SAN ANTONIO — With increased branch staff reductions and adjusting bottom lines, more credit unions are looking to streamline operations. To this end, many are turning to technologies that support employee forecasting and scheduling capabilities.
"The problem with not using workforce optimization tools is that you're not building efficiencies," said Generations Federal Credit Union's Senior Branch Manager, Monica Benavides. "You're scheduling to preference rather than scheduling to the business."
Generations FCU has been using FMSI's branch staff reporting and scheduling system software since 2006 and Benavides said the San Antonio, Texas-based CU is in the process of upgrading to an enhanced universal employee scheduling solution. The goal is to launch at the end of the second quarter, which requires a measured approach, according to Benavides.
"We plan to have a hard roll out, but also plan on doing it a little at a time opposed to trying to get everyone together in one class," she said. "I will be working individually with people so by the end of the quarter everyone is ready to go and we are fully functional."
It's for good reason that Generation FCU, supporting 49,000 members in 12 branches, is undergoing an upgrade of services. Over the last three years, the CU achieved a 28% reduction in workforce waiting time.
"This is the number of employees staffed compared to the number of employees standing around waiting compared to how many employees are actually running transactions," said Benavides.
FMSI's Chief Operations Officer Meredith Deen explained the new enhancement will support those credit unions that have partial or fully implemented universal employee scheduling models. The tool provides detailed forecasts, including all types of interactions — from in-branch scheduling to account holder traffic.
"This upgrade came first and foremost from our client feedback," said Deen. "We are seeing more cross-training and scheduling needs. Our clients were looking for the best way to implement it."
With approximately 121 clients, two-thirds of which are credit unions, Deen noted that the official roll out date for the software will be June 1. And while she "doubts" that all clients will adopt the enhancement immediately, there are indications that the tool is in demand. "By the end of the year, we feel that half our clients will have implemented it."
FMSI's web-based Software as a Service (SaaS) solution is designed to match employee work preferences with account-holder traffic patterns at the branch. The scheduler analyzes historic and forecasted transactions from the credit union's core system.
Generations FCU will benefit from full branch scheduling, including better cross utilization of employees within the branch. In addition, the credit union will have payroll-based scheduling, including identifying idle time.
Other benefits include user-defined rotations, including fair distribution of less desirable shifts, robust task assignments, enhanced resource exchange sharing and smartphone schedule access compatibility.
"There are a lot of new things we will be able to do with this enhancement," said Benavides. "The older legacy tools don't offer one thing in particular, which is payroll hours versus forecasted hours. It also will allow us to see idle time. Right now if we have too many bodies on the line it doesn't tell there is someone in idle mode. This new tool will allow us to see this idle time and share resources for scheduling."
FMSI's president and CEO W. Michael Scott said every credit union will have a unique approach to universal employee scheduling. For example, some clients have branches with only universal employees, while others have mixes of tellers, lobby representatives and other roles.
"We made sure our new universal employee model was flexible, giving it the capability to specify cross-trained workers in almost any role," said Scott. "An employee can work as a greeter, a teller, a lobby representative or any combination of volume and non-volume roles throughout the day and the scheduling engine will schedule them based on the need."
While Benavides has worked with FMSI products since joining Generations FCU in 2011, and has experience with a similar solution while previously working at Bank of America Corp., she expects that her team will still have a slight learning curve.
"This is not just adopting a tool, it is an entire shift in the culture," she said. "But if you use the tool right and hire and schedule the right people and use the tool just not as a scheduler, but to plan each day of the week and every one follows it, then it should work like clockwork."