Efficiencies: Tech Partnership Helps Pima FCU
Pima FCU, a $382.9 million credit union based in Tucson, Ariz., could have spent an unnecessary $160,000 on new cash-dispensing and recycling machines this year. But thanks to the reporting and analytics tools in the CFM S4 cash flow management solution from Chandler, Ariz.-based vendor Cash Flow Management Inc. and its integration with the Episys core processing system, Pima FCU leaders discovered only two new machines were needed–not the six as originally planned–saving them tens of thousands of dollars.
This is a significant example of the return on investment Pima FCU has seen as a result of the integrated solution, explained Gary Angeles, the credit union’s chief operations officer. Coupled together, CFM S4 and the cash automation module within the Episys core system from Symitar, a division of the San Diego-based Jack Henry & Associates, allow credit unions to seamlessly manage their cash transactions and track all communication between Episys, CFM S4 and their cash dispensers and recyclers in real time.
Angeles said Pima FCU used CFM S4 as a stand-alone product for quite some time, but in October 2011, the credit union moved from a different core system to Episys, allowing it to reap the benefits of the Episys-CFM partnership, which began in February 2011. Around 40 credit unions are now using the same enterprise system, said Nathan Moore, director of technology and software development for CFM.
The software’s reporting and analytics tools allow credit unions to collect data in three key areas: cash dispenser and recycler operations (to determine whether or not the machines are being used properly), machine maintenance (to learn in advance when machines need to be replaced or repaired) and cash flow analysis (to find out how much cash is being used on specific days), explained Moore.
In Pima FCU’s case, the analytics tools helped the credit union discover that while four of the six machines it intended to replace worked properly, the employees who worked on them needed additional training, Angeles said.
That discovery was invaluable, Angeles said. “We had planned to replace six devices, but we had no real data behind it. After we added the software, we saw that the devices weren’t really the problem. It gave us a truer picture of what was going on.”
The software also allowed Pima FCU to reorganize their devices for optimal efficiency. In one branch, two devices were being used, but the credit union learned that just one was necessary. It now plans to redeploy the second device to another branch.
Angeles also noted that the Episys conversion has helped speed up the work process for tellers. When the credit union used CFM S4 as a stand-alone product, tellers had to manually enter cash transaction information into their core system; the integrated software has eliminated that additional accounting step.
Another major benefit of the CFM S4-Episys Cash Automation module solution is that it can be used with cash dispensers and recyclers produced by any manufacturer, emphasized Moore and Larry Phillips, project manager for Symitar.
“The system is agnostic, so it’s not manufacturer-driven,” Moore said. “Our clients can choose from the marketplace, and that causes the manufacturers to become more competitive.”
Phillips said the software helps credit unions discover how much cash is being used on certain days of the week–at a machine level, branch level and enterprise level–and produces accurate, decision-influencing data for chief financial officers.
“Liquid currency isn’t something that financial institutions like to have around, and when they do, they want to know how to best manage it,” Phillips said. “The software tells you how much cash is being used in terms of volume. For example, how many $20 bills are being used, and how much cash is being used on Fridays.”
The ultimate goal for credit unions is to become cash neutral, Moore noted. At cash neutral branches, employees always have the perfect amount of cash on hand and do not need to order new cash or store unneeded cash. But just cutting down on the amount of cash that credit unions transport in and out of branches can lead to cost savings, he said.
A streamlined cash flow system can also lead to an improved level of service for members, Moore, Angeles and Phillips agreed.
“When tellers have more time to engage with members, that can mean just saying hello and having a chat, or it can mean taking the opportunity to cross-sell other products,” Phillips said.
Phillips added that approximately 10% of the Episys client base is on CFM S4 and that adoption among credit unions is picking up speed.
Now that Pima FCU has determined its plan to replace two devices and redeploy a third, the credit union is looking ahead to how it will benefit from the software in the future, Angeles said.
“I’m looking forward to being able to use the analytics tools even more once our fleet is in place,” Angeles said. “It’s a good idea to do an analysis once in a while to make sure your machines are deployed correctly and in the right places.”