Don't Get Dust in the Server & Other Core Conversion Lessons

Share One CEO finds that sacred cows make delicious hamburgers.

December 23, 2010
KEYWORDS conversion , core , training
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CU Mag: How else can CUs ensure a smooth conversion process?

Tanner: Include as many leaders, decision makers, and influencers as possible in the vendor selection process. One of our clients brought in six people to look at our system. I applaud that because those people will shape not only the selection process but the training and implementation processes consistently all the way through.

These people have other jobs to do. Making them part of this early on not only gives them status in the organization, it makes them much more effective as leaders. And you get better decisions, too. We encourage that.

Once you’ve decided to purchase a system, the CEO has to strongly and visibly communicate that the conversion is important to him or her, to the credit union, to members, and to staff.

The worst thing that can happen is to have someone in the back of the room whining about having to change or do something extra. It drags people down, and puts the complainer in the position to do material damage to the training and conversion processes.

You also need a strong team. This is too big of a project to be delegated to someone with no authority.

Sometimes the CEO will be involved in the decision-making process and then hand it off to the No. 2 person. The danger is that the No. 2 person often is already overburdened, especially if the CEO is heavily involved in chapter or league affairs.

Make sure your expectations are realistic. Don’t expect that the day after the conversion the organization will be transformed and butterflies will sail through the lobby. People will have memory lapses a couple of months after the conversion, or they’ll forget about a form that they now need right away.

If this happens, don’t get disappointed or feel you’ve made the wrong decision. You want to make sure your employees are happy with the decision and the system is solving their problems. It takes leadership to do that.

Have a single point of control. This can be one person or a team. Everyone in the credit union should be aware that this is the person they should go to. This person should have a broad awareness of what the credit union does and who does it so he or she can direct the vendor staff quickly to the right people to minimize wheel-spinning.

Recognize that a system conversion is an opportunity, not just a technology upgrade. Done right, it’s a business transformation project.

Have all key people, as they learn about the new system, evaluate the changes their areas will require. Having a department head involved at this level will allow this person to see changes that need to take place. Then they can help staff make the transition to the new procedure and software.

Our staff works closely with credit union department leaders. This isn’t unique, but it’s essential to support the leaders in the credit union who are facilitating the process.

Do simulation tests. In the old days, we used to run parallel processing. You can’t do this anymore; there are too many electronic transactions coming in.

We’ll select a weekday for which we save all of the batch files, transmissions, and everything else. We schedule a test on a Saturday where we post all of the transactions and batches from that weekday on the new system, and then verify that all of the numbers and accounts match. It’s a time-shifted parallel operation.

This way, staff get to work their way through the transactions on the new system without members standing in front of them. It’s a nice confidence builder—and a legitimate test.

Next: Conversion ‘don’ts'

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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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