Few credit union professionals question the benefit of paperless operations. It’s easy to see that we will save time searching for documents and use less space because we’re not storing paper. Yet GFA knew there would be more to going paperless than just eliminating paper.
Before making our decision, we wanted to know how paperless operations would alter our members’ experience. We hoped that our members would appreciate the efficiency and ‘green’ aspects of the technology. We didn’t want to provoke ‘member shock.’
Management certainly needed to understand our potential return on investment (ROI) which meant learning how our workflows would change as a result of paperless document retention and retrieval. Our staff would access information more rapidly and communicate differently between ourselves and our members. But we needed to know if these differences would generate a significant ROI.
Our technology partner, COCC, helped us answer these questions. Their experts shared best practices and workflows that have raised ROI in paperless institutions today. They introduced us to these clients to exchange ideas and experiences, and to show us how members of those institutions embraced the change to paperless.
In addition to COCC, we engaged a local college for a completely different view of paperless operations in our credit union. The college sent interns to survey our management and staff in an effort to learn about our current processes and to recommend improvements.
The interns identified 55 initiatives designed to add member value at a lower cost. These initiatives were calculated to generate an ROI of 64% and an internal rate of return of 79% – savings that will pay for our paperless installation in just 15 months. With numbers like these, the paperless decision made sense.
The process revealed something of even greater value to our organization – employee enthusiasm. Our staff appreciated the opportunity to participate in the interns’ survey about paperless processing, and they are asking about the progress of our paperless project!
Our paperless implementation is called “Appropriately Paperless” and will occur in three phases. First, we will remove paper from the new account opening process. By collecting member signatures electronically, our staff will gain immediate access to new account documents throughout our credit union. Paper will not be generated unless the member requests it.
In phase two, our tellers will discontinue the use of paper. In phase three, all accounting and human resources functions will convert off of paper.
We know that going paperless will profoundly improve our credit union’s quality of service and ability to grow without adding employees. We also know that our partners and outside expertise were key ingredients in this decision, its implementation, and in building the future success of GFA Federal Credit Union.