ROSEVILLE, Mich.-Account openings went through the roof at Christian Financial CU (CFCU) here after a new dashboard tool triggered fierce sales competition between employees.

"We actually got sales participation from staff we'd never seen participation from," said Lauren Vance, VP-strategic development and product delivery at the $235-million CU.

In the first 16 weeks of the CU's "Save to Win" savings account campaign, employees opened more than 700 accounts. Then came iDashboards, the business intelligence dashboard software that delivers colorful graphics representing the majority of the credit union's key data and metrics.

iDashboards delivered instant sales updates to employees, prompting them to compare notes with each other. The result: staff opened nearly 700 accounts in little more than 5 weeks.

"Competition really drives sales," Vance suggested. "We had a huge leap in account openings once staff could see how their sales compared to other staff and branches. They now have the instant gratification of knowing they just made a sale, and how it counted toward their sales goals for the day."

Like the instant sales updates, all iDashboard information from across the CU is "fresh and near real-time," said Dave Maurer, CIO at CFCU. "Even day-old data are sometimes too old to use to make good decisions."

Previously, the CU manually produced reports, primarily by pulling data from various sources into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and then printing hard-copies, which often contained week-old data by the time they were complete, he said.

"We save huge amounts of time," Vance continued. For example, before iDashboards automated the task, one employee's full-time job was to manually produce weekly and monthly sales production reports.

The internal auditing department has noticed the iDashboards difference, too. "It was cumbersome for this four-employee department to track 35,000 members and make sure all data were clean and documentation was in compliance," said Vance. Furthermore, the auditing manager found it difficult to monitor each employee's progress.

iDashboards not only identifies incomplete or incorrect data - and reminds auditing employees to fix them - but also tracks each employee's steps as they clean up the data "so that nothing falls through the cracks," Vance said.

The iDashboards user interface is "intuitive," said Maurer. Dashboards and charts indicate to managers the "pulse" of the business, he said. In accounting, for example, dashboards illustrate the current cash position and key performance indicators (KPI), such as capital ratio and loan-to-share ratio, said Vance.

"The KPI dashboards are helpful as a planning tool," she explained. By watching loan and share balances, for instance, the CU knows whether to focus on pushing loans or shares. "We can see the amount of certificate dollars coming due in the next few months and work proactively to keep those dollars."

Employees can click on dashboard charts to "drill-down" for more granular information or for different charts that are relevant to their specific task. Employees can access 80% of the credit union's key data via iDashboards, said Maurer. Maurer said that this year, he'd like to find ways to feed closer to 100% of the CU's data into the tool.

CUs planning to build dashboards should make sure the business user helps dictate the type of data that appear in the tool, said Vance. "Sit down with the end-user and understand their day-to-day process and what they need to see in the dashboards. For example, there are so many tables in our databases that I wouldn't even know where to start building a dashboard for the internal auditing department."

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