In an earlier post we took a cursory look at five key areas where credit unions need to focus attention and energy to improve their performance. This post kicks off a five-part series where we will take a deeper look at each of these areas and provide some simple action steps to get the conversation and the action underway.
Efficiency is job one for credit unions in the current economic climate. Finding ways to do more with less, reducing expenses without compromising service, and implementing systems that ensure consistency are at the heart of discussions happening in credit unions across the spectrum.
If you’re serious about making an effort to improve efficiency, here are three things you must consider:
1. Improving Processes
Small changes in the way you do things can yield huge pay-offs. Over time some gaps have probably crept into your processes, and some of the processes defined in the past would not be defined the same way now. Review all of your processes with an eye on making them more efficient and more consistent throughout your credit union.
The simple act of putting your processes in writing and reviewing them will quickly reveal opportunities to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Remember: Your process improvement effort will take time and energy, but taking time to document and improve today will pay off tomorrow!
2. Measuring Outcomes
There is a saying: if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. The question to ask throughout business is how well are you measuring outcomes? If you want to reveal and correct the inefficiencies, you need to define the outcomes you are seeking and find ways to measure them on a day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month basis.
The issue here is defining what the desired outcome looks like and finding ways to measure its achievement. There are things that can be measured… finding things that can be tracked so that people know how well they are doing will go a long way toward improving efficiency as your team becomes more focused on doing the things that matter.
3. Outsourcing Support
Credit unions outsource all the time with the software support and tools they use to deliver their services. But every function that you now do in-house should be evaluated and the potential for outsourcing it considered. Things like marketing, human resources, tech support, call center services, project management, and so forth are all possible candidates. For some credit unions outsourcing or sharing top leadership positions with other credit unions is even a possibility.
The point here is that there are new opportunities available for getting things done that do not require you to make the investment in people and departments. The key to your becoming as efficient as possible may well lie in finding ways to hire the things that you need from companies and individuals. And while there are other things to be considered in your decision besides costs, the very act of evaluating the alternatives will improve your perspective and lead you to do things better, even if you opt to keep doing them in-house.
Convene you leadership/management team and discuss the potential for improving efficiency within your credit union. Use the three items above as a starting point and define an action plan that allows you to get started on this important task. Don’t let the enormity of the effort overwhelm… look for small steps that can be taken quickly and easily, the fast results will drive the effort forward and help you keep the effort on track!
Michael Hudson, Ph.D., founder of CreditUnionStrategy.com, has been a credit union member since he was three months old). He facilitates strategic planning processes, leadership retreats, and culture building experiences for credit unions across America. Learn more at www.CreditUnionStrategy.com or connect at www.Facebook.com/CreditUnionStrategy or www.Twitter.com/CUStrategy