Introducing Thomas, Chief Digital Officer at Visions FCU
For this customer spotlight, we’re happy to introduce you to Thomas P. Novak, VP/Chief Digital Officer at Visions Federal Credit Union. Visions was founded over 50 years ago by eight IBM workers who invested $5 a piece. That $40 has grown to more than $5 billion in assets—and today, the credit union serves more than 210,000 members across three states.
Thomas has been a part of the Visions team since 2012 when he came on board as branch manager. Today, he’s helping the credit union bring its digital-first vision to life—overseeing all digital banking, payments, and secure platforms, including DocuSign.
We talked to Thomas about his people-centered approach in a technology-filled role, the credit union’s transition from the analog world to digital, and the role DocuSign played in helping Visions keep business moving during the COVID-19 crisis.
That's quite an interesting career trajectory you’ve had—from branch manager to leading the credit union’s digital transformation department. How has digital evolved at Visions?
We're probably five times as big as we were in terms of department size. In terms of assets, we’ve gone from close to $3 billion when we started our digital transformation to over $5 billion. We have a pretty clear vision of how we can become a digital-first organization—and I get to be a part of that, which is pretty exciting.
Why is digital transformation important for you?
Digital is the best way to connect with the people and communities we serve. If not for digital technologies like DocuSign, we wouldn't have been able to run our business or serve our members when the pandemic hit. Because we’d invested in DocuSign, we were able to pivot on things like our COVID relief programs literally within days—without blinking an eye. That, to me, is what digital transformation is about.
How was transitioning your members to this new way of doing things? Were there any challenges?
It was a welcome change. Some members were surprised by how easy it is. The feedback in more technology-forward markets was it’s about time. Employee resistance was a bigger hurdle. It took a while to reach critical mass.
What adoption strategies were most successful for you? Do you have any advice for other companies that are just getting started with DocuSign?
I truly believe that somebody needs to be the champion—whether that's an individual leader or a particular department in an organization. E-signature is phenomenal, as we all know, but in today's day and age it's kind of become a little bit of table stakes. If you only look at DocuSign to do electronic signatures you're going to miss out on the transformational piece. So, somebody has to own it and see that potential and help evangelize it across the organization because it solves so many challenges.
What did your agreement processes look like before?
It’s kind of embarrassing to say now, but everything was fax-based. We’d print, sign, scan these PDFs with deteriorating images. It was just a very difficult, clunky process that was ripe for errors. Fast forward to DocuSign: Everything became more seamless, efficient, trackable, and—most importantly—secure. We’ve also reduced our turnaround time [for getting signatures back] by more than half.
Thinking about security and compliance—that's a huge priority in financial services, of course—how did that shape the decision to become an early adopter of DocuSign Monitor?
We felt Monitor was a step in the right direction to get us more aligned with leading cybersecurity frameworks such as NIST. It has always paid dividends for us to be in that first echelon of clients adopting new services—and we tend to be able to find really important ways that those early adopter opportunities translate into real world business results.
What are some of the features that are most exciting to you and the team?
One of the things out of the gate is the IP address tracking. That's the type of granular-level data that we really didn't have before—and it’s a key piece that’s going to evolve our cybersecurity prowess and risk mitigation.
What does the future look like for Visions FCU—and how does DocuSign fit into it?
The future for Visions is taking that next step—not simply digitizing an analog process but transforming it. Three or four other partners we work with are integral to that going forward, but DocuSign is the centerpiece of that transformation—because we can't enable the vision unless we have DocuSign.
Read more about Visions FCU’s member-centric digital transformation.