Roundtable to Discuss – Reducing Costs and Recession Proofing Your IT Spending

It was very exciting last week. Last week, on the 8th and the 9th, the ITCUstrategy group and the CUCTO groups met at Apple Federal Credit Union and NIHFCU to discuss the following agenda topics. The discussions were engaging and many of the attendees left with actionable steps for themselves moving forward.

 

Topic/ Agenda

  • Roundtable Discussion Topic – What are local credit union IT Leaders in the area doing in today’s economic environment to help drive costs down or increase value to members?
  • RedZone Presentation – Recession Proof your Credit Union’s IT Spending Using Fixed Cost MSP Programs for IT Plumbing and Day to Day Compliance Needs
  • ITCUStrategy.com – Discuss the May 2009 launch and functionality of the local Forum, Blog, and user Library

 The following are ideas, comments, and views that flowed from the meeting. Enjoy!

 

The following is a composite list of the items that were discussed as a part of Cost Savings Measures that we currently underway and planned for many of the attendees.

 

  • On a case by case basis credit lines are being revoked by attendees for those members demonstrating higher than acceptable risk.
  • Some have used this opportunity to eliminate risky members as an opportunity to reach out to members versus the obvious initial approach of just cancelling the card and terminating the member. In one case a family member offered to use their cash as collateral to get the other family member caught up thus averting a negative situation for the CU and the family member with the obligation.
  • Hiring freezes are in place and if an employee leaves they are not being replaced.
  • There is a move toward more of a web based approach to member service versus brick and mortar.
  • Modifying member behavior is the goal to lighten and reducing lobby traffic which helps with labor savings.
  • There is an increasing interest in ‘tellerless’ and remote kiosk approaches to member services.
  • There was an interesting Call Center and workflow strategy being pursued by Arlington FCU that was interesting from the perspective of combining Call Center and Cross Selling opportunities.
  • Reviewing e-statement approaches and incentives for members via electronic delivery has been a big costs savings for some. Apple FCU in particular had a great story here.             
  • There is certainly a more vigorous approach to vendor negotiation to obtain better pricing
  • Mergers as a general rule were seen as not being successful, however there are models emerging in which smaller credit unions can combine forces and purchasing power while keeping there own unique identity in the process (emerging examples of this are Partnership FCU).
  • Server virtualization was discussed and several members have taken aggressive steps to embrace server virtualization and create a portable infrastructure that drives down costs in the following areas: Power management reduction, power consumption reduction, reduction of server needs, smaller rack space footprint. (NIHFCU and Tower FCU) shared stories here. Also NIHFCU is pushing the envelope in effort to deploy more of a ‘branch office in a box strategy’ using Virtual Desktops VDI. John Szeglin, the IT Director is actively testing the approach and integrating peripherals into the solution so that he can drive down costs at the periphery of his network.
  • Some even expressed that they are not following regular upgrade schedules on PCs that were normally an every 3 year 33% of PCs followed a refresh cycle. Instead they were experimenting with throwing more RAM into machines to breathe more life into them. Since most of the core systems have a “Fred Flinstone” approach to building internet friendly web based applications, this may be a simple way to put a band aid on problems caused by incompetent coding development. It never ceases to amaze me in days of the ‘thin client’ how core processors still want a heavy footprint on the desktop.
  • SaaS – Software as a Service approaches were discussed. This is definitely an approach that needs to be explored further in further group meetings since alternative ways of buying and deploying software would reduce costs and deployment lifecycles.
  • Managed Services (MSP) approaches were discussed as well. The question of how can a credit union can purchase specialized talent to complement existing staff levels was the focus of the Managed Services discussion. As a strategy to do more with less it was a definite approach to consider.
  • Although many attendees are using Monitoring Services to provide monitoring services, there was a lively conversation discussing the differences between Management Services MSP versus Monitoring Services.  

 Thanks for everyone’s time and energy of these two meetings combining ITCUstrategy and the CUCTO groups of the MidAtlantic.

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