Agile Processes, Doing The Right Thing, Sustainable Strategies

Five can't-miss data points this week on

This week, keys in on the agile method to project management. We find one credit union in Washington state that has spent the last year implementing agile methods and practices to its operations; we also share the efforts Callahan has made to move agile and the lessons learned along the way. In addition, we show how State Employees operating principle of Do the Right Thing says it all.

Here are five can’t-miss data points:

12 Months

Project management at WSECU has taken a sharp turn in the past 12 months. Before the fall of 2018, the credit union would identify a new or improved product or service and, at the onset of each development project, create a strict step-by-step structure for stakeholders to follow. That linear methodology is known as waterfall. There’s a lot to be said for the level of control waterfall offers; however, there are also limits to the approach. So, in the summer of 2018, the credit union made the move to a new style of project management. In addition to allowing for improved production, the transformation to agile was made, in part, to improve the overall member experience.

Read: Iterate, Then Do It Again, For Better Project Management


State Employees’ might be the second largest credit union in the nation, but its localized approach to member service and network of 2,200 direct, in-branch lenders better resembles the way a group of much smaller credit unions would operate. According to Mark Coburn, senior vice president lending development, the cooperative’s simple operating principle of Do the Right Thing says it all. That culture has clearly resonated with the credit union’s growing membership base, which is currently more than 2.4 million. But the credit union stands out in ways beyond its scale. SECU doesn’t participate in indirect lending and it doesn’t price products based on risk factors like credit scores. The cooperative has never offered traditional incentives for its front-line employees and decisions all loans even mortgages in its branches.

Read: How A $40B Institution Treats 2.4M Members


If the many conversations Callahan & Associates has held with industry technologists across 2019 are any indication, credit unions might soon stop chasing waterfall. Waterfall, of course, is a software development methodology. But it’s not the only one, and many credit unions are turning in another direction entirely to meet the demands of a rapidly changing financial services environment. Perhaps your credit union has considered adopting agile. Callahan leaders have discussed the pros and cons of changing to an agile methodology with all manner of clients during our technology roundtables, consulting work, and strategic planning sessions. Additionally, we’ve written several case studies profiling successful credit union adoptions. We’ve learned enough to understand the benefits of an agile approach, which is why Callahan underwent agile training earlier this year with a goal to fully adopt the methodology in 2020.

Read: Don’t Go Chasing Waterfall. Agile Thinking Helps Credit Unions Better Respond To Change.

14 Minutes

Callahan senior vice president Katy Slater recently had the pleasure to (virtually) connect with CUbroadcast’s Mike Lawson to discuss sustainable strategy during a 14-minute interview. For businesses, sustainable strategy requires organizations to be purpose-driven, values-based, and cooperative. Of course, the credit union movement leverages all three of these; however, this doesn’t mean every credit union is automatically fully leveraging sustainable business practices today. It does mean credit unions are on the right road, and perhaps, with an enhanced roadmap, can reach an even better destination tomorrow.

Read: CUbroadcast Highlights Sustainable Business Strategy

$900 Million

Credit unions re-issue credit cards for a variety of reasons, including for fraud, finances, and network conversions. When a credit union must distribute many cards at one time, the mass re-issuance presents operational challenges that require coordinated efforts across the institution to avoid disruption at the member level. Across late 2015 and early 2016, Ventura County Credit Union converted its card network from VISA to MasterCard to add EMV functionality to its credit and debit cards not long after the October 2015 liability shift. The terms of the agreement required the $900 million cooperative to re-issue its plastics across the entire membership base. Here, the credit union’s discusses its experience re-issuing its plastic, including how it tackled the endeavor, how it worked around brand loyalty, and the lessons it learned.

Read: 9 Waves To Make A Mass Re-Issue Manageable

Happy Reading!

September 16, 2019

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