Driving Operational Excellence in the Age of COVID-19

By: Michael Dove, Vice President, Center of Process Excellence, PSCU

In the unpredictable and unprecedented COVID-19 environment, credit unions have been forced to adjust in many ways to deliver a consistent member experience – all while maintaining revenue and growth. Keeping costs under control without negatively affecting members, many of whom are facing stressful circumstances, has been key. To build sustained success into the future, credit unions should take this opportunity to develop lasting solutions for driving operational excellence in the new environment.

For credit unions, achieving a new level of operational excellence requires shifting strategies and process control improvements while managing financial risks and information security. To be most effective, this starts with creating a lean approach to internal development and effective team building, not only to support a solid foundation of operational methodologies and skills, but also to maintain strong, trusted relationships with your employees and members.

PSCU’s approach to lean internal development began with a grassroots campaign focused on educating our frontline employees about Lean Six Sigma methods for process performance. Our Center of Process Excellence (CPE) implemented a belt training program to enhance the professional development of our team members in various levels, with a roadmap to achieving Lean Specialist certification. We then use these resources as force multipliers, not only to encourage others to take the training, but also to identify additional improvement ideas to assist the CPE team.

The CPE team, made up of certified Six Sigma Black Belts and Master Black Belts, focuses on cross-functional, enterprise-wide initiatives that encourage the use of lean techniques and process maturity assessments to set the foundations for leveraging Six Sigma tools in our continuous improvement journey.

Strategies for Advancing Operational Excellence in Today’s World

Effectiveness, efficiency and security – both on-site and in the virtual space – are priorities for operational and IT leaders. Here are some recommendations for jump-starting operational excellence, at the fundamental level:

  • Focus on building an operational excellence program that aligns with your credit union’s culture and values. Establishing a strong notion of WIFM (what’s in it for me?) for your credit union and members is critical and should tie into your credit union’s overall goals and metrics.
  • Obtain a solid understanding of your credit union’s operational maturity, measurement systems and process capabilities. Implement a documented performance baseline to assist in sharing your team’s progress and achievements.
  • Building an operational excellence strategy requires an extensive change management effort. Using a change management model is very beneficial to facilitate this.
  • To breed the speed necessary to execute through pit stops, team members need to feel confident in their environment and ability to complete tasks – both individually and with their teammates. Accomplishing this requires clear expectations, communication and support. Otherwise, individuals can be fast, but the team will suffer.

By re-imagining your operational excellence strategy, you can set an effective foundation for your credit union to stay nimble in keeping up with your members’ changing needs and foster the optimal team environment.

Michael Dove is vice president of the Center of Process Excellence at PSCU. In this role, he leads PSCU’s process improvement and organizational efficiency efforts. Michael and his team of Sigma Master Black Belts and Black Belts have trained over 700 PSCU employees on Lean Six Sigma methods.

He is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt and a certified ADKAR Change Manager & International Coaching Federation Associate Certified Coach. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and Master’s degree in Adult Education from the University of South Florida.