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The objective of the Workstream was to establish if collaborative business relationships are recognised as an important business strategy for Irish credit unions and, if so, to develop a structured methodology to underpin successful credit union collaboration.

The workstream members examined the “Collaboration” literature and met with ILCU, CFCFE, CUDA, CUMA, CUAC, and NSF to confidentially gauge their various perspectives on collaboration amongst Credit Unions.

In summary, from the three sources of information presented i.e. Engagement with Credit Union Stakeholders, Collaborative Capacity Self-assessment Survey and three Case Studies, the following conclusions and recommendations are suggested:


  • Credit Unions and Credit Union CEO’s strongly recognize the need to collaborate to protect the sustainability of the credit union movement in Ireland, to provide contemporary services to members and to compete with other financial service providers.
  • There is a lack of understanding of the implications of working successfully within collaborative ventures in Credit Unions.
  • The concept that a formal route to Collaboration is difficult, needs to be dispelled.
  • While innate collaborative characteristics are evident in Credit Union leaders these are not sufficient to deliver a full start to end collaborative process. Other supports are necessary.
  • As most collaborations fail it is advantageous to measure the risks.
  • Risk mitigation is now becoming embedded in Credit Unions. Relationship management risk is the primary cause of the failure of most collaborations.
  • Business model development within Credit Unions can only be achieved with at least some degree of collaboration e.g. with other Credit Unions, suppliers, outsource providers
  • Strategies, including Exit Strategies, need to be embedded in the collaborative process.


  • A culture of collaboration should be fostered among credit unions underpinned by a shared understanding and guided by a central collaboration resource.
  • A Collaboration Central Resource/Co-ordinator should be established [by the
    Working Group], whose role will be shaped by an early phase and a more mature phase.

    • The early focus of the Central Resource will be concentrated on
      • the promotion of a collaborative culture as supported by a structured framework
      • providing and co-ordinating collaboration training
      • engagement with stakeholders to foster strategic collaboration
  • The second phase of the Central Resource’s role will continue to include the
    promotion of structured collaboration but is also expected to evolve the capacity to support delivery of certain initiatives, including provision of project management advice and legal supports and potentially through a CUSO / CUSP dedicated to a collaborative culture among credit unions.
  • Agree to the adoption of a formal approach to collaboration to foster a culture
    of collaboration within credit unions working to ensure successful business model development.
  • This standard ISO44001 is being refreshed currently with the imminent launch of ISO44003 specifically for Micro, Small and Medium size Enterprises. The new version should suit credit unions of all asset size and common bond type.
  • Credit Unions should work together (with support of the Central Resource) to build a collaborative community for Credit Unions. Credit unions can find like-minded partners who are interested and resourced to identify ways to collaborate.
  • The objective of the Workstream was to ‘develop a structured methodology’. Irish credit unions are well placed to benchmark our collaborative ventures against international best practice. The Workstream recognises that ISO 44001/3 provides a roadmap for credit unions interested in formal collaboration to progress their business model development.