Strategic business decisions are either enabled or hampered bythe available technology. Return on Investment is hampered if thetechnology investments that stem from the business decisions arenot aligned. From configuring product and service offerings withthe core system to extending those offerings through theintegration of third-party applications, business strategy isultimately impacted if a technology plan is not a function of thebusiness plan. So how can the technology investments that yourcredit union has made, or is looking to make, improve your creditunion's overall ROI? The key to improving ROI is to align yourtechnology with your strategy and utilize appropriate tools thatwill help your credit union improve its overall performance.Improvements may take the form of reducing costs, increasingrevenues, growing loans and deposits, or increasing the value ofwhat you provide to your members. Regardless of the areas of focus,the ability to rely on a valued, strategic relationship that helpsyou develop and fulfill a vision for the future of your creditunion is paramount to the success of the desired performanceimprovement. This "one-stop/value added" approach is not a newconcept but certainly one whose time has come. If you were to breakdown the areas that comprise an optimally run credit union, youmight look first to see whether your credit union has theappropriate infrastructure to enable the adoption of the righttechnology. The infrastructure should provide for seamlessintegration to the applications necessary to enable "one view" ofyour member. This translates into a continuing effort to movebeyond interfaces to true integration where applications areperforming bi-directional data exchanges with multipleapplications. Disparate systems in today's environment will notprovide the access to information your staff needs in order toservice your members appropriately. The infrastructure also needsto have the ability to adapt to applications outside of the coreand provide tools to easily connect to those products. Ifinvestments have already been made, wouldn't it be nice to connectthat technology to the core and have an integrated, comprehensivesolution for the future? In today's innovative technologyenvironment, it is more than possible, it's here. Lastly, theinfrastructure should offer solutions that can provide your creditunion with a competitive advantage, a differentiation strategy andpromote growth. These solutions might be noninterest income sourcessuch as privilege pay, line-of-credit increases or solicitations,or relationship pricing, and they may be options for loan growth,particularly in the fast growing commercial market, but also inmortgages, used autos, credit card loans and indirect lendingsources. With a solid infrastructure and the flexibility to providethese solutions, the credit union will reap the benefits of theadopted technology much quicker for a lower total cost of ownershipand ROI will be realized much sooner. Opportunities for growthshould also be examined and a focus on member demographics canassist in analyzing whether your credit union is offering the rightproducts and services to the right members, at the right time andin the ways that they want those services delivered to them. Ismarketing effective in what they do or do they need tools that canprovide better information regarding the value of a member and thelikelihood of that member purchasing a particular service when theyneed it? Relationship management and business intelligencesolutions provide staff the tools to easily access memberinformation and empower them to cross sell at appropriateopportunities. Analyzing your loan portfolio will provide insightas to whether the right loan mix is being offered given thedemographics of your market? Analyzing your demographics may alsogive you insight in how to grow deposits in a time when many creditunions are experiencing flat or negative growth. An internal lookat operational efficiencies gained through automation and apossible realignment or reduction of headcount, integration ofsystems, optimizing existing capabilities and resources, andutilizing self-service channels can deliver cost reduction andimproved ROI. Are devices and solutions in place to promoteautomation such as unattended back office processing, automatedloan decisioning, signature pads and real-time archival andretrieval capabilities? Is the integration between applicationstrue and eliminating duplication of effort and re-keying of data,or is your credit union still working with disparate systems? Areyou offering the appropriate self-service channels in the rightlocations to provide the convenience your members need? If yourcredit union is lacking in some of these areas, a measurement ofnet interest margin, net operating expenses and automation mayreveal opportunities for improvement. There are tools availabletoday to address each. Security is always top of mind regardless ofhow ROI is being measured. So another area to scrutinize issecurity and the current measures in place to protect againstcredit union and member loss as this will play an important role inwhether satisfactory ROI is attained sooner rather than later. Isthe institution able to operate on a truly 24x7 basis withappropriate backup systems in place in case of disaster? Do thehigh availability solutions in place provide for physical andlogical data integrity? Are encryption and dual factorauthentication solutions enabled to reduce possible securitybreaches? The right strategic partner is critical to achievingthese objectives. So when considering your options, look for aprovider who has moved their own business model beyond being atechnology product sales organization to one which has embraced anddeveloped the capacity to work with you at a strategic businessservices level.

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