Collaboration is the key to success

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, I can’t speak to that, but I can say that it takes a village to raise a CUES NTCUE project.

The idea for my project, Tracking the ROI of Financial Education, had been kicking around in my head for some time. I am active with the National Youth Involvement Board, a national network of credit union financial educators and youth marketers. For years, we’ve collectively been asking for a way to measure the return of what we dedicate so much of our time towards.

My jumping-off point came during our 2015 NYIB annual conference, when Sheila Troxel from CP Federal Credit Union shared her system for tracking the success of their in-school branch program. Over the past few months, I have worked with Sheila and a handful of others around the country to learn what they are using, what they are measuring, and what they wish their systems could do. 

Once I had sketched out ideas for what I wanted to track, I turned my attention to our core processing system, Symitar Episys, to see how we could gather the data. Further development of this project required that I interact with other business units of the credit union. Gasp! Yes, that’s right- I had to leave my own silo and actually work with my coworkers.

It’s no surprise that interdepartmental collaboration is the key to any successful project, whether it’s a new product or service, or just a new tool for measuring the success of one. According to a 2012 study, 86% of executives blame workplace failures on a lack of collaboration and poor communication. My credit union, probably much like yours, is on a journey towards increased connectedness between departments. My own recent journey down this path really illustrated for me what other departments do and what each must work through to produce a finished product.

I worked with our Internal Operations staff on a way to identify the accounts we want to track, as well as to create procedures for frontline staff to properly code the accounts. Working with our Marketing team, we determined what offers could be used to incent account openings, and developed the physical coupons potential members can bring in to claim their rewards (and in the process, have their account coded for tracking). Our IS department will help me build a report that will pull information from these coded accounts, in order to track openings and profitability. Finally, I will continue to work with our Training team to ensure that frontline staff is clear on the new account code procedures and the reasons behind them.

Through all of these touch points I learned more about these individuals and how their contributions help keep our credit union running smoothly. My understanding of how a procedure must be developed, coded, and delivered to staff gave me a more global perspective of our organization, and all at once made my project seem much bigger, and much smaller, than it had when I began.

So, what is the takeaway here? Getting outside of our functional area is daunting, but is also refreshing. I have an extensive and diverse network that I am very proud of outside of my credit union- but it had never occurred to me that I hadn’t, or that I should, grow one within our walls. By showing genuine interest in what people do, asking them for help, and giving each person adequate lead time, I feel like I reached the next level in my organization, and expanded my internal network.

Of course, drawing on my family here at Fibre Federal Credit Union, as well as my network beyond, really helped in the voting process for the Top 15. One final thanks to all of you for helping me get this far- I’m so thankful that you are a part of my village. 

Shannon Cahoon