By enhancing its home banking system, Advancial Federal Credit Union's IT organization gave members the tools to perform branch transactions online. In this podcast interview, CIO Larry Burwell discusses the specific technologies and steps he took to improve customer satisfaction and internal productivity through an enhanced home banking system.
SPEAKER'S BIOGRAPHY: Burwell is responsible for overseeing Advancial's technology vision to offer customers the tools to perform any business transactions online or at a branch.
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Read the full transcript from this podcast below:
CIO Larry Burwell: Online banking expands credit union's reach
Karen Guglielmo: Hello. My name is Karen Guglielmo the Special Projects Editor for SearchCIO-Midmarket.com. I'd like to welcome you to today's Expert Podcast Interview with Larry Burwell, CIO of Advancial Federal Credit Union. Larry is one of the 2008 Midmarket IT Leadership Award Winners, and today I'll be interviewing Larry to learn more about his IT organization and the innovative things they're doing to use technology to enhance the business. Welcome, Larry.
Larry Burwell: Hello. Thank you, Karen. It's good to be here.
Karen Guglielmo: Great. So, Larry, can you first give us an overview of one of your most innovative projects to date, specifically the iDeposit initiative. What was the business goal? What did the project actually accomplish?
Larry Burwell: Sure. The iDeposit project that we put into place late last year was actually A) an extension of Advancial's business goal to offer a high-tech, high-touch, high-quality service to our members in a convenient location, which is basically through electronic delivery channels. We needed to offer this solution to increase the speed and accuracy, and convenience for our remote deposit users, otherwise known as our members, and to also increase the efficiency of our back office work group that does the deposits for our mail-in deposits and things.
What we did was we incorporated this convenient service into our See You Anywhere, our home banking software, which we developed in-house here. Which allows the members to perform self-service deposits without waiting for mail delivery or have to worry about lost items or stolen items in the mail, or through courier services. The member simply scans the items in, processes them in from our See You Anywhere platform, which then creates a batch for that member.
It comes through to our back office service center where we simply take a look at the item, confirm that the item is a valid item and has been scanned correctly. From that point, we simply post a batch of multiple accounts with multiple deposits, saving us hours of processing time in just a few clicks and just a few seconds of work for our back office group.
Karen Guglielmo: Now, do the members still have to submit the actual paperwork? Or scanning it is all you need?
Larry Burwell: No. Scanning it is all the members have to do. The members scan the items in. Once they perform that we ask them to go ahead and hold on to those items just to make sure that they do get deposited into their account with no exceptions. Once the deposit has taken place, we ask them to go ahead and shred those items to make sure that they're not used for any mischievous purposes.
Also, once the member scans the items, we have them put them into a certain format, which we actually control for the members inside of our home banking platform, which will take the items and put them into the format that we need moving forward to the Federal Reserve Bank and on for other, additional processing. So our back office people don't have to take the time to do that either.
Karen Guglielmo: Now, what's the feedback you're getting from users since this launch?
Larry Burwell: We have had no negative feedback whatsoever. The members love it. It's not taking two or three days for the post office to deliver an item, and we've actually gained additional service and additional wallet share from our members because of this service. Because now they do not have to go to a competitor's branch or a local branch or a local facility of one of our competitors, for somebody who is not near one of our branch locations. So it's been a big hit from our members.
Karen Guglielmo: Great. Now let's talk about the applications. What applications did you use? Were existing applications integrated into this, or did you have to add new applications?
Which include tight integration with our core host data processing system, our imaging systems, and interfaced into our archive systems along with our scanners, and get the items out to the... I'm sorry. The items for capture, we did offer an imaging software that we push out through our See You Anywhere platform that allows the members to adjust, crop, resize, and put the items into an acceptable format for the standards, so they can be utilized through the Federal Reserve system.
Karen Guglielmo: Now, what was the implementation time to get this up and running?
