Credit union IT directors and administrators fear it. At times, it may keep them up at night. However, it doesn’t have to. The dreaded core processing system conversion can be a relatively smooth transition.
If your organization has a good plan from the start, it can weather the storm and land on dry ground during and after a core conversion. Here are seven reasons why a core conversion isn’t as overwhelming as you think:
Every aspect of a core conversion deserves careful preparation, which includes “what if” scenarios. While no core conversion will take place completely devoid of snags, dealing with a challenge is so much easier if you’ve already prepared for it ahead of time.
Remember to open your mind to what could go wrong. This is one area where letting your imagination run wild is a good thing.
The more structured your core conversion deadlines are, the better. Will some of those deadlines ebb and flow? Sure. That said, having an evidence-based timeline rooted in the information at hand will provide vital structure and keep employees churning toward mini-goals within the larger framework of the system conversion.
Choosing a core processing provider that has a knowledgeable support team is essential. For example, if your provider is a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO), then you’ll benefit from a certain level of industry expertise — and piece of mind — from start to finish of your conversion.
If your staff is trained well and is helped to understand why your core conversion matters, the process will thrive. Seemingly small but actually key components of team building for core conversions include:
The growth of cloud services and new technologies has driven increased flexibility in core processing systems, which is creating an atmosphere of less pressure before, during, and after core conversions. Credit unions have room to change their minds and/or adapt to rapidly shifting trends much more easily than ever before — even during a conversion.
Keeping a core system up-to-date and in compliance with federal regulations is easier than it used to be, thanks in part to the influx of digitally available resources. Easy-to-use tools regarding cyber security and much more are online, just waiting to be utilized. These are excellent for learning, double-checking and sparking new ideas.
With a core provider such as CUProdigy, which is a CUSO, credit unions have the opportunity to literally take ownership. It’s an investment in the future of the industry, as well as a natural way to instill a greater sense of control during your core conversion.
By taking ownership of their movement toward new technologies and a future-proof architecture, many credit unions are finding unique confidence and ease of use throughout their core conversions.
Cloud-based credit union core processors are quickly becoming more of a necessity than a wish list item. New technologies can improve both the member and employee experience, but they’re only feasible atop a core infrastructure that is agile and cost-effective.
Here are five ways an old core can be a liability for your credit union:
Not unlike a house, you don’t want to build a credit union core on an unpredictable foundation. Many legacy core processing systems were orchestrated long before the Internet took off, back when internally initiated transactions were the main concern. Today’s credit union core must account for direct interaction with members, too.
It’s difficult to justify paying for a lot of emerging technologies and next-wave services unless the underlying infrastructure is apt to handle an escalating load.
An old, outdated credit union core simply can’t accommodate one of the most essential aspects of networking: agility. With existing technologies constantly evolving and new services emerging practically every day, a productive core is one that can be integrated with new partners and services quickly and efficiently.
Truly responsive implementation of technologies that make life easier for credit union employees and members is only feasible with a modern-day core. The older and more outdated your traditional core system becomes, the more unlikely it is that it will be able to facilitate major changes.
On several levels, staying with an old core can be a liability to your credit union’s budget. The amount of man-hours spent trouble-shooting an outdated and equipment-heavy core can be drastically reduced by transitioning to software-based solutions.
Besides saving money on man-hours, hardware, installation and even seat license costs, credit unions also can leverage an updated core and new technologies to boost their member base and retain their best employees.
For many credit unions, the uncommon but potentially crippling liability is the scariest one of all. Executives at such organizations constantly fear the effects of an IT disaster — effects such as livid members, lost data, and fed-up employees.
The older and more outdated the core, the longer it likely will take to get your operations up and running again. Meanwhile the clock is ticking on involved parties’ patience and threshold for pain.
A browser-based recovery system can restore a credit union’s system much more quickly than traditional cores — and prevent data loss in the process.
Modern-day commerce is rife with security concerns, as malicious hackers constantly change their tactics in adaptation to security trends. Attacking the information that flows within a credit union’s network is now just as popular as trying to intercept the data that travels in and out.
Rather than old core systems, it takes next-generation firewall technology to protect precious member information that is traveling in all directions.
Overall, converting to a cloud-based core processing system is one of the best ways to ensure your old core is not a liability.
Deploying a new core system for your credit union can be daunting, to say the least. However, developing a rock-solid core conversion roll-out plan at the very beginning of the process can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth transition for everyone, from your members to your staff and executive team.
Here are several well-proven tips for how to create a core conversion roll-out plan:
Detailed, well-crafted core conversion timelines are only as good as an organization’s ability to follow the plan and keep the staff engaged. It’s imperative that team members remember when important deadlines are approaching, as well as when and why those deadlines must be adjusted.
Problems arise when employees encounter unclear directions. Without the details necessary to complete each step and process, people begin guessing — and there’s no room for guesswork during a core conversion project.
A modern-day marketing plan for a core systems conversion should take advantage of the broad communication toolkit that credit unions have at their disposal.
Essential elements of a core conversion roll-out marketing plan include:
Any switch to new core software will directly and deeply impact staff, which is why your credit union’s employees will need mandatory training sessions set up months in advance. They need advance notice so they can make the necessary vacation adjustments, and you need plenty of time to formulate the best type of education for your employees.
There’s no way around it: Regardless of how well you and your team prepare, your core conversion will be met with negative feedback. How you address customer frustration most certainly will affect member retention and the reputation of your organization.
From social media responses to phone conversations, presenting a united front with completely consistent messaging from all corners of your organization is an important part of any core systems conversion.
