North Shore Credit Union effectively uses member information to quadruple assets and redefine the banking experience

Published on 11-Dec-2008

Validated on 12 Nov 2013

"We didn’t need to advertise or launch an acquisition strategy. We developed an information strategy that helped us better understand our customer segments and identify the services required to build each relationship." - — Fred Cook, CIO, North Shore Credit Union

North Shore Credit Union

Financial Markets

Deployment country:

Enterprise Content Management, Information On Demand, Leveraging Information


North Shore Credit Union nearly quadruples assets under management by optimizing content-based processes so customer service representatives can spend more time advising clients than filling out forms.

Business need:
Shift focus from being a typical high-volume transactional financial institution to a full-service financial advisor that helps members save for the future, build their portfolios and grow their businesses

An enterprise content management initiative that optimizes content-based processes so customer service representatives can spend more time advising members and less time filling out forms

Nearly quadrupled assets under management by assisting staff in cross-selling efforts; realized more than CDN$100,000 annual savings; achieved 70% reduction in deficiencies in member-facing processes; reduced cycle times for loan approvals

Case Study

In just five years, North Shore Credit Union in North Vancouver, British Columbia, grew from managing CDN$600 million in assets to more than CDN$2.0 billion. Yet during this time the Credit Union’s core membership increased only 3%.

How did the Credit Union accomplish this? According to Fred Cook, CIO of North Shore Credit Union, they simply leveraged existing information to better serve their member base.

“We didn’t need to advertise or launch an acquisition strategy,” says Cook. “We developed an information strategy that helped us better understand our member segments and identify the services required to build each relationship.”

From business automation to business innovation

Walk into any North Shore Credit Union branch and the experience is clearly unique. Jazz music plays in the background. A coffee bar offers members cappuccinos, lattes and other drinks. Traditional teller windows are replaced by private advisory “pods.” This atmosphere reflects the organization’s move from being a typical high-volume transactional financial institution to an advisor that helps members grow their businesses, save for the future and build their portfolios’ potential. And according to Cook, the Credit Union’s enterprise content management (ECM) initiative has been essential in making this possible.

North Shore Credit Union’s ECM initiative—which is one component of the organization’s information strategy—has helped optimize content-based processes and enabled staff to focus on the member interaction instead of paperwork.

Typically, when companies develop a business case for ECM, they focus on how much floor space they can reclaim; how much faster staff can retrieve documents; how much faster critical business processes can be completed; and how it will streamline and lower the cost of compliance efforts. And while Cook agrees that these are important improvements that can drive significant savings, he encourages companies to think beyond process automation and use ECM to help drive business innovation and growth.

“Our goal is to turn data into information, information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom,” says Cook. “Our ECM system is part and parcel of this strategy, enabling us to redefine member interaction and give our employees the time and information to help members achieve financial success.”

A member-focused approach

The Credit Union launched its ECM initiative in 2004. However, instead of examining each department for ways to streamline processes, IT staff traced the entire lifecycle of each member-facing service to identify ways to improve the Credit Union’s interaction with its members. North Shore Credit Union evaluated several products on the market before selecting IBM Enterprise Content Management software, including IBM FileNet® Business Process Manager, IBM FileNet Content Manager and IBM FileNet eForms.

“I wanted a solution that was fully integrated with a strong business process and forms tool and could seamlessly work within our CRM and banking systems,” says Cook. “IBM FileNet software was the ideal platform. It allows us to drive out procedural slack and apply straight-through processing so our employees only have to deal with exceptions.”

The initial project deployment was completed in just one year and required only a single programmer to develop the workflows along with the interface for the organization’s CRM system from CDC software. In fact, according to Cook, when other bank executives tour North Shore Credit Union, they expect to see several IT staff assigned to the ECM initiative. Cook is proud to say that with IBM ECM software he only needs one part-time person devoted to the effort.

Additionally, because Credit Union employees can continue to access content and services through the CRM system, they can take advantage of IBM ECM capabilities with less than 15 minutes of training.

