Technology tools can do amazing things for credit unions, and they are becoming increasingly important in everything you do.

But like any tool, they will only produce positive outcomes when you take the time to understand them, stay vigilant in monitoring their use, and put them to work in the right situations.

Here are three quick insights to help you better leverage technology within your credit union:

1. Understand the Tools. Social media has become a powerful force in the marketplace and can be an important tool in the marketing toolbox.  But the first step is to understand how it works.  The key first step is to recognize that it is a medium for conversation.  That means that to succeed in using it you need to be a real, genuine participant in the conversation–not an intruder broadcasting only messages that can be seen as self-serving.

2. Monitor Usage and Updates. Technology tools evolve quickly, and the model for innovation has become one of “roll out the update and let the users help us improve it.”  Changes in software often take effect before they are announced, and things you have set up on autopilot may stop working without advanced notice.  For example, this blog was set up to automatically post to Facebook and Twitter, and it worked great until the software was updated.  A quick check revealed an easy fix to get it back on track, but without monitoring, it would have been easy to assume it was still working when in fact it wasn’t.

3. Don’t Let Technology Become a Roadblock. Even the best technology solutions can occasionally get in the way, as can the mindset that everything needs a technology-based solution.  For example, a client was recently discussing the need to engage their credit union team in selling additional products and services to their members.  The conversation quickly became focused on how this system didn’t talk to that system and how difficult it would be to track performance.  The danger is obvious: an effort to increase sales was about to be put on hold pending the development of a tracking system.  But in the early days of the initiative, a simple paper and pencil report, or perhaps a spreadsheet, would have worked fine; you don’t need a fancy tracking system until you have something to track.

ACTION ADVICE: Take a careful look at how well you are leveraging technology.  Make sure those who use it understand how it works and what it is supposed to do for the credit union.  Monitor the tools you are using and be on the lookout for updates that require attention to keep the systems you have put into place working.  Be on the lookout for times when technology becomes a roadblock to doing something that could be done simpler and easier by other tools.