Affinity Plus Makes a Statement with its Statements

No longer is producing member statements a cumbersome process.

December 01, 2010
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Producing statements was once a cumbersome, labor-intensive process that hampered innovation at Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, St. Paul, Minn.

But the $1.28 billion asset credit union solved its statement issues by developing an in-house solution that reduced costs by $750,000 the first year while integrating its statement process into core applications.

Affinity Plus Federal’s comprehensive solution won the 2010 CUNA Technology Council Best Practices Award in the Miscellaneous Category.

Upgrade requirements

Affinity Plus Federal was relying on an outsourced vendor solution when it decided to upgrade its approach to producing statements and daily notices.

The credit union weighed opportunities based on the Member, Organization, Employee (MOE) model, which makes members the focus of decision-making. Affinity Plus Federal wanted to give members timely and accurate paper and electronic statements.

Core operational requirements included:

  • Cost savings;
  • Automation of statement functions when possible;
  • Enhanced security and disaster recovery;
  • Integration to core applications;
  • Flexibility, including the ability to alter the “look and feel” of information throughout the statement cycle;
  • Timely and accurate statement and notice processing; and
  • A strong foundation for developing future opportunities.

The solution also needed to enable easy training, maintenance, and administration to help employees offer better service to members.

An in-house solution

An MOE-based review of internal and external options led the credit union to focus on the development of an in-house solution coordinated by a team of information technology (IT) employees.

The new process provides integration for existing host and application data. Components include multiple high-speed printers, modularized folder/inserter hardware, and integration software that provides flexibility and customization of data for presentation.

Daily, monthly, quarterly, and year-end processing was combined in a single, defined statement practice embedded into ongoing IT practices. Throughout the process, Affinity Plus Federal “jobs” can be sorted by variables and sizes.

Printing, folding, and inserting were streamlined by placing similar statement types together, such as running single-page statements as a single run.

The credit union went live with the complete process in September 2009, including the statement file run, deployment to e-statements, printing and inserting, and handing off to the U.S. Postal Service.

Achieving more

First-year cost savings of $750,000 are only a small part of what Affinity Plus Federal has achieved. Moving statements and notices in-house enhances security, while multiple accuracy checks reduce errors.

If a critical issue occurs, the new process allows the credit union to stop the run, resolve the issue, and return to production.

Flexibility has been significantly enhanced, with the in-house solution used for 2010 tax printing, letters, regulatory notifications of changes, and organizational communications to members. Member feedback was used to alter layouts and fonts.

Employees can easily retrieve notices, often on the same day they’re produced. Eliminating the need to go through returned mail to update member accounts saves significant staff time.

Future opportunities

Affinity Plus Federal’s in-house statement solution creates future opportunities for strategic marketing, including individualized member communications, target marketing, and embedded coupons and advertising for participating member-owned businesses.

Thanks to the successful statement project, innovation is no longer limited by vendor capabilities. Instead, Affinity Plus Federal is free to refine its statement and notice processing to further the MOE model throughout the credit union.

View the full entry and visit the CUNA Councils website to learn more about the CUNA Technology Council and the Best Practice Awards.

Chairman of the Board

Roger Knauss
December 09, 2010 2:24 pm
This is an interesting story that shows how innovation can save money.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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