VANCOUVER, B.C. – North Shore Credit Union has been on a roll, using technology’s tools to help win an increasing share of its memberships’ wallet. And now the big CU is launching a new platform to better tie its robust internal processes together. North Shore is deploying an enterprise content management (ECM) solution that will streamline the CU’s internal business processes, such as new account openings and loan applications, while serving as a centralized, secure center for all associated business content. The ECM platform is from FileNet Corp. of Costa Mesa, Calif., a provider of process management tools to more than 4,000 customers worldwide, including 31 credit unions. Implementing the system at North Shore was Vancouver’s Yaletown Technology Group, a high-tech consultancy whose products and solutions are in place at five credit unions and more than 40 Fortune 100 companies. “This implementation will enable faster information exchange among NSCU staff and credit union members,” says Adam Wilkins, vice president of business development for Yaletown Technology Group. “Shortening business processes and providing faster access to content ultimately results in the credit union becoming more responsive.” Keying on responsive member service, and providing a growing and wide range of services and products, has helped drive North Shore from $600 million (Canadian) in assets in 2000 to more than $1.5 billion as of June 2004, while membership grew only from 37,138 to 40,703 in the same period. And for that, technology is just a tool, including business intelligence tools such as the ECM platform from FileNet. .”Business intelligence is a business issue, not an IT strategy,” says Fred Cook, North Shore’s chief information officer. “We are very much a CRM-centered company, where our banking system is really a tactical product engine. We look at CRM as one of our three core systems, along with our ECM solution, which is one of the processes integrating that.” Indeed, the Pivotal CRM system is the “key tool for our use of FileNet,” says Susan Metcalf, development manager at North Shore. The CU uses a lot of other processes, too, which the FileNet software helps integrate. That includes a Sanchez core banking system from DataWest, an HTI loan origination solution and a Microsoft data warehouse, among other systems. Cook says the ECM solution will help connect the disparate platforms while relieving some of the dependence on North Shore’s CRM system. “We were overusing our CRM,” he says. “It was becoming more of a Clydesdale than a speedy Arabian. Now, we’ll use the Clydesdale part of it, the FileNet piece, to take up the heavy lifting, business processes letting our ECM system help us really do business the way we want to,” the North Shore CIO says. That’s because the FileNet system will do a lot of the coding and other manual entry data work that had been going on behind the member-facing tools of the CRM system. “It will be in the background automating the workflow behind all those human interactions,” says Metcalf, the North Shore development manager. “There really is a lot of work in the background, too, because of the number of systems we have. My group is going to continue to work on system-to-system integration, to get as much as we can going in real-time, to get these processes talking to each other. “It’s an exciting challenge for our staff.” Implementing changes in processes also involves more than simply installing new software and launching it. People issues, the workplace culture, often loom as large as the technical challenges. “I wouldn’t characterize the main issues as technological,” says Martin Skea, director of financial services marketing at FileNet. “The main issues we find are change management, and using all the main-line capabilities the solution offers. Many of our customers focus initially on quick-win projects versus large, complex projects, in order to demonstrate the value of their strategy and to ensure efficient deployment for larger-scale projects.” At North Shore, FileNet is first being used in the lending, trust and mutual funds areas, with more to come later. “Our long-range goal is to automate as many of our business processes as possible,” says Cook, the North Shore CIO. “FileNet’s system will provide us the ability to do this across the entire enterprise.” And while being on the leading edge of technology is not the motivator for North Shore’s software choices, the big Canadian CU now finds itself in effect near to grabbing the brass ring of what’s predicted by some to be the next evolution of banking: straight-through processing. “In our near straight-through processing environment, manual intervention will only be necessary on an exceptions-processing basis, allowing our knowledge workers to spend more time serving our members,” Cook says. And serving them better, the CU’s ECM vendor maintains. Automating new account agreement, credit and trust services functions will reduce origination errors and speed fulfillment, says Skea at FileNet. “By meeting the needs of its members quickly and with fewer errors, NSCU proves its commitment to its values and its responsibility to its members,” he says. It also helps the bottom line. While these kinds of deployments are not cheap – Wilkins at Yaletown says credit unions can expect to spend $50,000 to $1 million, depending on their size – the payback also comes “in areas such as floor space recovery, reduced headcount, increased processing resulting in less effort per transaction, and reduced printing costs, not to mention the gains acquired in the difficult-to-measure compliance and litigation-support areas,” he says. Cook at North Shore says he expects the ECM to enable “us to increase our productivity, so as our business grows, we won’t necessarily grow FTEs, but will grow the ability to take on more work.” That work ideally should help sharpen the focus on what happens at “member touchpoints,” adds Metcalf at North Shore. “We’re going to look to streamline further, to further enhance our staff’s ability to spend time directly with members, with collapsing business processes, utilizing online e-forms and not with filling out and managing paper forms and other administrative functions. “That’s the key. There are huge opportunities across our organization with this.” -

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