Co-creation up front streamlines development.
This is a bonus article from “Magnifying Effectiveness” in the September 2017 issue of Credit Union Management magazine.
From its inception as a credit union service organization in 2002, CUES Supplier member Share One, Inc., Memphis, Tenn., has committed to a collaborative approach with its 19 shareholder credit unions in developing its core processing system, NewSolutions, and related software, says President/CEO Teri Van Frank.
“When we design software, we get everyone involved. We have some CEOs who draw pictures of how they want our home banking to look or how they want NSLoan or NSJoin [online lending and membership application systems] to look. They like to be involved in a hands-on way,” Van Frank says.
Credit unions are especially suited for collaboration because they “don’t compete against each other, even when they’re in the same market. They want solutions that work well for everyone,” she notes.
Share One often interfaces with member credit unions online via webinars “to invite feedback and questions to ensure that products and platforms are aligned with their member service approach, but there’s nothing like getting everyone in the same room,” Van Frank says.
Share One hosted a CEO roundtable in January, an invitation to see product development under way and to comment on functions and features executives would like to see for their credit unions. Those discussions went down to the level of how new product features are designed to help frontline staff do their jobs, like taking loan applications and funding loans faster and how to make money transfers proceed more efficiently.
To encourage more discussions like these, Share One does not charge registration fees for its annual conferences as an added incentive for credit union executives to attend.
“When we host our conferences in Memphis, at lunch a CEO or COO might find themselves sitting next to the developer of Share One’s home banking or ACH origination system,” she notes. “Communication is essential in identifying and working together to meet some of the challenges facing the credit union industry, like marketing to millennials. Those challenges are going to take a joint effort of credit union executives and CUSO staff working together.”
Seeking input from credit unions along the way does not slow down product development, Van Frank says. In fact, Share One’s adherence to agile processes, with member credit unions testing functions and features on the heels of development, may actually speed up project completion.
Before Share One adopted the agile methodology, which relies on the collaborative effort of cross-functional teams to respond quickly to changing needs, programmers might develop functionality in isolation from member CUs only to find problems after release.
“Now that we’ve evolved our approach, we’re no longer rewriting software. When credit unions get it, it’s 99 percent done,” she notes.
Karen Bankston is a long-time contributor to Credit Union Management who writes about credit unions, membership growth, marketing, operations and technology. She is the proprietor of Precision Prose, Eugene, Ore.