Faster service and improved productivity can be tremendous competitive
advantages. So when Union Square Federal Credit Union ($174 million,
26,000 members, Sheppard AFB, TX) recognized an opportunity to achieve
both by moving to a Windows-based environment, the credit union
jumped at the chance.
''With access to our Intranet, e-mail, member statements, and
other applications, we felt our staff could work more efficiently
and serve members better,' says Joe Mannion, Network Administrator.
The only question: How to make the move cost-effectively? By capitalizing
on the thin client/server environment of its core system supplier,
USERS, Union Square took a smart approach that yielded significant
Opening the Door
A major element of the credit union's move to a Windows environment
was the implementation of USERS' Navigator solutions, designed to
improve service and productivity through a familiar browser interface.
DataSafe® Navigator's thin client/server design means the software
can reside on a central server, instead of individual workstations.
And that design opened the door to an attractive option: to consider
replacing the credit union's dumb terminals with thin client devices,
instead of more costly PCs.
Mannion performed a cost-benefit analysis comparing PCs to the
increasingly popular thin clients - small-footprint devices with
no hard drives or other ''moving parts'' prone to failure.
What he discovered was the opportunity to save 50% on hardware by
choosing thin clients - without sacrificing performance or functionality.
With almost 100 workstations involved, that meant nearly $70,000
in avoided costs for hardware alone.
Launched in November of 2000, Union Square's computing environment
now consists of Neoware thin devices on the desktops of tellers,
financial service reps and other front-line staff (with a few PCs
left for end users running demanding applications requiring a hard
drive). The workstations are connected to servers that run USERS'
Teller and Lending Navigator solutions, along with Microsoft Terminal
Services and Citrix Metaframe technologies.
Better All Around
Beyond the hardware savings, the thin client/server environment
resulted in other tangible benefits:
- Reduced labor. ''We change or upgrade some piece
of software almost every week here,'' Mannion says. ''Instead
of having to visit each branch and each workstation, I can log
onto the server and give access to new software to anyone who
needs it, all at the same time.'' End users gain access to
new features faster, while the credit union saves on labor.
- Lower software licensing fees. For some applications
- like Microsoft Office - Union Square was able to reduce its
license fees because the applications are now installed on one
server instead of many workstations.
- Reduced risk of data loss. ''If you use PCs and your
staff doesn't back up regularly - which they rarely do - you'll
lose data when the PC crashes,'' Mannion says. But in the
thin client/server environment, the data is saved on a central
file server that's backed up nightly.
- Improved security. By limiting the point of entry for
new software to a single contact - the server - Union Square reduces
security risks. ''Our staff can't bring in a file from home
and introduce a virus into the network,'' Mannion says. ''It's
a much more secure environment.''
- Smaller footprint. On the teller line, where space is
at a premium, the thin clients are especially welcome. The Neoware
units can lie flat on the counter with the monitor on top, taking
up no more space than the monitor itself.
As for the staff's response, Mannion says they're finding the thin
clients can do everything they need - and typically faster than
before. ''Our existing staff became comfortable with the new
hardware and the Navigator software pretty quickly,'' he notes.
''And new hires jump right in, because it's an environment they
find very familiar and intuitive.''
For more information about USERS' technology solutions for credit
unions, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 1-800-523-7282.