FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 2, 2003
For more information contact: Kristin Witzenburg, (310) 540-3783
Connections Online™: The Promise of the Internet is Here
Web-Based Management Tool Heralded by Credit Union Executives
Westlake, OH -- If you went back in time 10 years, how would you explain to your colleagues the benefits e-mail or the internet would bring to your work life? How would you describe how it exponentially increases your communication ability, how the rapid transfer of information impacts business flow, how productivity has improved, how work in general has changed?
It is in this same context that Credit Union CEOs almost can't communicate the impact Connections Online has had on their business -- although pinpointing the achievement and results they have encountered comes easily.
Connections Online, developed by Cardwell, is a web-based application that connects every member of an organization or a business for the purposes of communication, team building, strategic plan implementation, value reinforcement, information management, people management, and project management. The CEOs and
management teams who use it agree on two major benefits: it builds teamwork and trust, and it makes their jobs easier.
Steve Lumm, CEO of Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union (AAFCU) (formerly Hewlett Packard FCU), says that a key benefit of using Connections Online is to reinforce values. "Connections Online is a tool for talking about success, our culture, and our projects. It helps us maintain continual focus on who we are, what we do, and
how we do it. That's essential to a strong organization." Mr. Lumm and his management team utilize Connections Online heavily in three areas -- strategy implementation, project management, and people management. "The excellence part is everyone can look at the same set of projects and priorities online. You can click on a specific project and drill down to see status, tasks, and who is working on the project. We also use the metrics and measurement part organization wide and within each project." With $1.7 million in assets and 24 branches nationwide, Connection Online is a critical support mechanism to AAFCU's success.
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union (APFCU) in Minnesota, which grows at an annual rate of 20%, uses Connections Online to support its aggressive growth initiatives while at the same time maintaining their strong commitment to their core strategies. Says Dave Larson, Director of Branch Operations for APFCU, "I use Connections Online
to manage a team of 18 direct reports and 21 branches. We used to be scattered with different ideas and weren't able to execute. With Connections Online, we now adhere to strategy and execute towards common goals and work cohesively as a team." One of the features Mr. Larson and his team utilize is the ability to call up old team plans, for example, from a previous branch opening, and hit the ground running on a new branch opening with the old learning captured -- making communication and team building a snap. Now at $870 million in assets, Connections Online has been a mainstay at APFCU for years and will continue to keep them focused and successful.
Execution was a hurdle challenge for Oregon Telco Community Credit Union (OTCCU), prior to implementing Connections Online. Says Patricia Smith, CEO, "Connections Online was the tool we used to develop expertise in execution and communication -- which were our biggest challenges. Now we can achieve even our most aggressive goals." Using Connections Online, OTCCU moved from a highly manual lending process that took up to two days to approve a loan, to an automated process that approves loans within minutes -- all within one year. Ms. Smith and her management team believe Connections Online captures the spirit and commitment of the
great people within the organization and focuses them on success and achievement. "It's been great for me to watch people achieve and celebrate those successes," she says.
With its affordable price tag (a Quick Start package includes 25 site licenses of the software, basic implementation, consultant review, and one month ASP service and is available for less than $30,000 until December 31st, 2003) and easily deployed technology, Connections Online is a real option for Credit Unions both large and small.
Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union (TBFCU), now at $230 million in assets, has been using Connections Online for several years to stay strategically focused. "Connections Online keeps us on the same page, whether we're on different teams, departments, or levels. It brings us together and fosters teamwork and trust. It makes our vision for the future a reality today," says Dale Schumacher, CEO of TBFCU.
Connections Online consists of 5 separate modules: Organization Connection, Team Connection, Individual Connection, My Connection and Related Links. It is integrated with the Microsoft Suite, can be launched from Outlook and integrated with Outlook tasks and dates, with import/export features to Word and Excel, and integration
with Project. Utilizing one or all modules, from the top down and from the bottom up, people work together towards strategic goals. "Connections Online gives us FOCUS. With the rate of change in our industry, no other management system does this. It centralizes critical information, tracks progress, facilitates teamwork, and helps us meet our strategic and tactical objectives," says Ron Rioux, CEO of St. Mary's Bank. Now at $490 million assets and with three CUSOs, St. Mary's Bank used Connections Online to build its totally online centralized lending website, winning "Best Banking Website" in
all sized institutions.
Behind Connections Online is a SQL relational database engine. Most financial institutions use relational databases on some level -- to integrate ATM transactions to their system, for example. The beauty is that, like having data sets talk to each other in the ATM/core system relationship, content sets talk to each other in Connections Online -- creating online real-time large group communication, decisioning, and management. Yet it's easy to install. "Connections Online is a desktop application that is easily deployed throughout the organization. It's our connecting link to each other and the strategic plan. It keeps us focused on all the divisions of the business," says Jay Murray, SVP/COO of Mid Atlantic Corporate Credit Union, who uses Connections Online to manage its operations of $3.7 billion in assets, 1,160 Credit Union members, and "My CU Services" CUSO.
The net result for organizations is a management tool that simply makes the work more enjoyable -- the workplace is more achievement oriented, with clearer direction, and with a fair system for debating and allocating resources. "Connections Online is the best management tool I've ever had. It keeps us focused on our core values, helps us meet our critical measures, and gets our priority projects accomplished. It's the way we run our companies," says Larry Sharp, CEO of Arrowhead Credit Union. With $750 million in assets, five CUSOs, and business services, Connections Online is the tool Mr. Sharp and his management team use to lead this complex full service business structure.
The bottom line of building teamwork and trust is why Kyle Markland, CEO of Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, has been using Connections Online for years. "Connections Online helps us achieve better results faster by tracking and measuring our strategic execution. It keeps everyone focused on the bull's-eye."
For more information about Connections Online, visit www.connectionsonline.net or contact Kristie Greenleaf at (310) 540-7493 / [email protected] For more information about this news release, contact Kristin Witzenburg at (310) 540-3783 / [email protected]