Browse by Type

Report #250 | | Members | Sign In

Operational Efficiency: Process Improvement Opportunities for Credit Unions

This report will help demonstrate how credit unions and their competitors have utilized quality methodologies to improve the overall performance of their organization.

Executive Summary

Credit union employees and leaders are not terribly different from other humans in exhibiting what cognitive researchers call the status quo bias. Without incentives, we tend to do things the way we did them before. In business, that often means muddling through complicated processes or inefficient workarounds. Using principles and case studies, this report maps a course for credit unions that want to discover and enact more efficiency. Doing so saves resources for the credit union and allows it to serve members better.

What is the research about?

Starting with an overview of credit union challenges and the areas that most affect process improvement efforts (technology use, timely process data, etc.), the report introduces approaches like Lean and Six Sigma. Challenges like waiting for approvals, excess movement of data, and incomplete forms weigh on performance in two ways: They increase the resources needed to perform even basic tasks (a financial drag) and they delay the completion of member services (a drag on membership loyalty and growth). Credit unions that can learn from the principles and actually introduce process improvements will win out.

What are the credit union implications?

The introduction to efficiency methodologies is instructive and helpful, but pay careful attention to the credit union and bank case studies. They reveal the different ways that credit unions are thinking about lowering their operating expenses without alienating the very members they are supposed to serve. They also reveal that process improvement can (and should) have different targets at different institutions, which is why the variety of cases will be helpful.