Know the Basics of a Core Conversion

apple with an orange at its core
By Tami Webb

4 minutes

Here are some key ideas—and a checklist—to smooth this important transition.

Sponsored by United Solutions Company

After months of demos, asking questions and reviewing different systems, your credit union has finally decided on a new core! Congratulations! Now the “real” work of core conversion begins. 

This article summarizes some key ideas to smooth the implementation of the new system and help staff transition to using it. You might also want to check out our core conversion checklist.

Start by Cleaning Up Data and Getting Buy-In

If your credit union hasn’t already started to clean up data from the outgoing system, it’s time to dive in! Purge old members from the database. Review notes, forms, letters and reports. Don’t convert old data unless necessary. The conversion is an opportunity for a fresh start!

The team that chose the new system should be involved in presenting the new opportunity to the credit union employees. Have them answer questions like: Why did they choose this system? What advantages does the new core offer, and how will the new system make our credit union better?

It’s up to the leaders of the credit union and the conversion team to build the staff’s enthusiasm. Check out our article, “How To Assemble Your Credit Union Conversion Team” for more tips.

Make Learning Fun

Having contests or other events connected to reaching particular milestones or achievements have helped other credit union teams embrace the systems training and education that will be needed. You can try this at your credit union. Developing a theme for your conversion can set a positive tone for the project. Credit unions have had race car- or derby-themed conversions. Another way to get your whole staff involved is by having the tellers wear hard hats with signs that say, “We’re under construction.” It is important to get everyone involved and create an environment conducive to learning.

Try to keep your team from falling into old habits. When you hear, “That’s not how we do it” during training, chances are someone is having a hard time with the change. The top reason for a core change is the existing system isn’t meeting the needs of your credit union. Embrace the new workflows, efficiencies and benefits of your new data processing system.

Use Provided Tools and Stay Positive

In the early stages of the conversion, the new core processor will send out project plans and documentation. Make sure you distribute the information quickly and provide expectations for when the materials need to be read. Missing a deadline starts a domino effect on other aspects of the conversion. This is where many delays start. Everyone is affected by delays, including the credit union team, the core processor and your third-party vendors. Product managers can keep track of dates and tasks, but you need to hold your employees accountable. 

Whether you know it or not, your credit union has built its operation around the capabilities of the existing core system. During the conversion, your credit union will need to verify and ensure all the policies and procedures are up to date. Concentrate on efficiencies provided by the new system. Your credit union should set up as many system efficiencies as possible and ensure that staff is trained properly. Make sure you have written procedures for everything. 

Focus on Training and Testing

Once the data from your current core has been loaded into the new core database, training and testing can begin. Identify subject matter experts in each department who will be able to support the credit union post-conversion. Require your SMEs to verify the data has transferred over correctly, postings are working properly and their department understands how to use the new system efficiently. This will help ensure errors are corrected before the conversion, so the database looks great. It is much easier to fix an error before conversion than after. The new core relies heavily upon the SMEs for validation and support.

Classroom instruction is the fun part of the conversion. It’s important to provide a safe space and/or time for each employee to practice entering a few transactions into the new system each day. Having your staff take their work from the previous day and enter it into the new system is a best practice. A reward or recognition upon completion goes a long way.

By being prepared and working hard with your new core provider, you can have a very successful conversion. United Solutions Company offers two fully hosted, open API database core processing systems. The conversion and implementation teams are ready and excited to help you through this new change at your credit union.

Tami Webb is VP/sales for United Solutions Company, a CUES Supplier member based in Florida. Webb joined the USC team from Fiserv where she was a senior sales executive. She has 30-plus years of experience in the financial services industry as director of sales operations, sales manager, VP/training and development, credit union product manager and several other executive positions in management, core solutions, compliance, point-of-sale products and leadership consulting. Her approach is established by listening and understanding the client’s goals and strategy. She follows through and truly cares about every client, as is demonstrated in each client’s success. Webb has two sons, both married, and one grandson, and resides in the Houston area.

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