Creating a better member experience at First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union simplifies a complex environment created by several mergers and makes it easier for employees to provide exceptional member service.

The challenge

Address employee frustration and clean up digital content confusion related to multiple credit union mergers and numerous knowledge systems.

The outcome

A new intranet, 'The Hub', is a one-stop-shop for the campaigns, tools, policies, and knowledge employees need to collaborate and better serve members.

The opportunity

When you undergo three mergers in six years, it’s hard for your intranet to keep up. Make that intranets because by 2016, First West’s digital reality was six intranets, multiple file share locations, a wiki, and several other ways for employees to collaborate online.

People were frustrated. Having to go to multiple places to find information, or having access to one intranet, but needing information from another, made it difficult to stay connected across different lines of business. Content-consumers weren’t the only ones having a tough time, says Jason Brown, Manager of Public Relations and Communications: “It became really difficult and time-consuming for teams to manage identical content across disparate systems.”

Bryan Mavrow, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, puts it even more bluntly: “We had come to the point of paralysis.”

First West decided that going from six intranets to one was urgently necessary. Anticipating even more growth, the company established a cross-functional team to create a single intranet that achieved the following goals:

  • Reflect the fact that First West is one company with distinct regional brands and multiple lines of business
  • Make it possible for employees to find the right information at the right time
  • Improve member service and operational efficiency
  • Help employees navigate organizational change, connect with one another, and celebrate exceptional service and results

The journey

First West wanted a partner that could work with both IT and Communications and collaborate within their organization on a solution. “By nature, a credit union is collaborative. So is Habanero. We worked as one team," says Bryan.

Habanero started with an eight-week discovery and design phase. During this engagement, our team led one-on-one stakeholder interviews, visited branches to connect with front-line staff, and met weekly with a stakeholder advisory team. One of the key outputs of this phase was a roadmap.

Together, we decided our top priority would be the credit union’s member-facing employees. “We became laser-focused on this audience,” explains Habanero Consultant Ellisa Calder, “and we didn’t bend.” Maintaining this commitment meant “we could rally around our purpose—helping employees create a better experience for our members—and deprioritize segmented needs,” adds Bryan.

Thinking carefully about member-facing employees, the Habanero team designed “something different from anything we’ve done in the past,” says Ellisa. “Typically, users find information by way of directories and tree structures. Instead, we created a ‘Popular Resources’ area where content creators can tag anything—a document, a page, or a link—as a popular resource, and it appears on a landing page’s roll-up of popular content.”

Jason, who led content auditing and migration for the project, explains the benefit to employees: “The employee has easy access to frequently-needed content.”

Built with Habanero’s Go Intranet Accelerator, their new intranet introduced other efficiency-focused features. “The mega-menu enables more efficient navigation, while the 'My Toolkit' area enables people to curate their own favourite links while allowing the Communications team to provide and manage links to content used by the vast majority of employees,” says Jason.

The learning

Habanero addressed First West’s goals on time and under budget. Insights from the project included:

  • Leverage GO: We saved valuable time and money by using GO as the intranet’s foundation, which enabled us to keep customization to a minimum.
  • Specify your primary audience: “You’ll always get stakeholders with specific concerns and needs. Having the courage to focus on our primary target audience kept us on track,” says Bryan.
  • Remember that content is still king: “Going through the audit and migration process with our legacy intranets validated the fact that poorly maintained content can cripple a well-intentioned intranet,” says Jason.
  • Be open to the unknown: Moving to a single intranet and introducing Yammer felt uncomfortable at first. But the benefits are many. “The mergers that formed First West were partly to achieve greater operational efficiencies. Now they have the digital tools to help accomplish that,” says Ellisa.

Having merged six intranets, multiple file shares, wikis, and Yammer, First West and Habanero have certainly delivered, "The Hub". However, we believe it’s important to not stop looking ahead. Although the new intranet is currently hosted on-premises, it’s cloud-ready. “Cloud solutions are going to be a major driver of greater agility and improved efficiencies in IT operations,” says Darrell Jaggers, CIO at First West. “It was paramount that The Hub, a core operational system, was primed for this opportunity.”

A deeper look

Yammer integration

The Hub's homepage features both traditional news and stories that first originated on First West's enterprise social network, Yammer.

Campaign support

Branch employees can easily access campaign support materials such as sales and marketing content and policy and procedure information.

Serving members

Employees use a serving members content area for up-to-date policy, procedure, rate, and product information related to their branch.

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