Credit unions are known for providing superior member service and living the People Helping People philosophy each day. But how is that service delivered? It is important to hire member-focused staff and to offer digital platforms and services to meet member needs. But what fuels all of these interactions and functions?
A credit union’s core processor is effectively the digital brain of a credit union. All operations connect back to the core, where all member data lives. Core migrations and conversions are significant undertakings under normal circumstances. Add in a merger, and the complexity grows even further, as member data from two credit unions must be combined on a single core. It is important to understand the terminology and considerations in embarking on a migration or conversion.
Migrations vs. Conversions
It isn’t every day that a core migration or conversion takes place. Knowing this infrequency, it isn’t surprising that the nuances between these two terms are often misunderstood.
- A core migration is the movement of member data from an existing core platform to the same core software. For example, a migration could occur if a credit union moves from an in-house core (managed onsite at the credit union) to a hosted core solution (outsourced to a service provider), and the in-house and hosted core software are the same.
- A core conversion is the movement of member data from an existing core processor to a new, completely different platform, usually offered by a different vendor. Shares, loans, GLs, jobs, and other files are carefully analyzed, and special code must be written to map the data from the legacy system to the new system.
A merger is an agreement between two credit unions to combine into one single credit union. In addition to the steps required in a migration or conversion, a merger requires the two credit unions to inventory the systems and processes each possess, determine what needs to be kept, and to decide which parallel processes will be combined into one unified process.
There’s a lot to consider. Below are our top five tips when embarking on a migration or conversion:
1. Gather Information:
Beginning with a discovery process that includes a survey of all products and services, inclusive of accounting practices, helps identify where differences lie. Obtaining staff input also can help identify pain points and areas of improvement to address during the merger process
2. Make Sure It’s Functional and Integrated:
Regardless of the core selected, it must have functionality and clean integration with the ancillary software that enables a credit union to offer today’s digital banking services.
3. It Has to Be Secure:
Vast amounts of sensitive member information are housed on the core. With cybersecurity a top, necessary focal point for financial institutions (or any business in possession of digital, personal data), ensuring your member data is secure and protected is essential.
4. Put the Proper Infrastructure in Place:
Core technology is built on different types of code and software languages. Credit unions that choose to keep their core platform in house must ensure they have staff versed in the proper software language as well as the time and expertise to keep up with software changes and updates. Outsourcing ensures a core platform is properly managed and maintained without having to hire specialized employees.
5. Partner for Service and Support:
For a migration or conversion to be successful, it is critical that a credit union has strong support—before, during, and after the migration or conversion—from a partner vested in their best interests.
“Have a dedicated staff from top to bottom,” stated Susie Thibeault, Team Leader – Operations at Synergent. “For a successful migration or conversion, it is so important to have a focus on database validation, and to host training and practice sessions. Credit unions also should consider what kind of service they will receive after a conversion or migration is complete.”