MADISON, Wis. (12/20/13)--Credit unions pride themselves on their ability to work together, and the benefits of collaboration are well-documented, but collaboration is far from easy, according to a new report from the Filene Research Institute.
The report includes 11 case studies and provides checklists from both long-time and first-time collaborators that credit unions can use to develop their own initiatives.
Among the keys to success for credit union collaboration outlined in the report:
- Think broadly. Collaboration isn't easy, and it won't always save money. In the end it's not just nice to have--it's critical to the survival of the credit union system. "You might say, 'Look, if I buy this system alone it costs x, but if we buy it as a group it's one quarter of X,'" said Kirk Drake, president/CEO of Ongoing Operations, a credit union service organization dedicated to disaster recovery and a CUNA Strategic Services provider. "But the reality is that you were never going to pay x. A collaboration might end up costing you money, but you have to weigh the benefits of improved performance or member service."
- Choose the right partners. The choice of partners can make--or break--the success of a collaboration. Trust is a critical element of effective collaboration, but it will only happen with a track record. Previous relationships with potential collaborators are important, case study participants said.
- Overcome objections. A CEO-driven mandate from each participating organization is required, according to the case study participants. That said, egos should be checked at the door. "Get over yourself," one participant said. Also, keep in mind that participants may benefit to different degrees. You have to weigh the value of what you gain in the collaboration vs. what you would have gotten without it: nothing," said Mary Beth Spuck, chief administrative officer of TwinStar CU, Lacey, Wash."
- Get beyond the plateau. Effective collaborations will ebb and flow--but don't assume that a status quo approach is sufficient if a project seems to lose steam. "As a group, we just had a certain level of stick-to-itiveness," Drake said about Ongoing Operations. "We knew that if we maintained the status quo we weren't going to be relevant in the long term--we had to try something new."
To read the report, use the link.