As you move into our strategic planning and budgeting cycles there are three must-haves when crafting a successful future for your credit union:
1. A Plan for Transformation – Strategic Plans should be designed to transform the organization. If the culture is, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” then don’t waste your time and money doing a strategic plan. If the organization seeks to be better, faster, easier and/or cheaper (more efficient) or if your organization is seeking to differentiate itself in a crowded marketplace, then strategic planning is essential. The only reason to do a strategic plan is the desire to transform and differentiate the organization. But transformation does not come without having an appetite to do the hard work of implementing change in your culture, business model, product and service offerings and business processes.
2. A Digital Strategy – The digital economy is upon us… Stay current in the digital marketplace or face the “BlockBuster” future. Digital includes the software, tools, functionality, applications, and marketing that allow consumers to conduct business with your organization beyond the branch, when, how and where they want. The lift in the adoption of new technology is faster than most financial institutions are prepared for. Mobile commerce (including mobile banking) quickly moved from early adopter to a mainstream expectation. In addition, most financial institutions are struggling to capture the minds and wallets of the millennials, a significant percentage of which are digital natives. They expect sophistication and ease of use with these channels when they conduct commerce.
But a large part of a digital strategy needs to include the alignment of and the elimination of as much friction in all the credit union processes allowable by law. The digital consumer is seeking a low friction experience. The minute unnecessary or extreme friction is present, the consumer quickly navigates away to a site that is easier to do business with. Our digital competitors are the Quicken Loans and Simple accounts. They set standards of expectation for frictionless processes.
Also, the digital strategy must be an “Omni”-organizational initiative and in silos; marketing, lending, IT, compliance, website, and branches. All of the departments must align and the experience must be similar between channels for the consumer.
3. A Data Strategy – we’ve all heard about the importance and impact of Big Data but financial institutions rarely have a data strategy. They may have some software or tools to help them manage, segment or report on data but this is not a strategy. Big Data needs to transition from being overwhelmingly big to being smart and actionable. The data strategy includes mining actionable information out of the core, aggregating data from the many sources beyond the core, making data understandable and readily available for planning, marketing and learning and a plan to capture and make actionable the terabits of unstructured data found in social media. A credit union’s ability to capture, understand and act on data will become the difference between failure and success. Those that don’t develop this core competency risk loss of market share and perceived relevance in the eyes of the consumer.
Today, more than ever, Strategic Planning requires organizations to be bold, visionary and driven by execution of those strategies. If your Strategic plan does not include one Big Hairy Audacious Goal – BHAG – (Jim Collins in Good to Great) and an implementation plan with milestones and accountabilities to get you there then you need to go back to the drawing board.
Strategic Planning is not for wimps…