Does your credit union's intranet go beyond the traditional static approach and
allow employees to easily search and access company wide information? A good check
is whether your credit union has a dynamic, interactive intranet known as a corporate
portal. A successful corporate portal should become a dynamic knowledge management
tool that allows organizations to create and share value between their employees,
departments and branches.
Several credit unions across the country have been implementing knowledge management
intranet solutions. State Employees Credit Union in Lansing, MI, ($650m) has
become one of the intranet forerunners after it decided its self-built intranet
would not meet its functional needs in 2003.
"We had a static intranet site that required the funneling of information
through certain managers," said Marcia Soderberg, vice president of planning
and communication at State Employees. "The corporate portal was much more
flexible to fit our needs and it created a communication stream between employees."
Rather than have the IT department manage the technology, these applications
allow each department to control its content.
There are several core functions used routinely by staff of State Employees'
corporate portal. They include:
- Updating all staff on current loan rates
- Current promotions
- Sales tips
- Procedures such as how to open a new account
- Cross-selling opportunities
- Alerts for cell phone or instant messaging
- Frequently asked questions by members
- Summary and detailed product information
State Employees decided to create a corporate initiative called "My Credit
Union" to more effectively share all types of information over the intranet.
It has public pages that include information such as human resource documents,
brand strategies for products, timetables for projects, key personnel listings
and internal surveys. The continually changing content and always up-to-date
information solely accessible via the intranet keeps employees' interested.
The intranet initiative has become so successful among staff that the credit
union is in the process of eliminating the paper version of several documents
currently available on the intranet.
The corporate portal can also help the member service staff better meet member
needs on the job. Prior to its implementation, the staff at State Employees
did not always know where to find up-to-date information such as product rates.
"You either don't help the member or you may confidently give incorrect
information to the member," said Marcia Soderberg.
Many credit unions will find the corporate portal most relevant to knowledge
management for the training of new employees. As lower-level employee turnover
is a problem for credit unions, the corporate portal is now the place where
new employees can turn to access more information versus going through training
that focuses on retaining information. State Employees decided to involve several
staff who interact directly with members in the development and selection of
the intranet product to create excitement about its capabilities to better serve
the member. Employees are more willing to incorporate the knowledge management
solution into their daily work if they can see the tangible benefit before implementation.
The intranet is an evolving technology that will only improve and serve as
a key component of how credit unions will present themselves to the public.
For example, it can make a credit union more efficient by having critical information
available to complete a sale, increase members' awareness of financial services
and portray a consistent message through employee interaction with members.