ESL Federal Credit Union, a $3.5-billion, 18-branch credit union serving Rochester, N.Y. and surrounding towns, successfully and smoothly implemented The Complete Credit Union Solution: DNA (TCCUS: DNA), the latest enterprise-wide relational data processing platform from Open Solutions.
Open Solutions is a leading provider of integrated enabling technologies for financial institutions in the United States, Canada and other international markets.
"Conversion is probably the largest, most complex project a financial institution could undertake," explained ESL's Mike Armbruster, senior vice president/operations center director, "and with it comes a lot of challenges and opportunities. But knowing what can potentially happen during a core conversion, we didn't anticipate that it would go as smoothly as it did."
The smooth implementation can be greatly attributed to ESL's thorough preparation. Staff members underwent extensive training beginning more than four months prior to the implementation date. The credit union utilized super users in every area and maintained an intranet with comprehensive implementation information. Working with their Open Solutions' team, they also created detailed hour-by-hour plans for the conversion and conducted two full "dress rehearsal" practice implementations. Working closely with Open Solutions and third-party vendors, who also provided vital support, ESL set reasonable expectations for what could be accomplished immediately on the new system. Furthermore, ESL benchmarked extensively with other financial institutions about what to expect during the process.
"We succeeded in avoiding a lot of rookie mistakes," said Armbruster. "We scheduled in advance several large status and critical problem management meetings for the weeks following conversion, sort of 'crisis management,' but we stopped holding them after the third day because things were going so well. Everything returned to normal a lot faster than most of us anticipated it would."
ESL's members were kept apprised of the change, with handouts, mailings, branch signage and information posted on the credit union's Web site and phone system.
"Member loyalty is very important to us - it's a key measure of our success - and through our relationships with our members we've built a lot of trust," said Celeste Kier, the credit union's vice president and marketing director. "The system had to continue to provide members with positive experiences, so we've been tracking member loyalty weekly since the conversion and we have seen no negative impact. It's been a smooth transition for them, almost as if they were not aware it happened."
The implementation took place over the first weekend in March, so while it's too early for ESL to see a return on investment, staffers and members have already seen benefits from TCCUS: DNA.
According to Armbruster, "Employees really like the ability to collect electronic signatures during the account-opening process and the more advanced imaging capabilities. And our members like the improved end-of-day process: In our old system, our electronic channels had to shut down for several minutes each night, but with the Oracle database of DNA, there's no need for that anymore."
Armbruster cited the platform's modern architecture and superior technology as key reasons for selecting TCCUS: DNA. "It will really prepare us for the future and the additional lines of business we'll be exploring."
"The Complete Credit Union Solution: DNA gives credit unions a competitive advantage in operational efficiency and relationship management. Credit unions, like ESL Federal Credit Union, place a great emphasis on providing personal and outstanding service, and the DNA platform allows them to manage member relationships rather than just manage accounts," said Louis Hernandez, Jr., chairman and CEO of Open Solutions. "I'm pleased ESL selected Open Solutions as their technology partner and that they experienced a successful implementation of TCCUS: DNA. Their thorough preparation played a large part in the smooth transition, and I'm confident that they - and their members - will see more benefits each day using our dynamic core processing platform."