Beware These Top Four IT Fails

If your CU can’t provide adequate security, members will move their nest eggs elsewhere.

September 20, 2013

The information technology (IT) department can provide a competitive advantage and serve as a source of stability. But if this crucial area mishandles technology, the fallout can sabotage a credit union’s reputation and ability to compete.

That’s why IT managers must avoid at all costs these four deadly failures, according to the Axcient white paper, “Top 4 Common Mistakes Made by Credit Union IT Managers”:

1. Failure to protect the CU’s, members’ digital assets

Money is mostly digital today, and while most assets are managed through online banking, big players are pushing cashless payment options, such as Google Wallet, for mobile devices.

Many consumers see security as the primary function of credit unions and other financial institutions. If members discover that their credit union can’t protect its own information, they will certainly move their nest eggs elsewhere.

IT managers are responsible for establishing backup and replication, and redundant systems for failover and recovery. They set and enforce policies and procedures for data protection and security.

Another important element is to create and routinely test disaster recovery plans without disrupting production operations. Safeguarding the institution’s vital records and member information is not only a regulatory requirement, it is an essential duty of the IT manager.

2. Failure to innovate

IT can be the leading tool for innovation in the credit union industry. Credit unions are looking at IT applications that will enable them to provide more services on time and at lower costs, improving revenues and profits.

Those who will reap the greatest reward are the forward-looking financial institutions that install new technology solutions ahead of others to achieve a competitive advantage.

Virtualization and cloud computing are two significant and promising technology trends. Even incremental or tactical innovation is valuable, such as keeping applications up to date to ensure regulatory compliance.

Another critical consideration is updating the backup and disaster recovery infrastructure so new applications can be protected. For instance, does the backup software protect applications in a virtualized environment?

3. Failure to use IT resources efficiently

Efficient IT means maximizing the use of resources and minimizing the total cost of ownership. For typical small and midsize credit unions, turnkey solutions are more sensible than complex, multivendor systems that require customized integration.

IT professionals, particularly in smaller firms, have to be generalists that address a broad range of responsibilities. They simply do not have time for unnecessary complexity and management overhead.

A single unified, purpose-built solution with a single point of management can save dramatically on total cost of ownership.

4. Failure to respond to end users’ needs

It is easy for managers to forget that employees are credit union members as well, with an equal stake in the success of the business as owners and customers. With the advent of financial planning apps delivered over cloud platforms such as Mint, Expensify, and Pageonce, entire workforces have started to bypass IT departments that don’t meet their application needs or that don’t provide user-friendly interfaces.

In addition, the same “always-on” perception that users have about their favorite software as a service applications end up being transferred to corporate systems. When key applications inside a company become unavailable, more than productivity is lost, as end users start questioning the resiliency of their internal systems.

Users require constant access to critical systems, whether they are email or back-end applications. As an IT manager, ignoring end users’ needs is a fatal mistake.

Luckily, solutions that provide businesses with continuous system availability even in the face of a major IT event (server crash, virus, etc.) can provide users with immediate access to their data and applications, virtually eliminating downtime.