As Americans embark on the roads making their annual treks to the beach, mountain, lake or amusement park of choice, the tools to navigate around the traffic jams are as plenty as the orange barrels on the highways. Perhaps your car has a built-in GPS or you plug in with Apple CarPlay navigation. Do you swear by Google Maps, or have you jumped on crowdsourcing with Waze? Whatever navigation tool you use, the goal is to get you to your destination as efficiently as possible. When credit unions review their core system, the goal is to measure efficiencies and defects in the current solution and then go out into the core processing marketplace to see what other vendors can offer. Here are 10 ways to successfully navigate a core system review to get you where you need your credit union to be:
- Teams - Core system review project managers are crucial. Ensure you have a team assembled internally that represents all operational areas within the credit union. You wouldn't want to make a decision that benefits one area of the credit union while simultaneously ignoring another.
- Widen the net - While it is tempting to narrow your search for a new core to just 1 or 2 options you are familiar with, you may be missing out on a provider that more closely matches your needs.
- But don't widen it too much - It is crucial to not over-extend your search. Select 4-5 vendors that you have an initial attraction to - the first impression a vendor makes based on their sales representative, website, and reputation in the industry. Based on the size of your credit union, its focus, budget, needs and wants, the first impressions made by core providers' stated missions, websites, or representatives can quickly help you narrow the field.
- Be true to your wish list - Your team should develop a detailed wish list that contains desired improvements and also identifies the roadblocks they currently face in daily activities. Take this wish list as you look at new core processors. Be sure that these items are addressed during discovery calls and demonstrations. You don't want anything falling through the cracks.
- Dig deep - Research the core's executives, boards, history, and financials. These should be easy to find, not only by your own searches but by simply asking your sales representative. An unwillingness to share could be worrisome.
- Transparency - Information is power. Just as marketing materials and websites can make a roadside motel look like the Luxurious Waldorf, a core provider courting your credit union may exaggerate their capabilities. As important a relationship as this is, be sure you trust the vendor you are working with and they are not afraid to share the financials, missions, successes, and challenges they face.
- Network with peers - Find out from other credit union executives what they have heard about the providers you are looking at. Don't assume one bad experience is telling, as every CUs experience will be different. But if you are consistently hearing negatives about service and support post-conversion, be wary.
- Third parties - Beyond internal core configurations, a conversion involves communicating with an array of third-party services including cards, ACH, ATM, and many other vendors. Be clear about your expectations during your core conversion search on what level you want your core provider to participate in these third-party interactions.
- Visit and Meet - Part of transparency should include a visit to the vendor's corporate office. Take it from North Star Credit Union's executive team who recently underwent a core conversion. As their conversion date drew closer, a visit to the corporate headquarters solidified the relationship with their new technology partner. Spend a few days meeting staff, reviewing conversion details and obtaining a better understanding of the company’s culture. In North Star's case, after meeting the technical support team, they felt reassured of their decision and were able to proceed with their conversion with greater confidence.
Related Article: North Star Credit Union Becomes the North Star of Core Conversions
- Roadmaps - It would be unfortunate to convert your core only to find out they have stopped making the improvements and innovations that are required to keep up with the competitive landscape. Be sure your final choice has a roadmap for future developments, and understand how they intend to continuously improve.