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.
Technology is constantly changing before our eyes—even missing a few weeks of tech news could contain the latest info on the development of flying cars, or a sneak peek of Sony’s new gaming console. We’re in a similar situation with the software running on our desktops, phones, and tablets; they are constantly changing.
Update notifications are all around us, but why? In most cases, the changes are just improvements to existing features. However, sometimes updates fix major problems and bugs, and they’re implemented to improve the stability and security of the application or program, which makes you think twice about ignoring the notifications.
Credit unions experience these updates to their core software on a regular basis; however, if a credit union is using old core software, these “updates” can be a real pain. Updates require users to download and install the changes, which takes time. It’s also standard procedure to manually check for updates, which is cumbersome in and of itself. In addition, software updates take up space on the server, and if users fail to install, their credit union will suffer.
Ignoring updates may prevent customer data from remaining secure or reliable. The older the software, typically the less developers are interested in upkeep and maintenance. The original developers may not even be working on the software anymore to develop necessary security patches that keep cores safe. Given the sensitivity of the data stored in credit unions’ core software, data can’t afford to be compromised.
Another problem with running old core software is that credit unions may run into compatibility issues with newer technology. As credit unions continue to invest in more recent technology, they may find that an out-of-date core creates compatibility concerns as systems don’t match up.
For those in the credit union industry, efficiency is key. Utilizing old core software means that features and functionality won’t be as proficient as they could be—ultimately hurting productivity.
New software tends to offer users more options and more opportunities to customize to meet their specific needs. Older cores remain less flexible, meaning that the user interface isn’t as navigable or effective.
Inadequate Disaster Recovery
Without a plan in place, credit unions with old core software may find themselves in a real predicament when disaster strikes or their server crashes. Where will data be stored and will there be any potential data loss? How long will it take before data can be accessed? If the answers to these questions are: yes, there may be data loss, and it may take longer than even a few hours to access, credit unions can expect to have some very frustrated members.
Poor (or No) Customer Service
A solid support staff is key to any great business—software shouldn’t be any different. Old cores may have a limited customer service staff to rely on, or even worse, none at all. So where do credit unions turn for technical assistance? Old developers? In-house IT staff?
At the end of the day, an out-of-date core at your CU prevents you from providing an efficient tool to employees and offering a secure product to members. Having current core software is the bottom line—and it’s vital to the bottom line of your credit union. Not only is your data more secure and reliable with a current core, but credit union employees will be more productive and efficient with core software that runs smoothly. This ultimately translates into great service and improved member satisfaction, which is what it’s all about.
You know those times when you’re working on something real important? Your eyes are glued to that computer screen and your fingers are furiously clicking away at your keyboard as that ominous deadline approaches. It mocks your desperate plea for more time as it creeps up with undeterred determination. Then it happens.
The blue screen of death appears. You know what we’re talking about—your computer just froze and you haven’t saved in hours.
You pray that with a restart, a recovered document will appear. But what if doesn’t? Back to square one.
Yet, what if getting back to square one isn’t quite that simple? The same hopelessness can be felt among credit unions without an adequate disaster recovery plan, except they’ll have a lot of frustrated members to deal with, not just self wallowing because they didn’t hit save.
This could have been the case for Pocatello Teachers Federal Credit Union (now ISU Credit Union). This $17M CU started a June day just like any other—then their core software server stopped working unexpectedly and all access to the system ceased.
With the CU manager at lunch, the rest of the staff started gearing up to deal with the most pressing issues—hand-writing receipts and dealing with members who were understandably less than happy with the situation.
When staff reached Credit Union CEO, Melanie DeLashmutt, on her lunch break, her initial concerns centered on the potential loss of data and accommodating potentially irritated members. Turning to her data processor for help, she immediately called us.
DeLashmutt asked for our assistance with the situation. With a little diagnosis from our support team, it became clear that the server was the problem. CUDP then contacted the manufacturer, and although the system was under warrantee support, the manufacturer indicated that it still might take several days to diagnose and resolve the problem.
Unlike a frozen computer, how do you deal with the potential loss of an entire credit union’s data? What’s more, how do you deal with the challenge of putting a credit union’s business on hold for two to three days? Well, you turn to your disaster recovery plan and hope that the time, effort and money you put into it will now pay dividends.
Fortunately for Pocatello Teachers FCU, CUDP offers, as an available support feature, one of the very best disaster recovery systems in the industry for a very nominal cost. Even though Pocatello Teachers FCU operates an ‘in-house’ deployment of CUDP’s processing system, CUDP replicates all of their credit union’s data to two additional off-site locations, in real time. Once CUDP had been made aware of the situation, they quickly invoked the disaster recovery plan and setup an access to the replicated data at one of the off-site locations. Within 45 minutes of receiving the call, CUDP had established a secure connection for Pocatello Teachers to their replicated data and the credit union was back to business as normal without losing any transactions.
In retrospect, CEO Melanie DeLashmutt, stated “When our server crashed, I feared the worst—lost data, angry and frustrated members, irritated employees, etc. But CUDP had us up and running in less than an hour—with absolutely no data loss. It was really quite amazing!” DeLashmutt went on to add that in all her years in the credit union industry, she had never experienced anything like it.
Hit the save button for your credit union—invest in a comprehensive disaster recovery solution.
Change is good. Change is exciting and optimistic, but change can also be worrisome, stressful, and disconcerting to say the least. A client of ours recently experienced the range of emotions that comes with any change as they converted to our CUProdigy Core Processing System.
