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Coast Central CU & Los Angeles Firemen’s CU

Like the majority of corporate information workers, credit union employees are overwhelmed with passwords. In order to perform their jobs, many of them need access to five, ten or even fifteen or more separate systems, all of which require secure logons. With so many passwords to deal with, this naturally leads to confusion and frustration on the part of the credit union’s staff, not to mention the poor Information Systems (IS) departments that must support the users who are constantly forgetting one of their numerous passwords. Fed up with this productivity-killing – but all too common - scenario, two progressive credit unions decided to take positive action to remedy the situation. Coast Central Credit Union (CCCU) and Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union (LAFCU) turned to Stirling Systems to assist them with creating an integrated, single sign-on solution.

The results to date have been impressive: both credit unions report that their employees love the convenience of the single sign-on system and that tedious and time consuming password reset calls to their IS help desks have been dramatically reduced. Glenn Powell, Vice President of IS at CCCU, reports that “our staff was quite frustrated with multiple logons, but now that we have a single sign-on solution in place they are very excited about the system.” George Kings, Vice President of IS at LAFCU, concurs, “morale has really improved and the overall reaction from our employees has been quite positive.”

Both credit unions took a measured and careful approach to the conversion from the old, tedious multiple sign-on environment to the new state-of-the-art single sign-on solution. LAFCU started with two departments in pilot mode, while CCCU tested with a handful of users. Both were pleased to find that the rollouts went smoothly. “The three week pilot worked out really well,” said Mr. Kings, “there were no major technical problems and the system proved to be as beneficial as they promised.” Mr. Powell adds “our implementation went quite well and we were happy to receive really good support from Stirling through a central point of contact.”

A key component of the Stirling Systems’ solution is the use of fingerprint biometric readers. LAFCU installed over 100 SAFLINK fingerprint readers, while CCCU installed them on about thirty personal computers. It is important to note that there are no privacy issues with fingerprint biometrics, since the database does not store the actual fingerprint, merely fifty different points of a person’s fingerprint are stored as a numeric value in a database. Mr. Powell believes that “biometrics makes life a lot simpler for everyone.” “It is a much more secure way to lock down our network,” he continues. Mr. Kings points out that “the single sign-on and biometric solution has certainly increased our internal security levels and this system is seen a real plus for us by the external auditors.”

From an IS staff point of view, the single sign-on solution has been a Godsend. At Coast Central, Mr. Powell runs a small IS department – just two technicians help him support ten branches spread across three Northern California counties. With twenty three years of IS experience, he can speak with confidence when says: “we would have had to increase our IS staff to support password changes if we had not deployed this system.” Mr. Kings, who also has twenty plus years of IS experience, can testify to the system’s value as well: “we have preformed extensive ROI analysis and this system has saved our two network engineers and general staff hundreds of minutes per week which adds up to over $17,000 in saving annually.”

Los Angeles Firemen’s Credit Union has leveraged their system beyond single sign-on to include a more comprehensive use of their installation. “Streamlining our logon process was just one part of our overall philosophy to streamline all of our operations,” explains Mr. Kings. LAFCU uses biometric authentication for digital signatures on electronic documents; for example, their employees and managers now authorize their time sheets with fingerprint biometrics, which adds up to significant time savings for their employees and the Human Resources department. They are also using Adobe E-Forms and Workflow to replace paper documents and increase productivity via electronic workflows between departments at the credit union. SAFLINK provides a sophisticated SDK (software developer’s kit) that helps them insert biometric signatures into their various documents. Just as with single sign-on, the ROI to-date on these workflow improvements is impressive: savings of over $22,000 per year.

Coast Central Credit Union is also quite pleased with the overall results and performance of their system. According to Mr. Powell, “we are always looking for solutions that simplify our employees’ activities and make their jobs easier. This has been a really good system and Stirling put it all together for us.” In complete agreement, Mr. Kings confirms that “Stirling Systems wrote the logon scripts for us and overall the system has performed very well for us – the stability has been excellent.” 

With enthusiastic support from employees, senior management, and IS staff, coupled with excellent ROI and tighter user security, it is should be obvious that single sign-on and fingerprint systems have a bright future for forward thinking credit unions that are willing to make the small effort and investment to install a single sign-on solution.