Do Your Data "Bytes” Have a Bad Aftertaste...

Data Bytes

By Rich Jones

We all know how important data is to our credit union. Let's face it; we are report addicted. We love our reports. We like to compare day to day, month to month, year to year, and peer to peer. Let's get real, we run two reports side by side and, oh the horrors; the numbers don't match the general ledger or the neighboring report. The math doesn't balance. The result is, we get many numbers to look at that we can't trust. So, we fall back on our gut, instincts, and intuition.

Here is what we know.

If we have data we can trust, we can use it to improve our marketing, service, sales, products, member engagement, and processes.

How do we get to this data nirvana?

 First, we need to understand what data is. Step away from the buzz words; big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data warehouses, data lakes, the list is endless. This step is a process of educating ourselves on "OUR" data.

Second, we need to understand where our data is. We know there is a wealth of data in our core operating system, but is it accessible and can it be manipulated? However, beyond the core system, we have probably forty or more third-party data sources.  A data inventory is essential; this is nothing more than a list of all the sources of data.

Third, we need to know how we are getting that data. Do we get direct feeds of data, batch feeds, PDF reports, or do we have to sign in to a website to extract or view reports?

Fourth, what do your staff need to do to these data extracts to make them usable? What kind of manual manipulations must they do to make this data available and usable?

Fifth, we need to institute a process for data governance. This step is often overlooked but is probably the essential step in making data believable. Data governance has rules that give guidance on how to collect, normalize, load, define, and secures the data.

Sixth, the credit union needs to establish data ownership. Often, data ownership resides in a business unit. This siloed ownership results in a lack of inconsistency in reporting. If marketing were defining a member, they likely would have a different definition than finance or lending. Please break this habit and think of data as something that serves the entire organization in the form of Business Intelligence (BI.) Think of BI as you think of HR or IT. Data serves the organization, not just a single business unit. Data needs "governing" ownership that ensures the rules and processes asked from data governance are adhered to, consistently.

Want to learn more about how to use data in your credit union?

Attend "Big Data to Small Date" on October 22, from 8:30 to 9:50 am at the League Annual Meeting.

About the author:

A published author, Rich Jones is President/Principal for Leaders2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he was SVP of BI, Marketing and Business Development at $1B Elements Financial FCU.  With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to credit unions across the country. 

Rich published, "Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence." The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection.

Rich has worked with credit unions across the country, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council.

A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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