be able to actively track performance and see the impact of their efforts. They need a visual report card that keeps them all on the same page and instantly reveals their progress towards achieving the goals of the credit union.
As you plan for 2012, you need to consider the tools you need to have at your disposal that will make your teams highly dynamic because the ability to respond to change will continue to be key.
Ironically, credit unions are better positioned than ever before to capture market share. Fee changes are driving consumers away from banks in droves but credit unions have to be able to capitalize on that influx of potential members.
For many of the credit unions with whom we work, this has meant a heavy strategic emphasis on prototyping new products and services. For others, it has meant a return to the basics of providing high quality member service. In all cases, however, it has created a serious need for reliable, up-to-date metrics that are easily understood by executives and board members.
Visual data management is the key to bringing this information to the fingertips of decision makers. A single page dedicated to showing the progress of your credit union’s strategic initiatives can be very effective for quickly determining strategic direction. Visual representation makes incredibly complex strategies easy to understand and, more importantly, easy to evaluate.
Dashboards and graphic data displays have always been valuable to strategic planning for credit union boards and managers, but in the modern business environment they have become integral to tracking and adapting your strategy.
Changes in the business landscape occur rapidly, and credit unions have to be capable of responding with equal speed. We now see credit unions engaging in more innovation than at any time in recent history – whether it is in the form of mobile platforms, branch design or organizational structure. And, we see credit union’s key performance indicators, set up as a dashboard, being used to maintain a constant awareness of the relative success of that innovation. That means increased agility across the credit union and more opportunities to find the product and service mix that fits your member base.
Credit unions have more data available to them than ever before. We can and do track everything from individual member accounts to member lending ratios by branch or region. What that means, however, is that boards expect more data to make decisions and we should do everything we can to make that data digestible.
In almost every planning session looking ahead to 2012, we have heard board members and executives dive deeply into remarkably complex data as they weigh strategic options. We believe that increased understanding of those complex numbers and trends help executives and boards make better decisions in the context of the broader strategic vision.
Jackson Hataway is an associate consultant with Strategic Arts and Sciences, Strategic Planners for Credit Unions.
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