Larry Burwell: The implementation time to get it up and operational was about four months for design and development, and programming. What we run into, though, was when we did our pilot testing our test users put a little bit of a hitch in for us. Because when we put the solution out, they got a little bit confused on uploading images, the orientation of the image, scanning, skew, resolution. Do they put it in color? Do they put it in black and white? They had some questions like that.
So what we did to overcome this issue, we actually created a tutorial along with our marketing department, which is mandatory for all the users to review and accept, kind of like a licensing, if you would, before we approve them for the service. After we implemented the tutorial and made it mandatory, the exceptions related to the imaging issues that we had dropped to less than one percent.
Karen Guglielmo: Wow. That's great. What other obstacles would you say you ran into during the implementation?
Larry Burwell: We actually did not have any other obstacles that we've run into. It was a very intuitive system the way we designed it and built it. We got a lot of feedback up front from users, from our contact center, from our branches, from marketing to make sure that we identified any questions or any room for improvements early on.
So we didn't develop it from a technical standpoint of, "Here's the way an IT person would do a deposit." We actually went out and gathered the input from our users, from the people who interact with our members, who provide this service. We used what they had to tell us to actually go in and input the information in a good, solid, easy to use workflow that was intuitive for the end user, or otherwise our members.
Karen Guglielmo: Yeah, very smart. So now that the customers are obviously happy by this and your project is completed, how have you calculated or demonstrated ROI to the business, and even ROI in terms of money savings, but also in resource savings?
Larry Burwell: Well, the ROI for a service like this, as far as money savings, could be very difficult to measure because we are capturing additional business from members in outlying areas that have little or no access to our branch locations. Therefore, they are now sending their deposits into us and it's giving us an opportunity to capture more business because they're on our website. They're in our home banking system.
We're offering them the opportunity to come in and apply for loans electronically and open accounts electronically now that they may not have been aware of, or may not have already been on our system to notice if it would not have been for this service. The resources in the back office we've saved has allowed us to save a great deal of time in reduced handling of mail, reduced resources required for scanning items for processing these deposits and sending them up to the Federal Reserve Bank.
It's actually increased some of the accuracy of items because members are inputting in the items themselves and dollar amounts. We just go into a confirm so we don't have to run the balance and all that anymore. We can just take a look at it, confirm it and move on. I would say that we have saved ourselves based on the work group feedback that they've had, we've freed them up to do approximately eight to 12 hours of additional work each day by offering this service to our members.
Karen Guglielmo: Wow. Isn't that interesting? You've become more efficient. But yet, you've also brought in more business as a result. So, it's not even like...
Larry Burwell: Yes, that's correct.
Karen Guglielmo: ...you lost business. Actually, I have one final question for you before we wrap things up. What would you say is the next hot technology coming along that you envision incorporating into your data center, say, within the next three years?
Larry Burwell: Well, we've actually got a technology plan that identifies several things, and I would sum this up by saying that the next hottest technology over the next three years is going to be adaptive technology. So, adaptive online servicing, I guess, is how I'd sum it up.
We plan on taking... Over the next three years, our technology plan is looking at incorporating online account opening, lending, CRM systems, fraud prevention and detection systems, cross-sale systems that we have, live stage modeling and relationship modeling technologies that we have in disparate separate systems right now. And combining them all together that we can offer to the member and push out to our branches in an incorporated system.
Suggesting services, which are going to be tailored to each specific member customized relevant to their personal financial needs at the time that we can offer that service and provide that service or that product to them. Then, once this technology is all integrated in together, as I mentioned before, we'll have it available on the web. We'll have it available for our branches.
We'll have it available in our contact center so that when members come in, members will get a consistent delivery for the services that we provide. They'll get a consistent message, and then they will also be able to provide feedback that we can then enter into the system to make the system continuing to advance and to grow, and become more adaptive to the member needs.
Karen Guglielmo: Great. It sounds like you're definitely a model company for customer service, I could easily say. On that note, that does conclude today's podcast. Thank you again to Larry Burwell for speaking with us today and congratulations on an award well-deserved. Thank you everyone for listening, and have a great day.
Larry Burwell: Thank you very much, Karen.
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This was first published in June 2008