Technology Updates: What an amazing journey it's been

In 2016, Affinity Plus set out to make technology improvements to the credit union. We knew the project would be big – our biggest in the past 20 years, if not ever. That turned out to be true!

This journey culminated in early October 2018 as we completed the seventh and final system implementation.

Seven systems to lay a new technology foundation for the credit union. Seven systems to make Affinity Plus more effective, efficient and responsive to our members.

And we’ve done that. We’re proud of the work our employees did to complete this project. Just as much, we’re grateful to our more than 195,000 members statewide who hung in there with us through longer hold times or slightly longer lines at branches.

The best part of our credit union – people – led the way. Our employees made sure our values of caring, excellence and integrity were front and center every step of the way.

So what was this journey?

We began in 2016 with an exhaustive review of where we stood regarding our essential financial and digital systems.

To understand where we wanted to go, we visited other credit unions, attended conferences, met with vendors and read – a lot. Like, 5,352 pages of proposals.

Our first system launched in November 2016 – it was “Encompass”, a real estate loan origination system. More followed through the next few years, with specific names like “Lending 360” and “Prologue” and “FICS”.

Their names and features aren’t that important to members, but they matter to us. These systems move us toward greater efficiency and automation so that we’re able to meet members’ daily banking needs and bigger financial goals.

In 2017, the project went into high gear. It included the adoption of a mobile-first, member-focused digital strategy. We did that in response to member feedback and behaviors – as each year passes, more and more of our members want the convenience of being able to bank on their own time.

A year later, in April 2018, our new digital banking platform debuted. That included an entirely new mobile-banking app and online banking. Members told us what they wanted, and we focused intently on their experience. At various design stages, we met with members for their specific feedback. The results were, and are, personalized and customized to our members.

Our new digital banking platform has been a success. Our mobile banking app usage has grown 28 percent in one year, and 59 percent of all Affinity Plus members use digital banking. That’s only going to continue to grow.

That same time, we debuted MyPlus Rewards, our new, streamlined rewards program. MyPlus Rewards provides increasing value to members the more they engage with the credit union.

Members have responded to their new earning power – within six months, almost 15,000 members redeemed 140 million MyPlus Rewards points worth $1.4 million.

And then came Oct. 1, 2018. We were closed that weekend and Monday to convert all the financial information from the old to the new core processing system.

For months prior, we steadily communicated with members about that time. We explained the few simple things they should do to prepare for the closure. The result was a smooth transition.

In the days and few weeks after, we anticipated longer wait times in branches and hold times on the phone. Still, we knew our employees would get faster and more confident with the new systems each day. And that’s happening now.

As 2018 comes to a close – which also signals the end of this three-year journey – Dave Larson, Affinity Plus President/CEO, shared his thoughts with members.

Dave thanked members for their patience and understanding. He shared his confidence in the credit union’s technology foundation for the future.

And that was our goal from the very beginning. From those first days in 2016, we knew that to build the technology foundation we had to plan, progress and show results.

One of our favorite parts of serving members is celebrating special moments large and small with them. This three-year journey is a big thing worth celebrating! We did this together, and the future is bright for Affinity Plus.