A successful collaboration requires the right mix of business partners, technologies, and technical skills. In 2003, Bellco and Bethpage™ Federal Credit Union (FCU) took advantage of the opportunities to create a successful alliance. The two credit unions formed Open Technology Solutions, LLC (OTS), a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO), focused on providing collaborative, technology-related services to a few large credit unions on the Fiserv platform. Bellco and Bethpage FCU were later joined by SECU™ of Maryland in 2007. Together, they have achieved the kind of scale none could have achieved on their own - more than 613,000 members and over $8 billion in assets - ranking them together as the fourth largest credit union in the country.
Operationally, the primary purpose of OTS is to create value for the partners by adding scale and efficiency to the process of providing information services. By sharing the expense of operating computer systems and other technologies, the partners were able to increase skill sets, service, and reduce costs. Having the same core system was just the beginning of working together. The partner's vision is to collaborate not only on IT, but on other key initiatives; such as vendor and product selection, contract negotiation, and purchasing.
The key to collaboration is trust, but what makes it work is organization. In order to build trust and to live up to commitments to our partners, a process was designed to enhance the team's ability to work together. The Board and key executives have an annual planning meeting to discuss and set strategic direction and overall priorities. In addition, the Board meets monthly to discuss projects and issues.
A Collaborative Project Steering Committee, comprised of key executives from each partner credit union, meets regularly to oversee activities related to projects and collaboration groups. These groups, with members from all partners, are focused on individual functional areas such as audit, business continuity/disaster recovery, contact center, collections, e-commerce, electronic funds transfer, lending, risk management, and security.