Can an Intranet streamline process management for credit unions?
CHALLENGES FACED BY THE BFSI VERTICAL AND CREDIT UNIONS
Intranet software has been an enabler of productivity, coordination and compliance for business enterprises across the world. In the services sector and especially in verticals like BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), intranet platforms have played a big role in enhancing productivity.
The BFSI vertical faces numerous challenges of market corrections, bubbles and international transmission of business cycles. From a purely societal perspective the biggest challenge though, is financial inclusion. It is an authentic truth that in developed as well as emerging economies, the single largest challenge for banks is to reach out banking services to the unbanked and thus bring the excluded population under the net of the mainstream monetary system.
In this context of the challenge of financial inclusion, credit unions have done a fine job. The combinatorial innovation of business efficiency and social initiative based on a highly inclusive and democratic model has been able to take the financial inclusion agenda forward.
In this respect it has to be observed that for credit unions to continue to achieve goals of economic efficiency and social benevolence they need to use technology drivers to streamline processes, budget time and enhance coordination among members or affiliates.
DOCUMENTATION CHALLENGES FACED BY CREDIT UNIONS
Depending upon the total number of members that a credit union may serve, the biggest complexity stems from documentation challenges. While banks have the size, scale and resources to institutionalize standard best practices like KYC (know your customer), credit unions – owing to their more democratic approach – have a different model of enrollment. Onboarding members to a credit union requires the replication of practices similar to the KYC process that banks have – but there are differences.
To begin with, credit unions work on the basis of membership and thus applicants who sign up for membership get to exercise the rights of custodians of the credit union as well. As credit unions grow and the number of members rises, issues of document acceptance, verification, sharing, de-duplication and authentication become more complex.
Secondly, as credit unions endeavor to democratize themselves and thus expand the portfolio of their product offerings, the challenges to universal banking become more prominent and complex. There are individual members who may sign up for more than one product. These members may thus seek to consume multiple products that may be administered by diverse teams or departments.
Thus, what begins as an aggressive expansion of marketing transforms into an issue of customer identification. While some credit unions may opt for different eligibility norms and entitlement policies for members to have access to different products, but this may actually complicate the process rather than simplifying it.
Thirdly, member applicants seeking to consume more than one product may wish to receive the banking statements of different products in a centralized way so that they can monitor and manage their product usage and corresponding liabilities towards the credit union from the same platform. Conversely some other member applicants may wish to receive their bank statements and product usage bills discretely for each of the products they have opted for.
In either situation the credit union department(s) responsible for enrollment, marketing of products and debt recovery face the enormous task of streamlining data sets of members in a highly scalable format that may be customized in accordance with the demand of the situation. Document management is a major challenge to credit unions in this regard.
WORKFLOW CHALLENGES FACED BY CREDIT UNIONS
The second type of challenges faced by credit unions emanate from workflow management. While providing the product offerings of savings, remittances, insurance and credit, challenges emerge in the forms of sharing of data, monitoring and supervision of transactions, simplification of processes to ensure financial security, speed and smoothness of operations.
It has been observed that typically these issues boil down to the basics of search, retrieval, editing and sharing of documents and data for conduct of operations. To embrace business process automation to address these issues is a statement of the obvious.
Workflow challenges that credit unions face require a limited degree of process automation that is just efficient enough for the conduct of standard functions for the community of members with finesse and accuracy while fitting into the structural and financial perimeters of credit unions. Large scale enterprise resource planning systems offer functionality, features and performance that befit the modern day commercial banks but do not make a strategic fit with the business model, scale and size of credit unions.
Moreover, software application prototypes that require lump sum investment, commitment of financial resources on a recurring basis and technical competencies, consume the lion’s share of human, material and financial resources. In other words credit unions require technology enabled platforms that deliver on features, functions, performance and cost rationalization.
From managing credit, offering savings to members, providing an affordable insurance framework to transferring remittances easily and securely, the platform must work with efficiency and ease and that too in a cost effective manner.
COMPLIANCE CHALLENGES FACED BY CREDIT UNIONS
Credit unions differ significantly from banks and micro finance institutions in terms of structure, clientele, governance, earnings, products and services and the mode of service delivery.
On account of the differences that exist on the above mentioned parameters, credit unions face a double edged sword of being not-for-profit and yet earning a surplus in the non-accounting sense. The greatest virtue and the biggest challenge lies in integrating economic efficiency so as to generate a surplus and yet being a democratic institution with an eye on financial inclusion.
While being constituted by members who come together to centralize their deposits under one roof, credit unions face a unique risk proposition model where in operating as well as financial risks are borne by the same community of member custodians. This calls for credit unions to adhere to the principles of compliance, governance and regulation.
CRG issues in credit unions are unique and different from commercial banks and micro finance institutions. While commercial banks are for profit enterprises that are owned by shareholders and micro finance institutions sustain themselves on external debt, government aid and angel investors, credit unions apply net income to low interest rates charged on credit.
The tight rope walk between the ends of financial profligacy and prudence thus calls for the harnessing of systems that enhance transparency and information disclosure on a need to know basis.
All members get to vote to choose the board of directors on the basis of universal adult franchise irrespective of their financial holdings in the financial cooperative. This sets the tone for information on operations, surplus generation, and earnings to be shared between members.
This organizational culture that sets the tone for compliance issues to be addressed in the voluntary way possible requires a software portal to bring together all members and the board of directors on the same page.
HOW DOES AN INTRANET PORTAL ADMINISTER THESE FUNCTIONS DIFFERENTLY
At Precurio, we engineer solutions to the challenges discussed above that are customized to strategically align with the needs of credit unions. The intranet platform works to provide end-to-end solutions spanning across the different stages of the processes.
To begin with the intranet software provides for compact organizational directory that serves as the central node of member contact lists, particulars of correspondence and communication modes that are available and can be sorted by different parameters to streamline search of people in the credit union.
Secondly the intranet system comes loaded with a feature rich task manager that can be used to set targets on the lines of key result areas (KRAs), execute time scheduling, assign tasks and delegate responsibilities, to individuals and teams and track the progress being made on a periodic basis across devices and platforms. Moreover, cross functional and inter departmental processes that require coordination between teams can be managed efficiently and effectively to address the challenges of universal banking.
Databases and financial reports of all members can be created, archived, shared and edited by setting custom access levels for people. As a result, there is a seamless integration of data across diverse sets of product offerings like savings, credit, insurance and remittances while addressing the need for scalability.
Forms can be created with well-defined templates for each data prototype. This reduces the complexities of discrete data handling and document management. Moreover, the intranet software product comes pre-loaded with a dynamic communication system that facilitates discussion, negotiations and brainstorming for better, well informed, inclusive and collective decision making without the hassles of coordination failure.
The discussion system is an ideal platform to share opinions, exchange ideas and put forward constructive criticisms to maintain the much required financial discipline. The mobile intranet feature developed by Precurio lends the power of last mile connectivity on-the-go to credit union members so that they can easily and smoothly participate in dynamic communication processes using their smart phones.
The technological capabilities of the portal are equipped to enable instant document attachments and transfers. This feature improves compliance and governance in credit unions by bringing more transparency and agility to the decision making processes.
While engineering an intranet portal that is exclusively dedicated to credit unions, the engineers at Precurio have been able to integrate technical innovation with a robust cost value. This ensures that credit unions such as yours get a powerful engine for process automation that fits into your scale, size and cost parameters.
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