'New System Under Construction'

Core conversions require top-notch communication and planning.

January 21, 2011
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CU Mag: What shouldn’t CUs do?

Alexander: Don’t assign just one person to be responsible for all decisions or tasks. This person can quickly become overwhelmed, given their day-to-day responsibilities, and become a bottleneck.

Don’t under communicate or assume everyone knows what’s going on. It’s a big event, and credit unions must be upfront with their staff and members.

CU Mag: How should CUs prepare members?

Alexander: Typically, credit unions use marketing materials and in-branch items so when members come to the credit union, they see there’s something going on.

Credit unions often put together a conversion slogan and use it on their marketing materials and website. They try to communicate the new functionality members will receive as part of the conversion.

McKay: During a recent implementation, the credit union had a whole methodology to let members know the credit union was preparing for a full system implementation. The credit union put some plastic hard hats in its branches, put up “caution” ropes, and posted signs that said, “new system under construction.”

If a member asked about the conversion, staff could respond, “We’ll have a new website, Internet banking, and statements in place to better serve you.” The physical reminders encouraged members to ask questions.

Berdan: Marketing campaigns can be used internally, too. Because this is a challenging and difficult process that takes many months, credit unions should build enthusiasm among staff.

We’ve seen successful conversions become fun because staff can rally around the campaign. Credit unions can have weekly meetings around the “construction” process and keep the staff engaged and enthused.

That’s important because they’re doing their regular jobs in addition to training and their additional conversion duties.

CU Mag: What are some typical stumbling blocks during the process?

Alexander: Failing to understand the significant amount of time and effort the conversion requires. Credit unions must plan for that extra time.

We recommend limiting vacations during the conversion process so all hands are on deck and ready to help.

Data validation also can be a stumbling block. The credit union needs to help us ensure the data is being mapped over correctly. Once we’ve done that we need credit union staff to do some data validation in advance of go-live date.

McKay: We spend a fair amount of time doing test conversions in advance of the go-live date. We go through a full-blown test rehearsal four to six weeks before this date.

We’ve developed a checklist to ensure there’s minimum fallout when we go live. We have people on site to address things that come up during the dress rehearsal.

Next: Unique conversion experiences

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