The bottom-line benefits of a core conversion are virtually irrefutable, but the process isn’t without its challenges. If your credit union has a core conversion on the horizon, carefully mapping the steps toward this significant change is essential.
The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to look at the way your credit union does business. By keeping these seven basic resolutions in 2016, your credit union can offer great service to your customers and maintain an ideal working environment for your staff.
With disaster recovery, it’s not a matter of “if”—it’s a matter of “when.” Sooner or later, important data will be impacted by hackers, a natural disaster or plain old user error. Thinking about it now means less panic when it happens. Have a robust, multi-layered plan in place so you can return to business as usual with a minimum of disruptions.
The current economic situation might have left you with a tight budget for 2016. Think about what you can cut without compromising efficiency or data security.
Whether you’re a small local credit union or a large one, good communication is the key to making things run smoothly. During 2016, make a resolution to communicate clearly at all levels of the organization. Clear communication can happen face-to-face in meetings or by other methods, but it needs to happen.
More and more customers are doing their banking on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. If your credit union hasn’t already optimized the user interface to make it just as convenient for small screens as it is for desktop computers, now is the time to make that change.
Cloud-based business solutions can help you run your credit union more smoothly and safely. By moving important functions from office-based physical infrastructure into the cloud, you can enjoy better security, increased efficiency and reduced IT costs.
Especially when you’re going through a big change such as a core conversion, it’s crucial to talk with your staff at each stage of the process. Let them know what’s going on with your credit union and answer their questions honestly.
Your customers may have questions about mobile banking, home banking, bill pay or other aspects of their user experience. Take the time to listen to them and respond to their questions. Consider using live online chat or other methods to encourage communication with customers. Live chat can take some of the pressure off the phone lines.
By taking the time to make smart plans about budgeting, communication, customer service and technology, you can make 2016 more successful than ever.
Making the decision to implement a core conversion can give credit unions a lot to deal with. Among the issues to reconcile is what—and when—to communicate to employees. Certainly employee engagement is important. Helping staff know what to expect can go a long way toward maintaining productivity and facilitating good, ongoing service to members.
Here are 10 things to tell credit union staff members when undergoing a core conversion:
Holding regular meetings is helpful so that you can keep employees updated in small chunks. Each week, let them know what key changes will be coming so they are not blindsided.
Focus part of your weekly meetings on the aspects of your conversion activities that will directly impact how your employees do their jobs.
Clearly identify what members will experience during each phase of the conversion. This is especially critical for people in member-facing positions.
Whether a change impacts employees or customers, let your staff members know how to work around any change or downtime in system functionality. Never just leave them wondering or sitting around with no options to get things done.
When telling staff about what things will change, also highlight what will not change. It can be reassuring to know that some things will be kept the same, but it will also prevent questions about changes that really are not even part of the process.
Any time that a part of your system will be unavailable, even just for a couple of hours, your staff must know. Be as specific as possible about when the downtime will begin so that employees can plan their work accordingly.
Similarly, let staff know how long any lack of system availability will last. Again, this can help team members plan their work and also communicate appropriately to members who may have similar questions.
If a delay occurs, let your employees know as soon as possible that the downtime may last longer than originally expected. Proactive notification goes a long way toward preventing additional problems.
Be as detailed as possible when giving instructions on new systems or features. This will get people working efficiently sooner and keep morale and member satisfaction up.
Your employees will have questions along the way. Make sure they know who to go to in order to get those questions answered.
There really can be no substitute for good communication when undergoing a major change like a core conversion.
Your employees are essential assets for your credit union, and keeping them informed goes a long way toward keeping them with you. When you cultivate engaged employees, you also cultivate satisfied members.
Credit unions still running on legacy systems originally built to meet the batch processing needs of in-branch transactions have to face the daunting task of completing a core conversion. This process can enable institutions to effectively handle the anywhere, anytime request for real-time transactional processing.
The benefits of a core conversion are clear, yet the path to achieving it is not always as simple. Before embarking upon this endeavor, credit union leaders should be aware of some common errors. This can help guide a more efficient transition and result in better outcomes. Here are 10 mistakes to avoid during a core conversion:
Business needs, not technology, should fuel and drive a core conversion while technology supports and facilitates it. Credit union leadership must first identify the processes and end results needed and then let teams, including IT, make it happen.
A full-blown core conversion will involve many stages. Completing these one at a time rather than simultaneously helps teams troubleshoot issues more effectively along the way. When too many changes are made at once, it can be near impossible to identify the root of a problem and to therefore fix it.
Akin to the point above, adding other changes or enhancements while also engaging in a core conversion increases the chance of additional problems.
Every change should be tested as it is implemented and before initiating the next change.
The level of documentation needed in a core conversion is immense but necessary. Skimping here will make solving issues more difficult.
A clear project plan must be put in place up front. This should identify the steps, teams and timelines and be updated in real time as the project progresses.
When it comes to informing members about changes, there is no such thing as too much communication.
No matter how well you communicate ahead of time, members will have questions, and your employees must be able to answer them immediately to avoid grave dissatisfaction issues.
Overloading your customer service and other employees with member questions when they are in the throes of learning a new system can seriously hamper employee relations and engagement.
Even the best system will have problems at some point. Every core conversion plan should include provisions for what to do when this happens.
It is possible to not just survive a core conversion, but also for a credit union to thrive from one. The right foresight and approach will make all the difference here.
CUProdigy is in the unique position to help Credit Unions ‘Advance Beyond’ by providing a core processing platform that puts the member experience first. CUProdigy empowers credit unions with a comprehensive solution that is both robust and scalable.