CAPITOLA, Calif.-Bay Federal Credit Union's in-house document management product is going public.

Ten years ago the $647-million CU developed its own solution for tracking member communications, known as "L1te" [sounds like "light"]. Management says L1te has saved Bay Federal "seven figures" in software and maintenance costs during the decade since its first use.

The CU recently reached an agreement with Thuridion, a software development firm based in Scotts Valley, Calif. Thuridion, which specializes in web application development, custom website development and technology consulting, will productize and market L1te to other credit unions under the name "Contessa."

Tony Lacy-Thompson, Thuridion's director of business development, told Credit Union Journal L1te is in use at two Northern California credit unions because Bay Federal has made it available as an open source product.

"It had six users at one point but that number has been whittled down to two because Bay Federal simply could not supply support, which is why they wanted to commercialize it," he explained.


Terms of the Agreement

Under terms of the agreement Thuridion is marketing L1te functionality today while working on upgrades. Lacy-Thompson said the first full version of Contessa will be available approximately November.

"Upgrades will be made to functionality to ensure it works with multiple types of scanners, rather than just the model Bay Federal has been using, plus we are making retrieval of documents easier under certain circumstances," he said. "Obviously Bay Federal has been running on it for 10 years, so it works well."

Tonée Picard, Bay FCU's EVP and chief development officer, said L1te was developed to enable an efficient means for the credit union's front and back office staff to see all relevant member documents, such as loan documents and letters sent to members.

"Other solutions were cumbersome and not very flexible," she recalled, "so we decided to develop our own system."

Picard said L1te has enabled the efficiencies Bay Federal expected and "greatly improved" member service. While its staff has continued to enhance the product over the years, she said eventually the realization was made that L1te had reached the point where it needs to be a commercial product.

"So we sold the rights to Thuridion to make these needed changes and the company will sell the product to other credit unions."


Word of Mouth

Other CUs learned about L1te and its capabilities through user conferences for Open Solutions, Bay Federal's core processing system, Picard said. Several visited Bay Federal's headquarters and expressed an interest in using it in their own operations.

Bay Federal outsources IT projects to Thuridion, "and working with them was very rewarding," Picard said, making the eventual product purchase relationship "a good fit."

"Thuridion was very interested in taking the product to its next level," Picard said. "Thuridion's experience with other financial institutions really helped it understand the need and value of such a solution."

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