NAFCU Services Blog

Oct 15, 2018
Categories: Data and Analytics

Setting Up Data And Incorporating Into Practices

By Blesson Abraham, Director, AdvantEdge Analytics, CUNA Mutual Group

So you’ve got your data collected and cleaned. You understand why data analytics are critical to your credit union. Now we move to the how.

Execution is the critical next step. In a pilot program with six credit unions of similar size, the top performers dedicated resources and changed their practices to act on the insights. The mid-tier performers had a part-time approach, and the lowest performers blamed bad data modeling for not delivering.

Set up you data analytics teamMany credit unions don’t know where to start when setting up a data analytics team. And it is difficult because it has to be a full court press; part-time efforts will not achieve the results you seek. The most successful credit unions followed these steps:

  1. Prioritize solutions - Get the business leaders together. Brainstorm, and then prioritize the ideas.
  2. Decide how to execute - Do you want each business unit to act on it, or do you want to use a new, centralized team to deliver on these solutions?
  3. Define the analytics team - Should it all be data scientists, data modelers or should it be line-of-business managers that drive the team? Or all of the above?
  4. Choose your data sources - Decide whether to use internal data, external data, or a combination of both. Don’t boil the ocean, focus only on the data that’s needed to support your goals.
  5. Adoption - Where will your analytics team drive the greatest value?  In the early stages, it’s best to have a central team under the executive leadership. This structure helps keep results agnostic to specific organizations and will ultimately break down silos.
  6. Culture Shift – If it’s not already, executive leadership must help the credit union shift to a culture of test and learn. Data models need time to be refined and evolve as data sets grow. To be successful, a culture that supports change is crucial.

As your credit union moves into analytics, know that while this is a technology solution, it should not live within IT. It requires business owners to be accountable and to drive it forward.  Analysts can’t be financial analysts or marketing analysts. They’ll only deliver results based on their team’s priorities, effectively putting you back where you started. Centralizing these functions will help break down the walls between various teams and arrive at unified results 

Leveraging data analytics is less about the technology and more about the commitment of credit unions to act and adapt to the findings of results in their data analysis models.

If you missed the first two parts of this blog series, you can catch up:

Part 1: One Small Step for Data, One Giant Leap for Credit Unions   

Part 2: Data Analytics’ Real-World Application for Credit Unions   


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CUNA Mutual Group is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Analytics, TruStage® Auto & Home and Life Insurance Products. More information and educational materials are available at 

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