As the central engine for your bank’s operations, your core platform is crucial to long-term viability. So, it’s understandable that when that core system isn’t working optimally, no longer serves your customer journey, or does not provide enough support, a conversion to a new platform and vendor becomes an intimidating prospect for many financial institutions. Extended timelines, complex features, and the drain on internal resources can each be significant hurdles. An obsolete or inflexible system will eventually necessitate this transition, however, and that makes finding the right vendor critical.
Fortunately, these core conversions do not have to be a headache. Finding the right provider marks the difference between a year-long headache and a much more straightforward conversion. For banks looking to demystify core conversions, here are five attributes to look for from a prospective vendor.
Collaborate on Discovery Mapping
Core conversions can be overwhelming, but it is the responsibility of the core provider to ease the transition. The provider should elaborate each step of the conversion process with their client’s conversion team and explain the options available. While it is important for the conversion team to already be knowledgeable about the technology they will be onboarding, the provider should be able to explain the process, the core’s features and the important details of the upcoming conversion plainly.
This communication and style of collaboration should reveal itself through early meetings. Instead of the provider asking the bank to fill out its own worksheet on its legacy data and how it handles its codes, the provider and client should work together. Both should work through the legacy vendor data and make any changes that either side feel will ease future operations. This collaborative discovery mapping allows all parties involved to understand the future functions of the new core and the needs of financial institution.
Engage Cross-Functional Subject Matter Experts
While some core providers divide the responsibilities of each part of a conversion to individuals, having cross-functional subject matter experts on the staff can make the transition easier. Instead of having teams on either side of the conversion unable to make decisions or understand more than one aspect, the core provider can improve efficiency by ensuring employees are trained across aspects of the core. The conversion process can become more challenging when teams working on behalf of the provider aren’t able to answer questions on other functions or aspects of their product.
This, too, should be a piece of the client training. Instead of having team members focus exclusively on singular functions, clients should work with the provider to train people across the core’s features. This should limit the questions that clients have about the new core and make the transition run smoother.
Schedule Regular Check-Ins
Regardless of efficiency, converting cores will take time and it is important that providers allow for regular communication throughout the process. Weekly meetings between the conversion team and the core provider will help divide the seemingly overwhelming workload that goes into this kind of change. These regular check-in meetings should involve members of the conversion team and the business’s decision-makers. Meetings should revolve around each aspect of the change and, most importantly, the core provider should give insights into the progress of the transition. This should include assessments on employee training as well.
Embrace Post-Conversion Support
What separates good core providers from great core providers is continuous support and communication beyond the conversion. A core is best tested when the bank or other financial institution begin their normal procedures and production again. Providers should work alongside their clients beyond the finish line to ensure that the conversion has met its goals. If the provider doesn’t offer fast track for help or extra support after the conversion is complete, clients can be left dissatisfied.
The first weeks of normal operations should see the newly trained employees assisted and monitored by those that trained them. Only by allowing the client to work with their customers can the provider ensure that everything is working correctly, that the employees have been trained well and that the features the client asked for are fully functional. This support goes a long way to keeping employees comfortable and the conversion successful.
Utilize Ongoing Training Tools
While core providers will eventually move to their next conversion, what potential clients should look for is an organization willing to assist long after conversion has been completed. Instead of the on-site support needed just after conversion, refresher training tools and courses should be accessible to clients for months afterward.
Training employees throughout the conversion will do the heavy lifting but banks will still have questions on the newly adopted features as the financial technology landscape changes. Aside from this, employee turnover and the changing needs of clientele will necessitate new training, access to information and general help from the core provider. This additional support can be a dramatic difference for those looking for a long-term relationship and access to a library of online training videos should be a consideration for those institutions looking for their future core provider.
Megan Lee is the Chief Product Officer at Smiley Technologies and has been with Smiley since 2012. She is responsible for working collaboratively with clients and internal stakeholders to lead product development, design, and implementation efforts. She also heads Smiley’s conversions team and has led 12 conversions and counting.