CUs' Projects Get Cybercollaborative
Coast Hills, Sandia and
BY SHANE KITE "Bank Technology News" September, 2004
The optimism that Jeff York, CEO at Coast Hills Federal Credit Union, has been exhibiting lately stems from a superior understanding of his business, following installation of a collaborative Web-based application in February that integrates with Microsoft Outlook.
Called Connections Online, the project-management platform from Westlake, OH-based Cardwell has made Coast Hill’s business more transparent to its CEO and employees. Essentially, the platform has turned each desktop of the Lompoc, CA-based credit union into a collaborative workstation, in which senior executives and employees share a single interface—a familiar but hyped-up version of a screen that both looks like and connects with Outlook and its calendar, tasks and e-mail features.
The platform uses integrated benchmarks and metrics specific to a credit union—like an individual’s net worth, monthly product volume, loan-to-share ratio, asset growth and return on assets —to measure the success or progress of major efforts in these areas. Employees post and access the system to check deadlines, get information or collaborate on projects to get their jobs done, and senior executives click to audit their progress. “It puts everything top of mind, in your face,”
The system posts priority dates and project discussion threads to Outlook Calendar, adds deliverables to Outlook Tasks, pools related e-mail of team members and collaborators, and allows users to import/export Microsoft Word and Excel documents to update projects, sift trend data or create Gantt charts. Clickable, folder-tops offer single-screen access to four basic views, including a customizable “My Connection” page, an executive “Organizational Connection” a “Team Connection” interface and an “Individual Connection.”
Adoption of such collaborative management tools is not just for executive assistants and their bosses anymore, according to David Coleman, managing director at Collaborative Strategies. The San Francisco-based consultant predicts that the software component of what his firm calls the distributed project management, or DPM, market should reach $9 billion by 2005, versus an estimated $3.2 billion this year, and just over $1 billion conjectured in 2001.
While Cardwell’s concentration on serving credit unions is unique, the firm is now targeting banks— an effort that will pit it more closely against its nearest rival, Austin-based Plainview, which provides IT governance solutions to JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, KeyBank and Citicard.
Like Connections Online, PlanView integrates into Outlook, and has a discussion thread and collaboration space where individuals can document best practices and exchange ideas. Neither system’s dialogue feature includes instant messaging, however, says Cardwell’s president, Karla Norwood.
Instead, Cardwell is focused on establishing technical requirements for a .Net solution to allow users to link the platform to different application databases, such as Oracle or IBM’s Lotus Notes. While that release is a year away,
Implementation of Connections Online has “meant big-time cultural change” at Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union, says Jo Dee Martinez, senior manager of strategic projects. SLFCU is using Connections Online to manage an overall push to increase assets to $2 billion from $860 million.
The single-screen, top-down view of the firm’s main mission and strategy can enable staff to glean specific and contextual intelligence about strategic direction, and how to prioritize among various efforts. Before, such decision-critical information was diffused among separate business units, project teams, desktops and Excel ledgers.
Such a cultural shift is exactly what Washington State Employee’s Credit Union is seeking, says the firm’s CTO, Ben Morales. WSECU is using Cardwell’s platform to complete its “one
Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union, meanwhile, is using the system to minimize “slippage” in building a duplicate data center for business continuity, says Gregory A. Smith, president and CEO at PSECU.