Monty Python and the Holy Grail of Credit Union Core Technology
Selecting great credit union core systems is the Holy Grail at the end of a long and difficult road. Fortunately, credit unions undertaking such a quest have an excellent handbook to guide them. No, I’m not referring to the regulators’ handbook. I’m talking about the manual for most of life’s woes – “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.
In this age-old comedy (my apologies to those unfamiliar readers who are not also age-old), King Arthur rallies his knights on a delirious journey to find the Holy Grail. Along the way they match wits with armless swordsmen, decapitating rabbits, vestal virgins, wizards and uncooperative Frenchmen – I imagine not too unlike some of the characters you’ll likely encounter in your review.
As you embark on your journey, consider these questions three:
1) What, is your favorite color?
“Blue…. No, yello --- aaaaaaaaaugh!” Sir Lancelot’s wavering answer famously plunged him into the Gorge of Eternal Peril. Many a credit union has landed in that gorge. The point is, know yourself. Know your needs. Clearly identify what uniquely matters to your organization, and don’t lose sight of it. While it’s important to explore solutions you hadn’t considered, don’t get distracted with solutions to problems that you don’t have. Every solution has its strengths, and every credit union its own priorities. Many credit unions, unknowingly, value operational efficiency over anything else, but few single that out as a review consideration.
2) What is the air-speed velocity of an un-laden swallow?
The answer, of course, is “What do you mean? An African or European swallow?” The point here is, dig deeper. Understand what you’re being sold. Sales and technical professionals, even within your own organization, can turn the simplest of matters into a complex decision, in order to lead management toward the ends that best suit their agenda. Complex RFPs and prolonged consulting engagements only muddy the water. Keep the process simple. Don’t relegate your findings to a document. Get your hands dirty. Explore the software. Do the site visits – before you rule out any particular solution. Trust your intuition and that of your line personnel who actually use the core. Be skeptical of proposed solutions whose merits are based in technical concepts, new technologies or features that you don’t understand.
3) What are you going to do, bleed on me?
Our industry wields third-party products like a sword in the hands of a man with two severed arms. It’s just a flesh wound, we say, pretending these products should work seamlessly, while vendors of such products anxiously perpetuate that myth. The truth is that interfaced systems are limited by definition. They’re interfaced. And, as such, they will never achieve the same degree of efficiency and automation that a comparable set of core system features might achieve. In your core review, focus first on the core. Recognize that third-party solutions are important, but their importance is transitory. Don’t just look for a core that can accommodate third party solutions. Find a core that is evolving to make those solutions unnecessary, with features like mobile banking, internet banking, paperless, check-21 capture, and online credit cards built right into the core.
There are many other stops along the way, but these will get you in the right direction.
Good luck on your quest. Now, go away or I shall taunt you a second time!