Time is money. Anyone in business – especially in the financial sector – knows this adage well. Serving a dynamic, evolving group of account holders requires financial institutions to stay nimble and ahead of the competition, all while being compliant with regulators, providing tight cybersecurity, and delivering an authentic user experience in step with the institution’s unique brand.

Dale Watkins sought to harness the untapped power of Q2’s digital banking platform in late 2021 when he stepped into his new role as Chief Information Officer of MAX Credit Union (“MAX”), a 120,000-member organization. First on his list: create a culture shift to a digital-first strategy, starting with the IT Department.

Increasing the cadence of innovation

“I’ve been on our financial system core for 16 years now. I know everything it can do, inside and out, and I already knew all of the vendors (working on our projects). What MAX really needed was an injection of new ideas. They needed somebody who knew the core to come in, use its capabilities and direct the in-house development of solutions.”

With Q2 Innovation Studio Watkins was able to quickly shift the organization’s reliance away from third-party contractors and bring it back under MAX’s control. “When I got a hold of Q2 Innovation Studio, I thought it was really cool and user-friendly,” he said. With its pre-built and fully customizable solutions, paired with the IT capabilities already ingrained in MAX’s development team, Q2 Innovation Studio is accelerating MAX’s digital banking evolution.

“Our development team is fully in place – and even expanding – so we can produce more of these custom solutions. And they’re not just for members. We’re also using them for internal processes to gain efficiency, with automation, new reporting, and new workflows. Our development team is doing now what we really couldn’t do before,” he said.

“Efficiency fixes really can’t be outsourced,” he continued. “You need people internally that can identify issues, find solutions and implement them quickly. It can be very expensive (up to six-figure contracts) to have a third-party vendor come in cold turkey and evaluate all of your processes.”

Member Referral Program: Delivered years faster, saving more than $100,000

Case in point: When MAX sought to launch a new Member Referral Program, the contractor bids came in at $180,000. Timeline? Upwards of five years. Instead, Watkins tapped the talent he had with his own developers and turned to Q2 Innovation Studio. “We’re doing the (Member Referral Program) project in-house and only using a couple of vendors for sending the communication to members. It’s going to cost us a little bit to send out some emails, but nowhere near $180,000. “Now, our in-house development team can quickly address innovation needs, and we don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to an outside party and be in the queue and waiting forever.”

Watkins understands the value of third-party contractors and views them as an important resource. At the same time, MAX members and internal employees rave about the newfound speed, efficiency and autonomy they have with Q2 Innovation Studio. “You can always go pay for vendors, but it often takes eight months to a year and costs a lot to integrate. Why hire a third party, pay them money, be put in the queue and wait for them to tell you when they can deliver that solution? All of these third-party vendors are six to eight months out, so, it really helps for us to do it ourselves. Just go ahead and get it done.”

Member Rewards Program: Delivered in days, not months, saving $50,000

“If you have people in-house who are knowledgeable in Q2 Innovation Studio, you can really do a lot. For instance, we quoted out our Member Rewards Program to third-party vendors, and it was going to cost us upwards of $50,000 and take six to eight months.”

“I did it myself using Q2 Innovation Studio in about two days of coding and two weeks of information gathering. So, (Q2 Innovation Studio) is powerful enough to where we can do very complicated projects, customized just for ourselves. It really took me less than two weeks to create a fully-featured member rewards and member referral program with dashboards for mobile.”

“It’s designed to specifically reward people using their debit or credit cards, so results also include the Share of Wallet and simply being top of mind with the institution. And we’re looking at creating an incentive program that allows members to cash in their member points for a rate reduction on their loan, use their member points to donate to charity and other options. We’re using Q2 Innovation Studio to present these new ideas to members in a way that’s easy for them to understand, showing how they can go in and simply click a button to redeem their points.”

ROI from every angle

It’s clear that Q2 Innovation Studio has already impacted MAX’s future trajectory. Today, MAX delivers new features, tools and upgrades to members in a fast, cost-effective way. “It’s not just custom solutions for members, it’s also an increased efficiency in internal processes coupled with automation and new reporting and workflows. We can now do this with our in-house development team, which wasn’t possible before,” he said.

“We’re saving a lot of money and time while creating unique programs. We’re doing everything from mobile deposits and external transfers and the things that most financial institutions should offer, along with adding on more advanced features. This allows us to make strategic, targeted offers for members based on their relationship with the credit union.”

“I have 27 projects now on my list in a matter of four months that we’re going to be starting to push forward. Over half of those are Q2-related using Innovation Studio to really expand our reach and our digital capabilities. At that point, the sky is the limit, right?”

“And kudos to Q2’s support. I sent in a help ticket recently, and within a day, they responded and got me back on track. They expressed during the training that they really want institutions to feel supported and be freed up to innovate.”