To buy or build: Choosing the best path for digital transformation within the credit union
Modern, cloud-based digital technology is a must-have for credit unions seeking to enhance the member experience, improve operational effectiveness, streamline internal communications and allow access to data across the institution.
For years, the only option was to develop such technology in-house. While this approach offers some benefits, such as greater control over implementation and customizations, there are a host of hidden costs.
The good news is that credit unions now have a second option: the ability to buy technology and implement it quickly, cost effectively and more efficiently than they could on their own. By taking a “buy” approach, credit unions can go to market with new technology quickly, typically within 12 months.
While this strategy can save time, money and resources, it isn’t as simple as hitting a “buy now” button. How your credit union implements its buy strategy is critical to ensuring you make the most of your investment and achieve your goals within the timeframes and budgets allotted to the project. This seven-step road map can help:
Plan First, Act Second: Begin by establishing a strategic plan that clearly outlines exactly what you wish to achieve from your transformation project. This plan should include a clear set of goals, including a concrete vision of how internal operations and the customer experience will change in relation to the current state.
Address Low-Hanging Fruit First: To create positive momentum and enthusiasm throughout, begin your journey by implementing a micro-transformation strategy, in which you begin by addressing smaller projects that are low complexity and relatively easy to implement, but offer significant, immediate value to the institution. Credit unions have seen success with implementing a deposit account opening feature initially before leaning into a total digital transformation.
Don’t Stop There: Once you address the low-hanging fruit, make a commitment to a roadmap based on implementing iterative functionality over time. This so-called “rolling thunder” approach toward continuous evolution is the best way to keep your team engaged and enthusiastic, address your members’ needs and stay competitive over the long term.
Analyze Your Existing Processes: This step is crucial, but often overlooked during the pre-implementation stage. The deployment of new technology offers a rare opportunity to review all your existing processes and procedures and decide whether they are the most efficient way to get the job done.
Select the Right Vendor: Next, it is time to address the market and consider which provider offers the best solution to meet your specific technology and operational needs. To begin, ask yourself which platform will achieve your desired outcomes most effectively, efficiently and quickly.
Design, Build, Implement: Once you’ve selected your technology vendor, they will work with you to design and configure the solution to best meet your unique needs. It’s advisable to avoid over-customizing the system and aim to stick with roughly 90% of the standard solution as offered out of the box. This is because well-designed systems are already pre-configured to meet the needs of most institutions in the most efficient way, based on experience gathered from hundreds of previous implementation projects.
Train and Communicate: Lastly, make sure your team is fully prepared to work with the system prior to go-live. Ensure you have a comprehensive communication and training plan that is developed and runs concurrently to the implementation. Many FIs make the mistake of waiting until the last minute to address training needs, and slap together a training and development plan for employees as an afterthought. If you want to ensure a smooth rollout, and full buy-in from your front-end users, make sure everyone is onboard and raring to go before the big day.
Changes in financial services are accelerating, and member expectations have changed. Credit unions must pursue digital transformation to meet the evolving needs of the market while improving the efficiency of their internal processes.
The choice has long been between building technology solutions in-house or outsourcing the development to third party partners. Today, in most cases, it’s no contest. When comparing critical factors like speed to market, ROI, the ability to hire specialized skillsets and ongoing software maintenance, the buy side is overwhelmingly the ideal choice for nearly all credit unions.
By partnering with a best-in-breed strategic vendor, you will benefit from their expertise and experience, allowing you to configure the solution to your unique needs and objectives, while leveraging leading practices developed over dozens of implementation projects.