Charlie March knew processes needed to change when he first transitioned into his role as the Vice President of Information Systems at HAPO Community Credit Union. A self-proclaimed Microsoft buff with nearly three decades of experience in leadership, software development, and data infrastructure, Charlie was one of HAPO’s few resources that had this background.
As the number of senior management promoted from within grows—often working their way through the ranks to senior leadership—HAPO team members were seldom exposed to data analytics, business intelligence, and the value they bring to an organization. “I have a team of 22 people, most of whom have never been exposed to any data warehousing or analytics,” Charlie said.
Being that HAPO is over a $1.5 billion dollar credit union, it was due time to modernize their processes and start collecting data. However, it was soon clear the organization had not invested in this area of technology and analytics. The organization needed help…and fast.
Even with tons of experience, Charlie knew he couldn’t build an agile data warehouse on his own. He needed to find a way to bring HAPO into the modern data analytics age, and in turn, help business users, management, and executives make more informed decisions based on these analytics.
Together with CSG, HAPO has entered the modern data analytics age through agile business intelligence solutions. Learn about their journey.
When Charlie first started as head of software development at HAPO, he noticed fax machines at each branch were outfitted with copper wiring. To put it a different way…this is like using old rotary telephones instead of smartphones. And analytics? It simply was nowhere on HAPO’s radar.
Fortunately, HAPO had a core with ODBC access and a lot of useful data, but it wasn’t being captured for analytics. This would be a monumental task to take on. However, Charlie was hopeful that he could jumpstart business intelligence adoption with the current data warehouse when he reached out to CSG for support two years ago.
“We started down this road four years ago. I quickly realized our team didn’t have the skills or the time to do what we needed to do,” Charlie said. “The deliverables that CSG provided with a quick turnaround bridged the gap to help my team see the benefits and value of agile BI solutions. Because of CSG, we are so much further down the road.”
Given Charlie’s goals, CSG recommended data warehouse automation tools WhereScape 3D and WhereScape RED. WhereScape 3D was the perfect tool for speeding data discovery across HAPO’s numerous complicated core banking systems, which often lack sufficient vendor documentation. WhereScape RED was recommended to develop the data warehouse and documentation in a quick and Agile manner.
After an initial demo, Charlie immediately saw the value of forgoing a lengthy data discovery process. He was impressed by the non-proprietary, best practice SQL code automagically built by WhereScape and how easy it would be for his team to take over the data warehouse in the future.
“The HAPO data warehouse project has involved many design and implementation hurdles that would have killed progress if we didn’t have WhereScape tools on our team, “ said Eric Tengs, Senior Analytics Consultant at CSG.
“We had just gone live with a warehouse that included changing tracking dimensions, daily and monthly account snapshots, and many-to-many relationships. Suddenly, we faced a core banking system migration that required importing and seamlessly conforming to a totally different data structure. This level of agile data warehouse development just wasn’t possible before WhereScape.”
HAPO needed a partner that could look at their data fast, with even faster turnaround speed to drive the conversation forward towards solutions. Charlie said, “I’m a developer, so I come from an agile background. Without a doubt, the CSG team met my agile expectations.”
With CSG’s Eric Tengs at the helm, the HAPO team was in good hands. Like all CSG consultants, Eric can get down with the techies but translate the technical stuff into plain English to those who are more technically challenged. His approach to training—particularly his patience with HAPO’s non-technical team members—was essential.
Eric’s deep understanding of credit unions from the outset allowed him to speak the language of the internal HAPO team. Charlie recognized Eric’s ability to simply explain the product and processes to senior management as an uncommon feature in a vendor partner.
Charlie said Eric was a “gold mine” of a resource, and that if HAPO ever transitioned to another CSG consultant, they may lose a customer. This is a testament to the quality team that leads from the front at CSG.
CSG puts data and analytics into the hands of business users and IT. The goal is to help users get comfortable with analytics tools to make data-driven decisions. Entrusting leaders across the organization facilitates BI adoption, bringing technologically immature companies to maturity.
Prior to working with CSG, executives requested weekly dashboards to glean insights and make necessary financial decisions for HAPO. However, these dashboards did not provide real-time data. Additionally, dashboards were executed with a static password that was changed once a year.
Working with various non-technical parties, Charlie quickly learned dashboards were a key in guiding leadership towards the challenges of data and analytics. Charlie said, “Now instead of mockups, we’re in a position to present real functioning data with functioning dashboards to management. It’s been a huge help for the adoption by executives.”
The CSG team, with Eric Tengs as lead facilitator, provided HAPO with the ability to have real-time statistics on a more secure platform, thanks to dual-factor authentication. Not only was the result more secure, the Power BI dashboards were now more robust and usable as well.
While the previous stats were straight-up HTML, the new stats delivered by Microsoft Power BI offer dashboards and visualizations that give HAPO teams the ability to drill down into finer detail. In Charlie’s words, “Power BI has opened the doors for us.”
As a big consumer lending credit union, HAPO serves 150K members and does $40M in car loans in a single month. Multiple data sources feed into the warehouse—including core data, but also credit card data as well as lending documents.
If there was ever uncertainty surrounding agile’s importance, those questions were swiftly eliminated when the pandemic hit. The advantages of running agile became even more apparent.
Eric and the CSG team were able to ebb and flow with the new rules, moving towards a trending perspective. By providing rapid, robust dashboards that focused on how HAPO was impacted financially, HAPO’s finance department was able to digest information and switch gears as needed.
More than ever, time was of the essence. CSG churned out dashboards, fast and furious, getting them in front of accounting. This helped the accounting team understand what to focus on, giving them the leverage to watch for trends and plan a stopgap as needed.
The ability for Eric and the CSG team to shift on a dime alongside the HAPO team has spurred Power BI adoption. The pandemic forced unexpected transitions left and right.
Now more than ever, the entire HAPO team recognizes and applauds Charlie’s push towards analytics and agile business intelligence. And, HAPO is working through difficult times as a more prepared and calculated organization, backed by supportive technology and partnerships.