CSI Resources

overhead view of work table

A Successful Core Conversion, One Latte at a Time

  • by Computer Services, Inc.
  • Mar 01, 2017

VISIONBank in Fargo, North Dakota, has the motto: “Getting It Done.” And when the bank realized the need to find a more strategic core bank processing partner to improve efficiency and integration, that motto guided them through not only its decision to find a new core partner, but also its completion of the conversion process.

The bank knew it needed a near-perfect execution to prevent customer impact, so VISIONBank’s leadership adopted some best practices–and a few unconventional tactics–to prepare employees both technically and emotionally for the conversion.

Getting Employee Buy-In on the Core Provider

VISIONBank didn’t take the idea of a conversion lightly, so getting staff buy-in from the beginning was a priority for the leadership team. As the bank vetted possible providers, the selection committee, which consisted of employees from departments across the institution, surveyed staff members extensively regarding the features and functionality they wanted most in a new core banking system.

The bank also considered each potential vendor’s culture and if the solution could help VISIONBank achieve its long-term strategic objectives of delivering enhanced customer support and a more robust omnichannel experience. And above all, the technology rewards had to outweigh the conversion risks. 

Preparing for Conversion Both Technically and Emotionally

Once the bank selected its new core banking provider and the conversion date was set, it took a strategic approach to the conversion by preparing both technically and emotionally.

  • Technical Preparation:

    To start, the bank hired a consultant, who had worked with them during the core provider selection process, to lead the deconversion process on the bank’s behalf. This enabled VISIONBank to focus on the conversion itself, including employee system training and its new relationship with the vendor.

    Next, the bank created a conversion team, assigning each team member to a different critical area to ensure all areas had dedicated leadership. In addition, the bank addressed such potential customer impact as preparing for the smooth transition of Internet banking accessibility. 

  • Emotional Preparation
  • VISIONBank’s leadership recognized that each employee would be affected by the conversion, so it built a plan to engage employees throughout the process. For starters, the bank’s president disavowed the word “conversion” due to its negative connotations, opting instead for “enhancement.” The bank also encouraged employees to remain open to learning the new system, and to prepare for the unexpected, leading to the bank’s official conversion theme—be flexible. As a visual reminder, the bank gave employees a small toy Gumby for their desks, which many still have today.   

Conversion Week, Fun?!  

When conversion week arrived, the bank’s commitment to preparing both the technology and its employees paved the way for success. The bank put its designated points-of-contact for critical areas in place, making sure they had the bandwidth they needed to manage the transition. The bank even set up a “call center” in one of its training rooms to assist customers in accessing the new system.

To keep it fun and maintain levity with staff, several meals were served throughout the week. Each day had its own theme, like “Thanks a Latte,” a day on which all employees received a free latte. The daily themes were cheeky and designed to help keep everyone’s spirits lifted—there was even an all-out marshmallow fight with the provider’s conversion team!  

Valuable Lessons for a Successful Core Conversion

VISIONBank completed its conversion successfully and now has a system that’s already providing value to the bank and its staff: fewer logins, better reporting and one click to the information employees use most. The bank laid the foundation to ensure the project’s success by preparing technically and emotionally, and it paid off, because bank leadership knew if the conversion didn’t go well, it would be bad for customers.

To learn more about VISIONBank’s successful core conversion, read CSI’s free case study.