‘No Such Thing’ as an Easy Core Conversion

If you let things slide, you risk ‘having a wave come over your head.’

January 03, 2011
KEYWORDS conversion , core , cu
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CU Mag: Why do delays occur?

Casagrand: Sometimes with smaller credit unions it’s a lack of resources. But the biggest reason for delays is when the project manager fills a key role at both the credit union and the conversion process—everything has to flow through him or her.

That’s a big stumbling block because it creates a bottleneck.

Bilke: You set up the conversion as a series of tasks and events. If you start deferring those either because you’re not ready to make decisions or your key decision maker isn’t available, then everything starts sliding toward that immovable date. That’s when credit unions get in trouble.

During the five years I’ve been at Symitar, we’ve done about 130 conversions and only one credit union has asked to push back its conversion date. It’s rare.

CU Mag: How can CUs maintain staff’s motivation during the conversion process?

Casagrand: I encourage the CEO or chief information officer to bring in the stakeholders and the conversion team to get them excited from day one.

You need to keep up the conversion team’s morale, so we suggest the credit union create a theme for each conversion.

Bilke: The data part is pretty straightforward—we’ve been doing this a long time. But it’s challenging to get the credit union people on board and engaged and understanding why you’re changing the system and why that’s important to them.

Wrapping the conversion in a theme works wonders for getting everyone on board.

The most common theme, which matches with the nine-month conversion timeline, is having a baby. A lot of credit unions have sports themes, CSI, and Star Wars.

I like to call the credit union CEO a day or two after the system goes live and see how things are going. We want to have as few post-conversion issues as possible.

The CEOs often tell me it’s so quiet and calm that they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Next: Advice for CUs

One source for a conversion story?

mike lawson
January 13, 2011 12:18 pm
Hey Bill:
This was a very informative story, thank you. If there's a similar article coming up, can there be more sources than experts from one company? It would be interesting to see the differences in their responses.

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Bonus coverage

Bill Merrick
January 14, 2011 10:37 am

This is one of a few "online extra" articles we published in addition to our annual Information Systems Guide and the main core conversion feature from the December Credit Union Magazine, "Building a better core."

Thus the one source.

Here are a couple more online extras that address core processing:
* "It's more than the core" and
* "Don't get dust in the server and other core conversion lessons."


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