ROCKLEDGE, Fla.-How many employees does it take to run the credit union? One CU says it has a system that precisely answers that.

Over the last 2.5 years, the seven-branch Community CU of Florida has reduced staff from 125 to 85 by employing a lobby management system along with the "Job Jar," a unique online application that allows the CU to leverage employee downtime. "We have been able to determine the precise level of staffing that delivers an acceptable level of service to the membership," explained Technology VP Hank Phillips, who said headcount was reduced through attrition.

Both the Job Jar and lobby management system help CCUF track employee activity, to the point where the CU expects 70% of an employee's 40 hour-work week to be tracked. The lobby management system is a PC with a touch screen and a card reader that has replaced the receptionist and a paper sign-in process. The Job Jar is an online Access database tool that resides on the credit union's intranet.

Using software from West Lafayette, Ind.-based Passageways, the system allows members to sign in via a touch screen, or more conveniently swipe their credit or debit card to have their name and log-in time captured. Members then select the service they need, and the system puts them in the queue, informs appropriate staff that someone is waiting, and records who handled the transaction and how much time it took. Phillips said the CCUF determined that 10 to 15 minutes waiting time is an acceptable level of service.

"The lobby management system and the Job Jar have demystified what we are doing with our time," said Phillips, who explained it is best used to address "housekeeping tasks that need to be done to keep the credit union running smoothly. It's not odd jobs, but things that need to get done like database cleanup or changes to members' addresses-all the things that go on in the background that when you find yourself with a few spare minutes you can do."

Managers load jobs into the Job Jar, along with instructions on what needs to be done and where to get additional information if. Employees go to the Job Jar, select a task they are qualified to do, complete the work, and get credit for the job. "We have gotten so much more effective at using those spare minutes that happen at odd intervals in the day when people are waiting for a member to serve," Phillips noted.

The lobby management system also provides granular data on how much time members spend waiting for an MSR, the most requested services, and average time required by an employee to attend to a member. "The data helps us find out if any staff member needs additional training," said Phillips. "The reporting helps us keep track of the demand for staffing levels at branches."

Cost for both systems is minimal, noted Phillips. The Job Jar was created in-house. The seven lobby management systems cost about $600 each for hardware-a PC, touch screen, and card reader-and then $10,000 for the software to run the system.

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