'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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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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