The Right Tools = A Stress-Free Core Conversion

Since the beginning of the computer era, data processing systems have been at the “core” of every business model, not just for credit unions.  There are many reasons why data processing conversions might be needed.  With proper planning anything is possible and that includes a dynamite core conversion.  This guide is designed to help credit unions successfully maneuver a data processing conversion, but could really be used to help any business navigate that change. 

Our guide uses a 12 month timeframe as a starting point to prepare for conversion; however this can be customized to fit what works best for the user. The cost to complete this project is mainly the time put in by the employees who assemble the core conversion team.  After the process has been completed, you will have a core processor that meets the needs of your members and your credit union.  This core should be aligned to grow with your credit union and allow for efficiencies that may reduce the cost of manpower. 

Following the simple steps in the guide will make the process easier, but will also complete the due diligence that is required.  The steps included in the guide are as follows:

Assembling your Core Evaluation Team: 
Your team should be made up of individuals from each area of your credit union that can meet at least once a week.  These individuals should be ready to give honest and helpful feedback regarding the data processing systems.

Annual Review of your Current Core Processor:
Giving your system an annual review is the best thing that you can do to make sure that it meets the needs of your members and your credit union. 

Discovery Spreadsheet or Wish List: 
What does your team want from a new core processor?  Where does your current core processor fall short?  What are the things that a new system needs to have in order to make it the right choice for your credit union?  These items will be specific to your credit union.  Take some time to evaluate your mission, vision and core values.  PCM Credit Union’s information can be found here.    

Creating your Pool of Candidates: 
Evaluate what systems are currently available and get some preliminary information from them.  Do some market research

RFP’s and Reviews: 
You will want to send out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the candidates that you selected.  This will give you information on what those vendors can offer you and also give the vendor an idea of what you will require from them during the demos. 

After reviewing the RFP’s, narrow your results down to 2-5 possible vendors. 

Preparing for Demos: 
This is the part where you do your research.  Request demos from the 2-5 vendors that you have chosen and let them know what you expect to see. 

Peer Analysis Review: 

Peer review is by far the most important part of this guide.  Contact the references that the vendors give you, but create some of your own contacts as well.  This is where the wonderful world of credit union networking comes into play.  Ask questions, get the pros and cons, and don’t be afraid of the answers.  Your credit union peers will be honest with you.  We are all here to help each other succeed so don’t be afraid to use your resources.

Making the Decision:
You’ve got all the information.  Now you need to make the choice of what system is the best fit for your credit union, both now and for future growth. 

The Aftermath (Conversion Planning):  Congrats! You’re on your way to a new core processor.  Your new vendor will give you an estimated conversion timeline.  They will assign a team to work with your internal conversion team to complete the process and train your staff.  

With an electronic guide of the items listed above and sample PDF documents to get you started, the process really can be painless. Look for sample documents in future blog posts. 

Conclusion: This may be a simple concept, but one that is very much needed today in our world of compliance and regulation.  My hope is that others will find this useful for their conversion and that I can help fulfill the “People Helping People” philosophy. 

I look forward to sharing this journey and this guide with anyone who would like to utilize it once it has been completed.  If you would like more information please contact me.

Thanks for reading!

Kandi Thiry