First Steps for a Credit Union Core System Review
Having the right core processing system is one of the most important components of running an efficient credit union. However, sometimes it feels like technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to keep up. Also, the task of changing core processing systems can be complicated and time-consuming. These are just a few reasons many credit unions continue to use outdated core systems.
Here are some first steps to help you begin searching for the ideal core processing system for your credit union:
- Begin Researching Vendors and Fact-Finding. There are a variety of resources you can use to begin researching core system vendors. Callahan & Associates performs a highly respected yearly evaluation designed to help credit unions choose core processing systems in their Annual Core Processors Market Share Guide. You can review news sources such as the Credit Union Journal and the Credit Union Times, join local and virtual credit union communities online, visit core processor websites, and refer to your local credit union league.
- Know what you’re looking for. What features are necessary for your credit union to thrive? According to recent research and analytics from Callahan & Associates, adaptability, user-friendliness, and seamless core integration are the top three functions credit unions desire. Knowing what you want from a core processing system from the beginning can help you identify potential solutions.
- Identify vendors that serve credit unions your size. Core vendors that specialize in credit unions your size often make the best fit because they tend to understand your wants and needs, and their service is more likely to be priced in accordance with your budget. Identify other credit unions similar to the same size as your credit union and make a list of the vendors they use.
- Network. The credit union industry is built on collaboration. Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of your peers and see what they've liked and disliked about the core system they currently run. In addition to connecting with those credit union leaders in your direct network, consider trying other channels such as credit union forums/listservs.
- Connect with vendors at league meetings. In light of the events of 2020, there haven't been many in-person league meetings, however, virtual meetings and conferences have become available. These meetings are a great opportunity to connect with vendors to ask what makes their system unique or different in the marketplace.
- Create a "Wish List". Create a list of products and features you are most interested in. This might be a list of items where your current core system falls short along with extremely crucial areas to your credit union's operations. The wish list should be simple so you can easily compare vendor responses and observations. However, consider obtaining input from all operational areas of your credit union, such as member services, lending, back office, etc.
- Gather vendor and core processor information. Collect the necessary information about the vendors you are considering. Most suppliers have regional sales representatives that will be in charge of your specific state. Gather names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc.
- Culture and philosophy. Choosing a provider is a big commitment, so you want to make sure you find a company with a culture and philosophy that you can get behind. Visit the vendor’s website and ask the appropriate questions to get an accurate idea of their company culture.
Implementing new core processor technology at your credit union may seem like a big undertaking, but breaking it down into smaller steps makes it much more manageable and helps to keep you on track. Learn about one credit union's core review process in our case study below.