HAPO Community Credit Union
This Washington State-based credit union has 140,000 members in 18 offices across two states. To support its centralized IT policy it has implemented Citrix solutions that enable it to save six full-time equivalent jobs and thousands of work hours.
Widely Distributed Environment
Although HAPO offers many financial and banking services, it is not a bank in the traditional sense. Based in Washington State, it is a credit union, a member-owned-financial cooperative, controlled by its members with the primary focus of continually providing value for those members.
This is a widespread organization with approximately 435 employees and 18 branches across two states and it serves 140,000 members within Washington State and the Oregon counties of Umatilla and Morrow.
HAPO provides centrally based IT services for all its locations, delivering and managing applications from two production data centers at Richland and Kennewick – the second to soon be relocated to Vancouver. However, with a very small IT staff, HAPO was experiencing the perfect storm that hits many similar organizations – too much to do and too little time.
“We were running around scatter-brained half of the time just trying to do the day-to-day work,” says HAPO Principal Network Engineer, Robert Carter.
More Efficient Workflows
Solutions were needed that would increase productivity, boost business efficiency and streamline workflows and HAPO chose Citrix. The application virtualization software Citrix XenApp was implemented to enable staff to share Windows applications and desktops, delivering local services without the necessity of installing them. “It solves all the problems we have with people using applications across nine cities and two states. It enables us to get applications delivered to them and provide centralized management with the security of keeping our data in the data center. The alternative would be deploying single apps on all the desktops out there and that is just not viable.”
Also, network products from the Citrix NetScaler stable were brought into play but the main implementation was the secure file sharing tool, Citrix ShareFile. “We chose ShareFile because it is the de facto solution for secure file sharing, and exchange,” says Carter. “Also, we are trying to get away from the dangers of doing document transmittal via email and ShareFile enables that. Credit union employees are now starting to use it to pass documents back and forth, both internally and with members.”
Saving of Six FTEs
“The bottom line is that this whole place runs on Citrix. Without Citrix, this would be a very painful operation and again it comes back to our ability to manage people scattered all over the place from a central location. There is nothing fancy about what we do here but all the classic use cases of Citrix apply perfectly to this business.”
Running Citrix solutions also helps HAPO’s financial bottom line with Carter estimating that the alternative would be to employ at least six more Full-Time Equivalents (FTE) with a wages bill amounting to thousands of dollars.
“There are also enormous savings in time when you can centralize the management of your applications and the upgrades,” he adds. “I just would not be able to guess at the number of hours that saves. If we were pushing applications to desktops and running them locally for over 400 users it would just take up all of our time and we would have to have more people.”
Specialized Implementation Partner
Having taken the Citrix decision, HAPO needed the assistance of a Citrix specialist partner to both implement and troubleshoot its solutions. It chose Right! Systems with whom it has had an ongoing 16-year relationship.
“When I first started working with Right! Systems my knowledge of Citrix was very limited, so I leveraged them to help me architect out and define some of the best practices and some of the ways we needed to build the systems out,” says Carter. “When we were doing our latest Citrix ShareFile deployment, we called them in to do most of the build out of that system because we just didn’t have enough hands to do what we needed to cover.
“We are a small staff organization and I take advantage of the fact that I can compartmentalize and push projects off to Right! Systems to do. Also, if we have any day-to-day technical issues that we want some assistance with we will pull them in. We now have them under contract so if we have too much going on or things are broken we quickly call them in. They work both sides of the fence for us – both on initial deployments and on break-fix.”
HAPO’s relationship with Right! Systems goes deeper than just fixing problems. They have discussions about emerging technologies and the direction that HAPO might want to take; about how they can make better use of Citrix and how new solutions may integrate with existing products. Right! Systems also facilitates communications between HAPO and Citrix, putting them into contact with the right people and ensuring that they get support.
The long collaboration between HAPO and Right! Systems is notable in the IT industry where such relationships are often short-lived.
“There are so many moving parts in the credit union from a technology perspective and with really small staff, trying to be an expert and keep up with all of them is a big challenge,” says Carter.
“You need to pull in help to get it solved and that’s why it’s great for us to know that we have the expertise and knowledge of someone like Right! Systems who is doing Citrix 24x7x365 at the other end of a phone when we need it.”
HAPO has recently embarked on the huge implementation of a new core banking system and has again called on Right! Systems to solve some technical issues.
Carter concludes: “You can’t waste too much time trying to deal with a problem yourself when you can pull in help to get it solved. You have to do a reality check and realize that you just don’t have the time to spend on it and that’s when we pick up the phone to Right! Systems.”