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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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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