Change has never been to known to be easy. In fact, there is an entire industry built around change management or the process of preparing your credit union's leaders, boards, employees, and members for organizational change. Change comes in many forms, from navigating a merger or acquisition, to the conversion of core technology on which your credit union relies. While the process of selecting a new core system can be exciting for management-level staff during the initial review process, stress extends throughout the organization during implementation of the new system. Here are tips to address these potential pitfalls before they derail your conversion:
1. First and foremost, address the human side. Don't ignore the fact that everyone knows with change comes uncertainty, and human nature is to be skeptical. As published by Booz & Company for Strategy+Business Magazine, "Any significant transformation creates people issues...Dealing with these issues on a reactive, case-by-case basis puts speed, morale, and results at risk. A formal approach for managing change — beginning with the leadership team and then engaging key stakeholders and leaders — should be developed early, and adapted often." If leadership is 100% on board, and continually communicates and approaches your conversion in an upbeat and positive manner, you put the skeptics and naysayers to rest. By selling staff on the new technology system and hyping it up internally. Their enthusiasm will trickle down to members who will be more patient should they encounter any issues.
2. Delegate a project manager. A clear leader to execute and enforce the project plan is crucial. Although, it should not be an additional responsibility added to a to-do list that's already too long. To minimize the time to completion and ensure nothing gets lost, designate this task to someone in your organization with strong communication and organizational skills, and ensure this is their top priority. Take other items temporarily off their plate until the core conversion is complete.
3. Learn from others. You are not the first credit union to adopt new core technology. Not only will you find credit union peers who recently converted excited to discuss their experience but you will also gain insight into what they did right and what processes did not go smoothly.
4. Train, Train, Train Staff. Training is not only a necessity at the early stages of transition... thorough training at multiple stages of the implementation will give your MSRs confidence. A sandbox system where they can execute transactions using dummy data will give them the opportunity to make inevitable blunders when learning something new in a risk-free environment, and the opportunity do so in front of peers who can help versus in front of members who might not be as understanding.
5. Reward your conversion team. Having a launch party is great but not if in the months leading up to it you have lost team member support and morale. Remember to take time to disconnect from the project and encourage other team members as well. Don't force long hours - be sure they take time to do other things, especially after work. Take Angela's launch party as a learning experience - no one will be excited to attend if they've been overworked leading up to the event. Once you can be certain everything is running smoothly, reward your staff (and yourself) with a vacation after the conversion is complete.
A successful system conversion will take much more coordination than a quick one-day training session for staff to feel comfortable using the new core processing system. Set them up for success by providing ample opportunities to interact with the system and iron out any kinks that may come up in the initial stages of implementation. Allotting them enough time to learn the core before putting them in front of members will boost their confidence, reduce stress, and promote excitement rather than fear. Change doesn't have to be so difficult - managing the conversion process closely will not only leave your credit union well-prepared but it will make conversion easier and more seamless than you thought possible.