American Airlines CU Drives Continuous Improvement

Credit Union Data Processing Client Logo American Airlines - CFS Insight

American Airlines Federal Credit Union Drives Continuous Improvement through System Conversion and Data Integration Initiatives

The Challenge

How do you convert to a new core banking system, implement a data warehouse solution, include and integrate all mission-critical core operations and data needed to support the business, develop and automate tracking reports with accurate data, and coordinate completion by one unmovable go-live date? That was the challenge facing American Airlines Federal Credit Union (AAFCU).

Defining The Need & The Opportunities

In addition to moving its core system to Jack Henry’s Episys system, AAFCU was implementing the Advanced Reporting for Credit Unions (ARCU) data warehouse solution. They were also converting to FICS for mortgage servicing, PSCU for credit card servicing, and Meridian Link for consumer loan applications. The Microsoft Access databases used to track sales production at their 43 branches – and generate reports – were to be replaced by the ARCU platform.

To improve operational efficiency, AAFCU needed to automate the Daily Tracking report that went out to all branches, branch management reporting, lending performance reporting, and scorecard reporting.

To do this required integration of data from many sources, including PSCU credit cards, FICS mortgages, participation loans and goals in spreadsheets. Integration of loan applications from Meridian Link was completed in a subsequent phase. It was imperative the integration be completed by the time they cut over to their new Core.

“One of our main goals was to make the reports our branches utilized to run the business more accurate and efficient,” said John Reed, manager of business intelligence. 

“In the old system, each business unit created their own data points in MS Excel or Access. We would have multiple copies pulling from multiple data sources, and using different business definitions. All this data had to be stitched together manually to develop the tracking reports,” he said. “We saw this initiative as a great opportunity to clean up data, remove duplicates, put consistent definitions and processes in place and provide our branches with timely reporting.”

“Time was our biggest challenge. We had to respond quickly to what we learned in the discovery phase and prioritize the needs of the business units. None of the processes could fall through the cracks and all analytical reports had to be there on Day 1.”

John Reed
Mgr. Business Intelligence
American Airlines Federal Credit Union

The Solution to a Smooth Transition

With only a staff of one to manage business intelligence, AAFCU turned to CFS Insight (CFS) to guide and build the solution. 

“We chose CFS based upon the strength of recommendations from others, the thoroughness and quality of their proposal and their depth of experience working with credit unions,” explains Reed.

Through their business intelligence discovery process, CFS determined the specific requirements, which included a clear definition of the data sources to be integrated into ARCU, transformation logic that needed to be applied to the data during the integration and a clear list of the 25 different reports to be developed.

To facilitate data integration, CFS installed and configured its standard data connectors, then developed custom ETL packages with transformation logic necessary to greatly simplify and automate reports for this project and for the future.

The final task was to develop and validate the reports required by various departments to manage AAFCU’s business during and after the transition, all which needed to be completed by go-live.

One of the more unusual challenges to the project was the fact that the Daily Tracking report had to be 100 percent accurate on the first day of go-live, yet the operational systems contained only test data. 

CFS simulated what the production data would be in the setup of the systems and in the test data generated in order to ensure the numbers would be right.

The Results: Streamlined Processes & Efficiency

On the day the new system went live, there were surprisingly few issues that needed to be resolved. “There was very little that we needed to go back and fix,” recalls Reed. “This solution really nailed it in terms of data accuracy.”

AAFCU has been reaping multiple benefits from this major conversion and integration project. “In addition to improving the accuracy of our data we have greatly increased efficiency,” Reed said. “Instead of getting tracking data two days after the fact, our branches now receive it on the same day. This allows them to focus more on specific business goals and metrics in a more timely fashion.”

“We have done two or three scopes of work with CFS Insight and every one of them was completed on time and under budget. I’ve been doing this for nearly 25 years and CFS is the best group I have ever worked with.”

John Reed
Mgr. Business Intelligence
American Airlines Federal Credit Union

The efficiencies extend internally as well. Due to the fact that staff no longer has to manually pull data from multiple systems to create reports, they can now focus solely on analytics. 

AAFCU estimates that they have saved the equivalent of four to five people in terms of time savings through the integration and automation process.

“The success of this project has a lot to do with CFS’s experience in the credit union space. They knew exactly what to expect and how to guide us to avoid any problems or unpleasant surprises,” concludes Reed.

 “That in itself was a very pleasant surprise. Trust is paramount in a project like this.”

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