C. Myblog

Don’t Let Poor Project Management Set Your Go-Live Dates

March 18, 2016

Three. The typical number of bottlenecks when it comes to credit union project management:

  • IT,
  • Marketing,
  • Compliance.

These three departments are tasked with to-do lists for many projects within the credit union – on top of their own projects and priorities.

A huge concern is if go-live dates are set on a case-by-case basis, instead of from an enterprise perspective.

Think of it this way. Imagine your credit union is planning to enhance its existing ATM network. This project is being managed by the IT department with the assistance of a third party. The IT department takes care of installing the hardware and software required. The IT department takes care of testing. The third party suggests an implementation date, and the IT department agrees with the date and time, which happens to be a Friday, the first day of the month, at 9 am.

Sounds harmless, except…

  • The launch requires full network downtime of 45 minutes and the 45 minutes must happen at 8 am
  • The 8 am downtime is actually right when the credit union opens
  • The 8 am downtime was chosen for launch because that’s when the vendor said worked best for them but the IT department never pushed back and asked if other days or times were available
  • It’s a Friday, and the first of the month. This means there are typically more members wanting to get cash because they just got paid
  • Compliance was not aware of the project until a few days after the implementation which increases the risk of a significant compliance exposure for the credit union
  • The IT department did not know that, on the same day, marketing was launching a new promotion that pays members a materially higher interest rate on their savings. If the marketing promotion gets the planned traction and the ATM enhancements don’t go as planned, member service will suffer. Not to mention the avoidable stress on employees had there been better coordination and management of the project
  • This is not the only key deadline IT has to meet on this day

Poor Project Management Hurts More Than Just The Project

If individual departments manage their own go-live calendars, without discussion or feedback from their fellow departments, and without consideration of the membership, the impact it could have on the membership – and employee morale – is no joke. According to recent research, a consumer’s most significant factor for annoyance with the banking experience comes from annoyance with the branch experience, and the biggest reason for banking loyalty includes delight in the mobile and online experiences. Additionally, other research reports that 36% of Millennials said they will probably switch financial institutions in the next 12 months.

Now might not be the time to make members angry.

If your credit union isn’t discussing high-level project timelines, with the right people, in one room, and with a visibility of how department resources and calendars are going to be affected, then you are playing a game of roulette.

The discipline to appropriately manage a portfolio of projects is no longer optional in this fiercely competitive environment. Smaller credit unions without the ability to designate someone to manage the portfolio of big projects can still find ways to work the conversation into staff meetings and daily huddles. But this still requires that everyone be on the same page and paying attention to the overall picture.

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