Fewer errors, faster processing times

Today, with IBM Enterprise Content Management software, North Shore Credit Union staff can leverage all forms of information for a comprehensive member view, streamline business processes, and capture documents electronically for easy access and storage. By automating paper-based processes and efficiently managing content over its lifetime and as part of critically important business processes, member service representatives are better positioned to respond to member needs and have more time to focus on advisory services. Additionally, the advanced business process engine has helped to reduce processing times so services can be delivered more efficiently, with improved process controls and insight.

For example, temporary checks can be quickly and accurately issued during the account opening process. Previously, members were required to complete multiple paper-based forms, which were entered into various siloed systems. Now data collected from members can be automatically populated into the electronic forms used to issue temporary checks. This has alleviated customer service staff from having to reenter data while members wait. In the back-office, it has helped to eliminate coding errors on checks and reduced the number of temporary checks returned from 3,000 a month to just 500, ultimately saving the Credit Union nearly CDN$13,000 a year.

By applying ECM to the Credit Union’s loan processes, staff has collapsed time required to approve loans by 50%. Now auditors only need to review 10% of the Credit Union’s loans before approval to assess risk. And whereas before auditors had to visit branch offices to review the loan documents, they can now access and approve files electronically from the Credit Union’s head office. This has reduced the time it takes to audit a loan by more than 50%, saving the Credit Union more than CDN$10,000 a year.

North Shore Credit Union has also used IBM ECM software to automate the process of opening new personal and business accounts. Now, as service staff gathers the necessary information from members, the system automatically populates account forms. Any missing information is highlighted for representatives when they pull up the form for the member’s signature. This process has helped the Credit Union to reduce information deficiencies by nearly 95% and cut retrieval cost by nearly CDN$8,000 annually. Storage of paper files has also been reduced to help branches improve design and maximize space for member service.

Most forms can be signed using electronic pen. In cases where members prefer to sign by paper or legal requirements dictate the need for a paper document, the printed form includes a barcode so it can be captured electronically and automatically indexed and routed to the proper department for processing.

Improved auditing and compliance

IT staff also worked with the Credit Union’s privacy, regulation and security manager along with its legal team to review the laws governing the capture of information and confirm that each business process conforms to these requirements and could be easily audited. The IBM FileNet P8 platform provides the flexibility North Shore Credit Union needed not only to support existing legislation but also to help staff meet future obligations.

“There’s tremendous burden on financial institutions to assure that we’ve confirmed our members don’t appear on worldwide security watch lists,” says Cook. “The ECM process adds a new level of ‘know-your-customer’ protection to help us make sure we’re collecting the right information.”

Significant annual savings

During its initial ROI study, North Shore Credit Union anticipated more than CDN$100,000 in savings annually from the elimination of preprinted documents, reduction in errors, decrease in storage costs, ability to perform electronic image audits, and elimination of specialized software for producing temporary checks. According to Cook, savings are ongoing and the Credit Union continues to find new savings, with some cost reductions coming from unanticipated process improvements. For example, the Credit Union has saved nearly CDN$18,000 a year in mailing costs by reducing the number of statements returned due to incorrect addresses.

“It has been amazing to see where savings show up, but our focus hasn’t been just on savings,” says Cook. “It was on how we could make our business better. Before, we had people with more than 15 years’ experience processing routine transactions. IBM Enterprise Content Management solutions alleviate representatives of these tasks so they can better present our value proposition and identify cross-selling opportunities to expand member wallet share at the street level.”

For more information

Contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at:

You can get even more out of Information Management software by participating in independently run Information Management User Groups around the world. Learn about opportunities near you at:

For more information on North Shore Credit Union, visit:

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

FileNet Content Manager, FileNet eForms, FileNet Business Process Manager

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2008 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America December 2008 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, and FileNet are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at Other company, product or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. This case study is an example of how one customer uses IBM products. There is no guarantee of comparable results. References in this publication to IBM products and services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. IMC14128-CAEN-00