Do-it-yourself statement route helps Tampa CU cut costs
TAMPA, Fla. - MacDill Federal Credit Union knew it could save money by going the electronic statement route, and decided it could save even more by creating its own in-house solution. Now, after a little more than a year of planning and testing, the home-grown service will soon be going...
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TAMPA, Fla. – MacDill Federal Credit Union knew it could save money by going the electronic statement route, and decided it could save even more by creating its own in-house solution. Now, after a little more than a year of planning and testing, the home-grown service will soon be going live and is expected to eventually generate savings of about $125,000 a year, at current postal rates. It also was created at a fraction of the tab it would have cost to outsource, says Steven Slawin, assistant vice president of electronic services for the $900 million, 132,000-member CU in Tampa, Fla. The credit union had been spending more than $52,000 a month mailing out paper statements, so the need was clear and the search was on. “We received a number of proposals,” Slawin says. “The standalone, in-house purchased solutions were priced from $65,000 to $100,000, plus annual support and maintenance costs. “The ASP solutions we were presented included set-up fees of $10,000 to $25,000 and recurring monthly costs of 12 cents to over 30 cents per statement.” So they decided to do it themselves. MacDill’s investment: $5,500 for a Dell server (with installation and support) and another $2,098 for software. Slawin says the effort by he and David Haight, MacDill’s assistant vice president of data processing, to sell the system included using their bosses as cyber-guinea pigs. “We essentially spent two days building a `mini’ e-statement system and generating electronic versions of the August statements for members of our management team. We then e-mailed them their statements in electronic format,” Slawin says. “Once those at the top of the organization were convinced that we had the technology and expertise to actually produce a working model, they allowed us to pursue full development,” he says. What they found as they got into it was that they already were doing the “hard part of the electronic statement process, creating the formatted statement data,” Slawin says. “Since a vendor could simply take our flat statement file and overlay it on an electronic version of our statement form, the only other components necessary to bridge the gap from paper to electronic statements were collecting and maintaining the member e-mail addresses and e-mailing the electronic statements.” Slawin says the biggest technical hurdle was ensuring privacy, but that the PDF format they’re using allows encryption and other password protections. “We also didn’t want our members to have to remember a separate password for their electronic statements, therefore we opted to use their home banking password,” he says. “If a member changes that password, their statement password is updated automatically, too.” Right now, the credit union spends an average of 52 cents each to send statements to just under 100,000 members each month. The system is currently being tested with employees, with promotion to members set to begin on Jan. 1 and live deployment on Feb. 1, Slawin says. MacDill’s e-statement solution includes the usual features of such a system: for instance, the ability to electronically attach marketing statements, newsletters, disclosures, surveys and so forth. And oSlawin said the CU decided to pursue an inhouse solution when it found that it could only capture about One somewhat unusual feature of MacDill’s in-house system is the option it gives members to choose between push and pull technology, rather than making the decision for them. In push technology, the statement is e-mailed to the member. In pull, it’s accessed, or pulled off, the Web site after members are notified of its availability by e-mail. “We felt strongly that adopting a single model, choosing exclusively either push or pull, would likely lead to a lower adoption rate among the membership,” Slawin says. “Our employee test group bears that out. Of 80 participants, almost exactly 50% opted for push, and likewise almost exactly 50% opted for pull.” Slawin says that most of the ASP models
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