Credit Unions

Alex GefterAlex Gefter has worked at Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union (MSGCU) since 2012. As Business Intelligence Developer, Alex creates reports and dashboards for the credit union’s day-to-day operations which also involves developing custom queries and stored procedures to optimize data and increase efficiency.

When it comes to data reporting, the more data the merrier – right? With over 100,000 members, MSGCU (Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union) understands the importance of effective data reporting. Even more importantly, MSGCU and other members of the financial sector understand the gravity of an efficient credit union reporting process. Without efficiency, large quantities of data are more likely to become a headache than actionable information. In today’s spotlight, iDashboards got an inside look at some of the unique challenges MSGCU faced when they transitioned their old credit union reporting process to dashboards, along with some of the obstacles they’ve overcome along the way.

iDashboards: What did your reporting process look like before iDashboards? How has that changed?

Alex Gefter: We used the Report Builder tool for building reports and SQL Report Manager for scheduling, which both have their problems. The users had issues with these tools because they were not necessarily user-friendly and they often run on the slower side. With dashboards, the reporting culture completely changed: The dashboards are used for various purposes from day-to-day operations to current promotions.

With dashboards, the reporting culture completely changed. Click To TweetTransition from Reports to Dashboards

What mistakes did you make during your transition from reports to dashboards?

One of the biggest things is that when we first tried, we put too much data on the dashboard.

What were the consequences of putting too much data into a dashboard? Did you have to start from scratch again?

There are actually two meanings to saying there was “too much data on the dashboard.” Number one is: The dashboard was hard to understand because there were too many different chart types, which could be quite distracting.

Number two is having way more than 1,000 rows in your data source. We sometimes need to show detail which can go up to 50,000 rows. The consequence here is a non-functional chart.

But no, I didn’t have to start from scratch. In the first scenario, I looked for any extra chart types that I could get rid of, or just copied the remaining ones we needed onto a different dashboard and then linked it back to the initial one. In the second case, I tried to negotiate the amount of data with the user; it’s just about the only option I had.

Can drilldowns help you with thousands of rows of data?

Drilldowns can help as long as your pivots and/or parameters are properly set up. The thing is, some users actually want to see all data at once (just like in Excel). In this scenario, some dashboard tools allow users to export the full data set while seeing a fragment on the dashboard, which definitively helps.

Credit Union Dashboard Example
How many dashboards have you created for MSGCU? How many do you currently maintain?

We released dashboard #638 today. We currently maintain over half of them.

How do you keep up with the maintenance?

Our dashboards are updated daily with the data loads from the core systems. We recycle and archive them at the end of each year.

Why do you think dashboards have become important to your industry?

You have to have your metrics constantly in front of you. Seeing is believing.

Seeing is believing. #dataviz Click To Tweet

What advice do you have for people who want to make sure their dashboards last?

Try to change them every now and then; don’t keep the same design (if practical). Make them as user-friendly and easy to understand as possible.

What is your favorite dashboard that you’ve made?

The one that we made for our Dealer Relationship Managers: It had multiple functionalities and an interesting structure.

Do you have any additional advice you would like to share with other companies in your industry looking to improve their credit union reporting process?

Give iDashboards a try. Start small. Use tutorials, as they are a very good source of information and practices.

Read next: Why Lean Data Should Be Your Credit Union’s New Years Resolution

See What Dashboards Could Mean for Your Reporting

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Alicia Beaubien Senior Content Manager @iDashboards

As a part of the iDashboards team since 2011, Alicia focuses on all things content and social media. Outside of the marketing realm, Alicia considers herself an athlete at heart – despite her height and typical clumsiness.


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