How Analytics Can Drive Efficiency And Innovation

The Business Analytics Innovation Team at Member One FCU tasks six employees with digging into data to find areas of opportunity.

In addition to member data, some credit unions are using broader business analytics to analyze internal processes and policies with the goal of improving efficiency and encouraging innovation.

Member One Federal Credit Union ($778.3M, Roanoke, VA) is one such institution. Here, Jeff Wieczorek, chief information officer, and Jason Specht, business analytics innovation team manager, offer their thoughts on the credit union’s new Business Analytics Innovation Team or BAIT for short. Member One created BAIT to move the credit union toward a more efficient and innovative way of doing business, and they share how others can do the same.

How did the idea to create a Business Analytics Innovation Team (BAIT) surface?

Jeff Wieczorek, CIO, Member One FCU

Jeff Wieczorek: Jason and I had the idea to create a process improvement team. We identified key individuals who had exceptional knowledge of each of our functional areas, and as we came across operational hurdles, the team met to find a solution. This was particularly useful as we prepared for a core conversion, but all of these individuals had full-time jobs already.

Read more about Member One’s process improvement team in How To Stop Wasting And Start Saving.


Member One FCU
Data as of 03.31.16

  • HQ: Roanoke, VA
  • Assets: $778.3
  • Members: 95,209
  • Branches: 13
  • 12-MO Share Growth: 10.17%
  • 12-MO Loan Growth: 10.30%
  • ROA: 0.72

Post-conversion, we found there was a need to create a full-time team to fulfill new programming needs and continue to focus on process improvement and innovation. Jason came out of the process improvement group to lead BAIT, and he, along with his team, reaches out to various subject matter experts to provide input and insights.

What is the primary focus of BAIT and where does it fall within the organization?

Jason Specht: BAIT’s primary role is to advance the credit union. We analyze new technologies and innovations as well as test and launch new solutions we believe will move the organization from its current state to an improved state. We also work to enhance existing processes throughout the credit union.

Jason Specht, Business Analytics and Innovation Manager, Member One FCU

Our team falls under the IT umbrella, and as the manager, I work closely with the vice president of information systems and director of operations. All three of us report to Jeff, who is the credit union’s chief information officer.

In addition to BAIT, there is a more traditional data analytics position within the credit union, and we work closely with one another. This position sits in the marketing area and manages our data warehouse and systems such as Raddon, which we use for segmentation and targeted marketing. However, there are areas of overlap as our programmers develop new reports from our core.

Can you describe the members of BAIT and their roles?

JS: The team has grown from one person when we launched a year ago to six team members today. The team is made up of two Business Analytics Innovators, or programmers; an E-services Program Administrator, who is responsible for online banking and other member-facing electronic platforms; a Business Analyst, who helps manage our case load with various vendors and facilitates projects; a Lending Systems Administrator, who is responsible for all lending apps and software; and myself, the Business Analytics Innovation Team Manager.

BAIT’s primary role is to advance the credit union. We analyze new technologies and innovations as well as test and launch new solutions we believe will move the organization from its current state to an improved state.

What successes can you share?

JS: We enhanced our denied loan application process and have saved a substantial amount of time. Prior to BAIT and our core conversion, we had a labor intensive process that included staff members manually filling out a PDF form for each denied loan, filling out a template for a letter and envelope, printing them, and arranging for an outside mail service to pick up the materials.

Since creating BAIT and upgrading our core system and lending apps, we’ve completely automated this process. What used to take an average of 15-20 hours per week now takes approximately five minutes. The information is automatically pulled from different applications and servers and transmitted via secure FTP to the mail house. This is just one example of the type of projects our team is working on.

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How does the team work with other areas within the credit union?

JW: We encourage ideas and outside knowledge when we bring in new hires, and Jason has blackboards all over the campus where anyone can write down ideas. Employees can do this anonymously or submit a ticket via the help desk.

JS: Encouraging ideas from throughout the credit union has helped BAIT become successful. We have so much coming in, we need to carefully manage the idea process. We have a digital tracking system and use Kanban boards to help us visualize the projects and set limits based on our abilities. For example, no one can effectively manage 20 projects at once, so we might identify two to three priority projects and move others to the pending category.

What advice do you have for credit unions on how to best structure business analytics?

JW: A lot of it starts with your culture and making sure there is creative and innovative thinking among all of the departments. We might have a specific team here, but this is an enterprisewide initiative to create a more efficient and innovative credit union. You can try the most innovative idea in the world, but if no one is open to changing the way they are doing things, then it won’t be successful. In order to achieve the best ROI, you need everyone contributing ideas and seeing the results.

JS: Beyond the cultural piece, you also need to invest resources. Simply telling everyone to be innovative or look for efficiency isn’t the same as having an individual or team with a specified budget responsible for it.

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