Building a Better Core

Employee involvement is an essential part of a successful core conversion.

December 01, 2010
KEYWORDS conversion , core
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Seven Tips for a Smooth Core Conversion

Bill McFarland, managing director, Cornerstone Advisors, offers advice for orchestrating a successful conversion:

1. Get organized up front. A conversion’s fate is largely determined in the first 60 to 90 days. “Get the right people on the right teams with the right plan,” McFarland advises.

2. Write up a plan. Put in writing who’ll do what and when. Later, you might need to add tasks or shift dates. But try to stick to the plan.

3. Involve multiple departments. In Cornerstone’s experience, about 80% of what must get done in a core conversion isn’t technology-specific. Technology expertise is critical, but conversions must tap into diverse skills and experiences among your credit union’s staff.

4. Communicate to members. McFarland has seen what happens when credit unions don’t give members enough information about the changes they’ll see after a conversion. “The call center gets clobbered with questions,” he says.

5. Test rigorously. Texans Credit Union, for example, held three mock core conversions.

6. Allow enough time. A core conversion should take about nine months, plus or minus three months.

7. Maintain focus after the conversion. Conversions are hectic, and sometimes credit unions put off certain tasks, figuring they’ll attend to them later.

“We noticed a pattern,” McFarland says. “We go back 90 days later and find out certain things didn’t get done. So we think a post-conversion review at 90 to 180 days is a good idea.”

•  Aite Group, Boston: 617-338-6050
•  Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz.: 480-423-2030
•  Credit Union National Association:
1. Celent Research Reports
2. Credit Union Magazine’s 2011 Information Systems Guide
3. Technology & Spending Survey Report
•  FIS, Jacksonville, Fla.: 888-323-0310
•  Harland Financial Solutions, Lake Mary, Fla.: 800-989-9009
•  Share One, Memphis: 800-888-0766
•  Symitar, San Diego: 888-796-4827

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