- Lake Trust Credit Union in Michigan has been automating branch data reporting since 2018; in Ohio, Directions Credit Union plans to start this quarter.
- Branch-level reporting offers granular member insights institutions can use to better target sales and service.
Financial institutions generate billions of data points every year, and every FI must decide for itself whether and how deep to dive into that digital trove to tease out insights about branching, products, services, customers, and more.
Credit unions are no different.
Directions Credit Union ($1.2B, Toledo, OH) and Lake Trust Credit Union ($2.6B, Brighton, MI) look to digital dashboards and scorecards to uncover actionable insights decision-makers can use in real-time. The two credit unions, however, are in very different stages of that journey.
Lake Trust began using automation tools five years ago and has generated more than 500 reports since then. It has automated and still consistently uses approximately 80 of them to track activity in all 22 branches and the contact center, says Theresa Dubiel, the southeast Michigan credit union’s senior vice president for member experience and business development.
Approximately 70 miles to the south, Toledo-based Directions plans to go live in the first quarter of 2023 with its own automated dashboards, a project that began last year to provide front-line staff the ability to better understand the members they were serving face-to-face in the branches.
“By providing more timely feedback and results, the staff can better understand the impact they have on the members, whether they’re being effective, and what opportunities they may have for service or sales,” says Dan Kubacki, the cooperative’s vice president for strategic insights, data science, and engineering. “Along the way, we realized this tool would be helpful in reinforcing the service-profit chain we’re focusing on in our staff engagement and coaching initiatives.”
Go Big And Be Specific, Consistent, And Timely
Lake Trust branch managers have been using scorecards for more than 10 years and migrated them to Power BI presentation tools in 2018.
“We needed access to consistent, timely data, and we needed to free up time for the branch managers doing that reporting,” says Kara Stuewe, executive vice president of accounting, finance, and corporate services at Lake Trust.
Dubiel, the SVP, says managers use the scorecards to track branch targets that align with the credit union’s organizational scorecard.
“Scorecard metrics are reviewed and updated annually with updates focused on aligning to organizational goals,” Dubiel says. “The data is provided in near real-time, so the branch is able to track performance to targets from the previous day’s performance to targets. We also annually update each location’s targets.”
Branch dashboard metrics include new members, new accounts, referrals, transactions, and loans with debt protection, giving managers the ability to compare branch performance on the individual metrics and overall.
“We purposefully pick the dashboard measures that align most closely to the Lake Trust scorecard,” says Dubiel, the SVP for member experience. “We make it useful. We don’t want to have an overload of metrics. We want the dashboards to be laser-focused.”
That includes ensuring the users understand “measure definitions,” Dubiel says, which means they know what is being measured for each metric, how it’s assigned to each branch, and how often the data is updated.
At Directions, MVPS — an acronym for Mission, Vision, Process, and Strategy — is of utmost importance. So is specificity.
“We thought developing something with a wider audience that was multipurpose was going to be the right approach,” Kubacki says. Instead, we have found the better approach is a narrow focus for each specific audience. Finding a way to serve multiple audiences with various levels of detail proved to be either too generalized or have too many components to maintain usability.”
The VP says Directions also has learned it’s preferable to launch the minimum viable product and obtain feedback for subsequent iterations.
“We learned smaller-scale releases didn’t provide enough momentum to build adoption and wide-scale usage,” he says.
Dashboards Light Up The Intersection Of People And Tools
Lake Trust formed a business intelligence team in 2018. A small team of stakeholders from across the enterprise chose Power BI visualization software because of its alignment with other Microsoft platforms, says Shubhangi Pararha, the credit union’s business intelligence manager. Although it was not the most robust offering of its kind on the market, the platform continues to improve.
“Enhancements have been made and continue to be made to Power BI,” Pararha says. “We are satisfied with this visualization tool.”
The dashboards are available on the Power BI app and accessible to anyone in the organization through their laptop computer or smart phone. Mangers and assistant branch managers use the dashboards regularly to share current performance with their teams, Pararha adds.
Meanwhile, Kubacki at Directions says his shop has conducted testing with various levels of the member experience team and has shared prototypes with a small sample of branch managers.
“This helped us focus on what data suited which audience and at what granularity,” he says.
That process has created a variety of dashboards using multiple software tools from a Trellance m360 data warehouse that can provide data as recent as the previous day, the Directions vice president says, although the credit union has yet to build anything for the front lines that’s used that frequently.
“Specific elements had been developed in Excel and Tableau and from there incorporated into Alteryx Flows to generate various reports, charts, and dashboards,” Kubacki says. “Oftentimes, the visual presentation is created in draft form and then a workflow created to automate it and incorporate it into other tools to create efficiency.”
Best Practices Captured As They Emerge
So far, Lake Trust has used its BI to make decisions about product pricing and branch locations; it also has gained insights that can help it shift tactics, programs, and host conversations with the team, executives there say.
Beyond branch data, other areas of the credit union use the dashboards to track complex data such as member demographics, loan quality, delinquency, IT service levels and help desk tickets, ATM and video teller transactions, staffing levels, turnover, and even staff volunteer hours.
“The board of directors receives the organization scorecard dashboard quarterly, and several monthly board reports are supported by Power BI dashboards,” Stuewe says.
CU QUICK FACTS
Directions Credit Union
DATA AS OF 12.31.22
HQ: Toledo, OH
NET WORTH: 8.9%
Lake Trust advises credit unions on this type of data-diving journey to start by creating and supporting a strong, talented central team for maintaining the dashboard inventory, usage, and data quality. Then, decentralize development by allowing other departments to create dashboards.
Directions, meanwhile, has learned the importance of data governance at a granular level, Kubacki says.
“Namely, things like accurately assigning members, revenue, and expense to the proper places,” he says. “As discussions continue, we uncover different opinions about which aspects of the member relationship belong to which branches and to what extent. We also seek to identify if each branch may have relative strengths when compared to others and if that’s a training opportunity or a strategic strength to wield.”
The Source Of Digital Truth
Both Lake Trust and Directions say the use of data analytics is a continual learning process.
CU QUICK FACTS
Lake Trust Credit Union
DATA AS OF 06.30.22
HQ: Brighton, MI
“This has been a great and practical crash course in data governance for us,” Kubacki says. “It uncovered different understandings of metrics throughout the organization and encouraged us to build bridges between each of those so each department didn’t have their own version of a metric.”
He adds that creating alignment across metrics has facilitated discussions about strategy while encouraging his credit union to look at where different pieces of data reside and create strategies for making them more readily available.
As for Lake Trust, it plans to keep on keeping on.
“We see continuing to build on what we have established,” says Stuewe, the EVP at the Michigan cooperative. “There are business units that already have Power BI expertise, and we’re working to expand this skillset into other needed areas. Working with data to ensure it is maintained as a source of truth is a constant job.”
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