Best practices to avoid painful tech conversions

Core and other technology conversions have the reputation of being long and painful. A transition to a new service or tool is often a last resort, but implementing new technology is necessary to promote meaningful and innovative change within the organization.

Whether a bank or credit union is looking to implement a new core, roll out mobile offerings or transition their statements and customer communications to a new platform, there are simple steps executives can take to ensure a seamless transition.

Here are some best practices when it comes to accomplishing a tech conversion with ease.

Workflow development

It’s important for every financial institution to develop a workflow for the new implementation. This step not only enables a greater understanding of the process, but also assists technology providers in seeing how and where their services come into play. A workflow showcases the end-to-end flow of data, which in turn identifies important results or outcomes for the customer.

Creating a workflow plan on the front end also assists in detecting the status quo, giving vendors the ability to see where an implementation could hit roadblocks. While banks and credit unions may see the creation of a new workflow as tedious, the construction of a plan prior to implementation will alleviate many of the stressors that arise during the process itself. Developing the new workflow will also indicate how key elements of the current workflow will change.

Involve key executives

Including key executives is vital when discussing vast changes to operability. Adding or adjusting the technology banks and credit unions utilize is a strategic decision, and executive-level sponsorship is crucial for success.

Many times, discussions regarding technology and operability can lead to offshoot conversations, causing things to get off track which delays decisions. Executives have the ability to refocus the conversation, reprioritize company efforts and greenlight important changes to benefit the overall experience.

Work in stages

When taking on a task like a core conversion, it’s easy to want to dive into the minute details from the start. It’s important to focus on the holistic experience first, and then iron out individual details later. Banks and credit unions often make a mistake by trying to perfect each step of the workflow from the beginning.

Work to accomplish 90% functionality in the first stage.  Focus on intricate small issues in the second stage, where there’s bandwidth for attention on exceptions to the process and possible bugs. This allows for the major aspects of implementation to get nailed down in phase one while leaving phase two for the perfection of tasks and processes.

Risk management

One of the most important things to understand when taking on a task like a core conversion is the risks that come with it. If the bank or credit union understands the risks, they are able to create a plan to overcome them.

These risks can be associated with a variety of things from data conversion to overall technology delays. With the help of executive sponsors, stakeholders and the project team, through mutual engagement risks can be avoided with an open and transparent conversation.

Some common risks that can arise include incomplete data, lengthy review cycles between legal and other internal groups, resource mismatches when data comes from two separate cores/systems and changes to data that are not clearly communicated.

Testing before going live

It’s important that prior to the new core going live, banks and credit unions utilize test accounts to confirm that all aspects are working to the greatest extent.

While this is the ideal way to test, some cores don’t have the capability for test accounts to be run. In this case, attempt to use test data to run through the lifecycle of an account. If either of those options isn’t capable through the current core, financial institutions can use staff members’ accounts to test.

It’s important to gauge timelines and other expectations to ensure that goals put in place are achievable and realistic. Keep key executives in the loop to cut down on approval times and ensure that the big picture remains the main focus – a better customer and employee experience.

Technology conversions can be challenging, but by following the above best practices, banks and credit unions are better positioned to avoid risks and delays.

Griffin McGahey is president at HC3, a Birmingham, Alabama-based company that manages complex data to help financial institutions communicate with customers.

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