From offering your members the service options they are looking for, to keeping up with regulatory demands, to ensuring day-to-day operations in a reliable and efficient manner, today’s credit union is asked to understand more about technology than ever before.
One area of technology that presents its own significant set of challenges is telecommunications. The telecom industry can be difficult to master for several reasons: First, despite the fact that it’s comprised of newer technology, it remains an “old school” industry with legacy players like AT&T and Verizon leveraging old fashioned, relationship selling vs. arming consumers with information and allowing them to select the best product for them.
Another reason is the pace with which the industry changes. From mergers and acquisitions, to technology advances and proliferation, one has to be plugged into the telecom industry on a full-time basis to really understand all of the available options. The result is that all of this churn and lack of visibility makes it difficult to design a telecommunications plan to serve and grow with your credit union’s technology needs. But where to start? Below are five questions to help guide you when building out your telecom plan:
- What Are Your Credit Union’s Technological Needs Beyond Simple Bandwidth?
While bandwidth is the obvious factor that has always been considered, there’s more to think about than how fast your data moves when working to provide the best experience possible. Making sure you are built to withstand carrier outages, physical connection issues, and remote user connectivity (in addition to any unique needs that may be required by your service offerings) are all key considerations for your credit union to undertake.
- What Are The Current Offerings in Your Area?
The pace with which technology is advancing and infrastructure is being installed requires you to evaluate all vendors in your immediate area to ensure you are making the best decision for your institution. It is wise to give the smaller telecom carriers consideration too as they can often offer a more competitive rate for the very same infrastructure that the larger providers are trying to sell you. Culturally, another reason to consider these smaller providers is the very same reason that a consumer should consider your credit union versus a mega-institution. This doesn’t imply you should move forward without doing your research into all providers, large and small, but don’t write any off immediately as you may risk giving up real value.
- How Can Your Institution Reduce Risk?
As you develop your telecom plan, make sure that you are incorporating multiple technology platforms and providers into it. By varying your technologies and leveraging multiple providers, you effectively guard against outages of carriers and infrastructure. You may even wish to consider having the various connectivity points run to different ends of your locations to further guard against instances of digging crews taking your connectivity down all at once. Additionally, be sure to evaluate connectivity to each location from a business continuity standpoint, and be sure to consider broadband options in this process as they can provide some of the greatest value on the market today.
- What Technologies Should Be Insourced vs. Outsourced?
Bandwidth can be expensive, especially if you are in a rural location without the benefit of multiple competitors for your business. Depending on your needs and your options, it may make more sense to employ internal technologies such as WAN acceleration instead of paying the price to add more bandwidth, a recurring cost that you will assume monthly. Other items to consider include use of a firewall and dual factor authentication to allow ease of access for remote users within a secure environment.
- Should Your Credit Union Monitor and Manage Equipment Internally Or Outsource?
Both your communication equipment (i.e., routers and managed switches) and your security equipment (i.e., firewall) should be monitored 24/7 and managed in order to receive updates and ensure configuration changes are made properly. Additionally, you should consider whether this is a task that is best handled by internal personnel or outsourced to a managed service provider with established processes.
If you are looking to design a telecommunications plan for your credit union, Safe Systems has seasoned WAN and telecom engineers that will guide you throughout the process of choosing WAN carriers and the proper equipment to best fit your institution’s unique needs. There are a lot of choices, and we can ensure you get the right solution for your current and future technology requirements.