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.
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.
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.
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.