As we enter March, the end of the first quarter of 2016 is in sight. A core system conversion may have made it on the calendar for many credit unions this year. There’s no time like the present to start preparing because before long it will be time to implement and start planning for 2017. If your credit union is planning a core technology conversion, the task can appear daunting, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
When approaching a credit union core system conversion, CUs should reflect on how much more efficient they will become when front-end operations are tied to back-end operations. After all, this is why a credit union would commit to a core system conversion in the first place. In addition, credit union core system conversions have the potential to create efficiencies by utilizing the least amount of time, effort, and cost for any and all intended tasks and purposes with a new system. If certain areas are addressed upfront, then there should be very few obstacles along the way. Let’s take a look at the three "Don'ts" during a conversion - potential challenges to be mindful of during this process:
(1) Don’t Limit Options. Conversions are challenging, the wrong approach is to try to make your new system become your old system. You left for a reason, embrace what the new has to offer even if in the beginning it feels uncomfortable. In preparation for conversion map out your daily procedures, list reports you use and ensure you know how to complete these and other required tasks prior to completing training. Additionally, ensure your staff takes training seriously, nothing could be worse than feeling lost when the lights go 'on' for your new system.
(2) Don’t Limit Talent. The short book Who Moved My Cheese is a must read for every credit union management team in preparation for a core conversion (you've probably already read it). The reality is change will happen and to successfully navigate a core system change your staff will need to anticipate the change (train), monitor the change (review and re-train), adapt to the change (find new ways of doing old things) and enjoy the change (embrace the new system). Involve your staff in the preparation and planning process and ensure that each function of the credit union has leadership and is accountable to the conversion. If the conversion is led only by the senior management team there may be trouble gaining 'buy-in' from front-line staff as early challenges are encountered. You most likely have a skilled staff, don't limit their abilities by not including them.
(3) Don’t Second Guess Yourself. Conversion is over, now what? It’s not uncommon for operational business experts to feel frustrated after a credit union core system conversion. Especially when members are uncomfortable with new systems and processes in addition to your staff. Before you announce the conversion a failure, recall the efforts you made in making your selection, the process you went through (demonstrations, site visits, etc.) and ask yourself "Was Rome built in a day?" Of course not. You most likely made the correct decision, the way to ensure that it remains the right choice is to commit to the conversion process and become a partner with your core technology processor. Use the resources that are provided to you including trainers, support staff, documentation, webinars and the core processors on-line knowledge base. If your core processor doesn't provide these resources, maybe you did make a wrong decision...