Article

The Secret Sauce of a Successful Conversion

Hand adding ingredients to a tomato sauce
By Alison Van Pelt, PMP

2 minutes

Eight ingredients to prep before the main event

The conversion of $3.7 billion Space Coast Credit Union, Melbourne, Fla., to Fiserv's DNA core platform, Brookfield, Wis. and more than 10 surrounding products was one of the most complex, memorable and successful projects I’ve ever led. The “secret sauce” that led to the project’s success was made up of a unique combination of ingredients, including the following:

Accountability and follow-through. Space Coast CU, with a CUES Advancing Management group membership, held its staff accountable at every step. This created trust with Fiserv, which enabled a more collaborative and pure, goal-oriented focus than is typical in a high-pressure initiative.

Consistent communication. Space Coast CU and Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz., created a culture of discipline for meetings, minutes, commitments, status updates and escalations—decisions, risks, changes or issues that arose as a result of the project and required executive approval to move forward.

Vendor and consultant collaboration. Cornerstone and Fiserv resolved to be partners with a common goal: a successful conversion on behalf of our mutual client, no matter the challenges or obstacles.

Change control. As the project management office, we put strict change policies in place to protect the success of the conversion, and Space Coast CU executive sponsors rightly embraced them.

Risk mitigation plan. Space Coast CU evaluated the risks and developed mitigation strategies around each critical component of the conversion, including “Plan B” options. How about a Category 4 hurricane on conversion week to test these strategies? That happened, and Space Coast CU responded with conviction.

Proper resource allocation. Space Coast CU was generous with its resource allocation, which fit its objective of a large, transformative conversion.

Celebrate success. Space Coast CU frequently took time to genuinely recognize the project team members’ achievements throughout the project, which increased the buy-in to the change at all levels and kept staff energized and morale high.

Playbook. Cornerstone developed a 1,500-line conversion playbook that was an accumulation of all vendor and team tasks, the step-by-step recipe for the conversion event. It was used one time for mock conversion, then revised for the actual go-live event. It is archived with all project documentation in the project archives.

Alison Van Pelt, PMP, is a director for CUES Supplier member and strategic provider Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz.

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