Always be prepared with questions. Whether it's asking the appliance salesperson 20 questions about the efficiency of a new microwave or presenting your spouse a list of questions about the restaurant they picked for dinner, the right questions can save you from being unpleasantly surprised. Being prepared with questions will serve you well and help you make important business decisions, especially during a credit union core system review. If you are not challenging the presenter and technical staff on a demonstration of their services, you are not ready to go through a conversion. The more questions you have, the more you have taken the time to truly consider what you like about your current core technology, what is lacking, and what you need versus what would be a "nice to have, but not necessary."
Here is a list of questions to get you started. Before a demo, review this list, and try to come up with more follow-up questions that relate to your credit union's challenges.
1. What data analytics do you have? You can't manage what you can't measure. If your core does not provide you with robust reporting and information on both internal systems as well as in depth member analytics, you are not maximizing the potential for growth in your base.
2. How friendly is the UI? Learning curves are difficult. A complicated user interface extends the learning curve not only for new employees but anytime new features are added. If even seasoned vets would struggle with the UI, imagine teaching an entire staff all at once and the difficulties that will arise during implementation.
3. Do you have dashboards for executives and your board? Not every piece of data is relevant, or appropriate, for every set of eyes. Customizable dashboards for various positions within your CU with the information they need at their fingertips is crucial to business intelligence.
4. How smooth are the workflows in the LOS? Loans are the lifeblood of your credit union. Does the loan origination software in the core provide workflows that speed up the process to close? DocuSign has found that electronic document flow with e-signature, for example, can reduce loan processing time in credit unions by 80%. Most of this reduction is a result of the time it takes for the borrower to sign the documents, with 91% of loan docs being returned in less than 10 minutes, and 66% in less than 5 minutes of sending.
5. What automation will your system bring me that I might not currently have? It's estimated that 40% of jobs will be replaced by AI and automation by the year 2030 according to a report by PWC. Prepare your credit union to stay ahead of the curve, not by replacing employees, but by ensuring that as you grow, the core you have in place can work to ensure your 'members per full-time employee' ratio stays in check, and you are able to handle more members without additional expenses. Automation within your core is key to that.
6. How can the core data be leveraged for marketing purposes? This answer should combine the responses from the analytics you receive from your system as well as the automation available. If your core has the power to take member data and automatically generate marketing activities based on their account activities, you have a powerful tool to grow your membership.
7. What 3rd parties can be eliminated with your core platform? Many small and medium-sized credit unions don't have the personnel or time to manage many different 3rd party relationships. Choosing a core that has a complete, end-to-end solution will make life much easier for credit unions of this demographic.
8. How easy is it to integrate 3rd parties through your API? While having natively integrated apps makes your core stronger, it cannot be expected to do so with every app your CU may want. However, if it is easy to add a third party app via simple API connections and offer support through the process, then you have hit the jackpot for core efficiency.
Your time should not be wasted by a product demo. You should be able to walk out of the meeting or call with a very clear understanding of the pros and cons of the solution you were presented with.