Idaho State University Credit Union, which possesses about $130 million in assets, made the transition to our core software earlier this month. In addition to converting to a new core, ISUCU simultaneously merged the members and assets of Pocatello Teacher’s Credit Union as well. Though this was a daunting task for everyone involved, this undertaking was successful due to excellent cooperation and teamwork from the staff at Idaho State University CU and the CUDP conversion team.
Idaho State University Credit Union CEO, Robert Taylor, praised the recent conversion: “Good job and thanks to everyone for their diligence in helping our members this week during the conversion. If this was your first core system conversion, you may not fully appreciate just how well this conversion went. …this was by far the easiest conversion I have ever experienced…my hat’s off to CUDP for how quickly they responded to unforeseen errors that were fixed immediately.”
As a leading provider of credit union software and support, we are excited to add ISUCU and their entire staff to our CUSO. It is our main goal to successfully bring new credit unions onto the CUProdigy System and watch as they offer improved member experience and increase their level of service. Across the board, change proved to be a good thing– this conversion was a total success!
-Craig Peterson, Director of Marketing, CUDP
Late 2012 brought Hurricane Sandy to the shores of the east coast. This catastrophe made a huge impact on the New York area, causing people to lose power for days. Another consequence of this outage was the effect on the credit union branches in the area. Many members lost access to their accounts, and more than 14,000 did not get their usual paycheck deposits in time to pay bills. Truth is, these disasters can strike anytime, which is why it’s vital to be prepared.
Robert McGarvey of the Credit Union Times stated shortly after Hurricane Sandy that “every credit union needs a disaster recovery plan.” We couldn’t agree more, which is why disaster recovery is something that has been our focus from the very beginning. When we started developing our latest core processing software, we did it with the mindset that disasters are always an unexpected event, so the only way to be fully prepared is with an adequate disaster recovery system.
We knew that a DR system needed to be reliable, yet realistic in the face of disaster. Our CUProdigy system provides access to CU information within 45 minutes from any computer that can get an Internet connection. Once connected, every keystroke is replicated in five locations in real time. Between these backup sites, at least one location is more than 100 miles from the credit union, ensuring the safety and protection of your information.
To us, providing this type of reliability and dependability in a core solution is the only way to protect your credit union from those unexpected events. In the event that your credit union is disrupted, you and your members can rest assure as they can continue to make transfers, receive direct deposit, or make a change to their account. Since all of our backups are accessed through the browser, setting up a temporary teller station at a secure location is quick and easy. This type of security is what builds trust to members.
We are all familiar with the phrase, “You get what you pay for.” In other words, the more you pay for something, the better the quality should be. But is it true?
The answer to that question is typically, yes. However, are there some situations where you can get a lot, for less than you thought? If you answered no, then please read on.
When it comes to purchasing a core platform for a credit union, the expenses are always going to be of concern. Not only does the solution need to be purchased, but the hardware (servers, work stations, etc.) requirements can sometimes be as much as the software.
At CUDP we set out to change this. We built our CUProdigy core solution from the ground up with the credit unions in mind, and here’s how:
So, let me ask the question again: are there some situations where you can get a lot for paying less? The answer is yes. Our core solution is here to reduce your costs while still providing a high quality product that provides all of the functionality you need at your credit union. How’s that for a good deal?
Websites and mobile apps all around us continue to try and give us everything at our fingertips in the form of a “dashboard.” Developers know that we continue to strive for easier ways to do things with less clicks, so they continue to give us what we want. Our smartphones are a perfect product of this and they are predicted to pass up the human population by the end of this year! Smartphones continue to make it easier to do practically everything from a single device, without the need of a computer.
Why can’t we have something similar in the credit union industry that makes things like account information more accessible in one place? Member Screens do just that—give you everything (and more!) that you need to manage a member’s account information from one convenient place. Photo or ID verification is available immediately from the Member Screen, allowing for quick confirmation of the member’s identity. A full history is also available for the selected member with images of recent checks and receipts.
From the same Member Screen you can also perform multiple transactions, rather than having to jump to a different screen. With how much we all use the Internet, it’s always a welcomed addition when a site can migrate pages of information into one place. Less clicks and more information in one place is what we want! Instant access to create new accounts from the Member Screens is an additional bonus—again cutting down on the amount of clicks.
Like the rest of our credit union system, the Member Screens are completely customizable. Custom fields and account types can be created to fit your credit union’s solutions preference. The Member Screens can also be customized with a theme that represents your credit union’s colors and brand! This customizability allows you to make our cutting-edge software match your credit union’s technology needs.
This full set of features provides us with an all-in-one Member Screen that simplifies the process of managing a member’s account. With all of this at your fingertips it’s obvious that Member Screen is the next best invention in your credit union system.
Nowadays we’re all about SPEED! We all want to have the fastest car, fastest pizza delivery guy, and of course, the fastest technology. However, technology is where the lines blur, and sometimes we feel like speed is a need rather than a want.
We feel like we need the newest processor in our computers, tablets and now our cell phones as we eagerly await 5G data speed. While browsing the Internet we have adopted the same expectation. Will it ever stop? Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors in computers processors will double every two years. Moore’s Law has been correct as we continue to want and expect speed everywhere we go, but all of this comes at a price as this kind of rapidly processing technology requires an even bigger tunnel to pass data. (more…)
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.