'New System Under Construction'

Core conversions require top-notch communication and planning.

January 21, 2011
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

It takes more than a tornado to keep these core conversion cowboys down.

But a twister that arrived at a crucial time during a core conversion in Illinois did make Maura McKay realize that even during such a highly scheduled event, “some things aren’t in your control.”

That’s why McKay, vice president, core system implementations at Harland Financial Solutions, and her colleagues—Harland Financial Solutions’ Sharon Alexander, senior manager, implementation services, and Tom Berdan, vice president, product management—work hard to control what they can during the nearly year-long process.

Information Systems Guide
Credit Union Magazine's 2011 Information Systems Guide highlights the credit union movement's top core processors and their systems' features and functions.

They share their core conversion expertise with Credit Union Magazine.

CU Mag: What are some keys to core conversion success?

Alexander: Success depends on the combined efforts of both the credit union and the conversion team.

Effective communication and planning are crucial. We assign a project manager who works closely with the credit union staff to tailor a conversion plan.

Some things we recommend:

  • Set clear expectations with staff at the very beginning;
  • Ensure buy-in to the project schedule and assigned roles and responsibilities;
  • Be upfront with staff about the investment of time and effort that will be required, along with the payoff once the conversion is complete. This will prepare staff for the work that’s coming up.
  • Maintain your commitment to the project schedule once it has been agreed upon, understanding there will be some changes.

Having too many last-minute changes to scheduled events or not meeting key milestone dates has a negative impact on the vendor’s and the credit union’s conversion team.

  • Establish a team of credit union staff from each functional area. We look for staff who are capable and authorized to make decisions for their departments.
  • Plan some internal and external marketing plans so everyone understands the goals and benefits of the conversion. Talk to staff about how the conversion will help them serve members better.
  • Train, and then train some more. Our mantra is, “after training, practice, practice, practice.”

To maximize the training’s effectiveness, the credit union should schedule role play or practice time for staff upon completion of training classes. This reinforces understanding gained during the class by providing opportunities to use their new knowledge.

Next: What shouldn’t CUs do?

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

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.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive