Top 15 Post: Carrie Buss Williams

The Strategic Liaison & Project Manager “has a way of making complex things simple.”
– Frank Cianciola, UMCU Board Chair

In the first round of the CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive competition, I shared a YouTube video describing my idea for a new Strategic Liaison & Project Manager (“Liaison”) position at UMCU, which allowed me to combine my experience in different areas of the credit union (all of the hats I have worn!!) including branch operations, lending, accounting, compliance, and programming.
Since a major goal of the Liaison position has been to break down the language barrier between IT staff and other departments, essentially “making complex things simple”, the quote above from UMCU’s Board Chair accurately reflects the progress we’ve made over the past six months since this position was implemented.

Collaboration across all departments as we developed the Liaison program was crucial, as the initial groundwork would drive the future success of the program. The following items were developed with a focus on the strategic vision of UMCU:

  • Job Description – created job description with a focus on “strategic alignment”, “teamwork”, “improved efficiencies”, “interpretation and refinement”, “detailed project plans”, “scope and timelines”, and “mutual satisfaction”, with the ultimate goal of “outstanding service to our members”.
  • Strategic Liaison Guide – defined the functions and responsibilities of the Liaison, as well as the role of other UMCU departments in the Liaison relationship.
  • Designated Representatives – established main department contacts and meeting schedules to ensure regular updates and consistent communication.
  • Programming Requests – worked with designated representatives to clean up and establish priorities for existing requests.
  • Request Tracking Software – customized fields and created reports to streamline priority maintenance, status tracking, and request resolution.
  • Requests Prioritization – developed a process for accurately maintaining relative priorities as new requests are submitted.
  • Strategic Liaison Dashboard – created a quarterly report to update Senior Management and the Board on the progress, status, and priorities of projects and requests, provide volume statistics, and highlight completed items.

Obviously we’ve completed a number of tasks for this position, but the positive feedback from UMCU staff best demonstrates the progress of the position! 

  • “I am excited with the increased collaboration among ops and IT and the increased prioritization that you have brought to managing requests.”
    – Tiffany, CEO
  • “With a thorough understanding of the strategic initiatives in process, we were able to identify items that should be considered in current projects and items that wouldn’t be necessary once a pending project was completed. This was a great education opportunity for everyone to consider what was most important strategically.”
    – Candy, EVP/COO
  • “Carrie has greatly enhanced the communication process, which has enabled us to bring IT requests to logical conclusions much quicker than in the past.”
    – Randy, Director of Risk Management
  • “The Liaison has helped our department function and communicate more efficiently with the IT area. Regular meetings to talk through project priorities, get input on how something might be done more effectively, and create a better understanding of all the steps necessary to complete a project are very valuable and allow us to work together better as a team.”
    – Andrea, VP Lending
  • “The position takes the ‘squeaky wheel’ out of the project/request priority equation, by creating a matrix that includes the entire credit union’s needs and expectations.”
    – Mik, Senior Systems Analyst
  • “I envision that the Strategic Liaison position could become commonplace as a ‘must have’ position for every credit union. The caveat for the success of such a position is having the right person that has the department level background, IT experience, and project management abilities. Fortunately for us, Carrie meets these requirements perfectly.”
    – Alan, CIO

Looking forward to sharing more good news in the next round! ☺
Thanks to everyone who has supported me in the NTCUE competition so far!!