Lots of companies talk about shared vision when they explain their success.
Enhanced Software Products of Spokane can make that claim literally.
Kathy Murray and three partners purchased the Shared Vision software package from Fiserv 18 months ago.
The data-processing software for credit unions had been developed by Triad Systems, a Chicago company Fiserv Inc. acquired in 1989. But Fiserv, a Wisconsin-based giant in information services, couldn’t make money on the product, so in September 1996 officials offered Shared Vision to Murray.
As a sweetener, Fiserv said it would cover any extradordinary expenses for 18 months. On Feb. 27, the net was removed.
“We’ve never used them,” said Murray, who had handled Fiserv’s customer service out of Spokane and Chicago for five years.
She said Shared Vision struggled because 60 employees managed just 57 accounts, and the executives responsible for the package ran up huge travel bills commuting to Chicago each week.
Enhanced Software opened with just 16 employees, Murray said, and not one Shared Vision client dropped out because of the ownership change.
Nor has there been any falloff in service.
“I get no complaints,” said Murray, who added that Enhanced Software did not recruit any new accounts during its first year so it could focus on existing clients and needed upgrades to Shared Vision.
“In this last year we’ve completely turned the product around,” she said.
With work completed on the fundamentals, Murray said Enhanced Software officers are preparing for the next stage of development.
She said a Dutch firm has been hired to convert Shared Vision to the graphical-user interface look characteristic of programs like Windows 95.
“That is really going to put us up competing with bigger businesses,” she said. “We wanted to come out with something that looks the best it can.”
Meanwhile, an in-house team is nearly finished with upgrades to Shared Vision that will eliminate bugs expected to crop up as internal computer calendars hit the year 2000.
Murray hopes modifications will be ready for delivery to all customers after a four-month test period.
And on Jan. 1 Enhanced Software hired its first sales manager, adding a 10-by-20 booth for trade shows.
“We want to go out with a splash,” she said.
Murray said Enhanced Software, like its credit union customers, wants to be current technologically without losing the human touch.
Clients can call in seven days a week, 24 hours a day to discuss a problem with an employee instead of a pager, she said. That access is particularly important for the handful of credit unions that don’t do their own books, but rely instead on Enhanced Software on a day-to-day basis, she said.
Murray added that the company expects to grow that business as computer systems wear out and state-of-the-art equipment becomes too expensive for small credit unions.
Enhanced Software has also installed an audio system that responds to telephone account inquiries in the Ukrainian language for four credit unions in the Midwest and New York serving those ethnic clients, she said.
Murray said the company is pondering other innovations, like mobile branching and Internet banking.
With the former, she said, credit unions knocked out by events such as an ice storm could conduct business from anywhere using laptop computers.
Combined with new loan products, a representative could extend credit to would-be car buyers at an auto show, she said.
But Murray said she does not want to undertake anything that will create a surge of growth, then a letdown.
“At all costs, I do not want to lay anybody off,” she said.
“We’re not No. 1 in your life,” she said she tells employees. “It’s your family.”
Murray straddles that line herself. Her elder son, Shaun, works at Enhanced Software afternoons when he is not pursuing studies in marketing and management information systems at Eastern Washington University.
Younger son Robert is a student at East Valley High School.
Time away from work is often spent in a golf foursome with husband Mike.
“Pretty much golf is our life,” she said.
Murray said she is looking for a space to relocate Enhanced Software, which shares a building on North Fancher with Output Technology Corp.
Something that will accommodate a 50-percent increase in the staff of 22 over the next five years should be about right, she said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
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