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How to successfully implement a new IT system for a Credit Union

August 3, 2016

An interview with Ultan Ryan, CEO of Wexford CU

Wexford Credit Union Limited completed an IT core software system change project and planned implementation in February 2016. We talk to Ultan Ryan to find out more….

Why did you need to change your Credit Union Software?

Our Credit Union is a big user of technology, we process a large volume of transactions and are one of the biggest lenders in the region.  We process approximately 60 loans a day, mostly over the counter, so strategically technology needs to continue to support face to face transactions in an efficient manner to enable us to grow.  The system that was being used wasn’t going to be able to meet our growing needs so we needed to make the decision to move to a system that would support our long term strategy.

What did you consider before the request for proposals?

The Board of Directors wished to ensure that any new software would support the Credit Unions vision to promote the financial well-being of its members by providing a broad range of innovative financial products.   The system needed to be able to support the large volume of transactions and meet all the operational needs of the Credit Union.  In addition, we needed to be able to work with a partner who was experienced, flexible and committed to ensure minimal disruption to member services, during the course of the transition. A request for proposals process was initiated and after an exhaustive process, we selected Wellington IT as the chosen business partner to implement this core software system for Wexford CU.  

Why did you decide to go with Wellington IT to provide the technology for your credit union?

The system is fully integrated and has the ability to meet all of our operational and member needs efficiently and cost-effectively.  The fact that they are now part of the Volaris Group means they are not only committed to, but are also investing in improving the service they are providing to their customers.  In my opinion they now have even more capacity to address our business requirements. They understood what we were trying to achieve and are committed to helping us be more competitive, grow members, manage risk and develop into new markets through the use of the system. We look forward to working with Wellington IT in a co-operative way to develop the use of the system even further.

What is the key piece of advice to other credit unions when devising your implementation team for data migration and system transition project?

From the outset the management and Board of Directors understood that data migration and system implementation and testing was not day to day business for credit union staff. Similarly, the running of a credit union was not the day to day job of a software provider. This gap was bridged by creating a project team which included credit union staff, Wellington IT staff, an implementation team and external consultants. This allowed progress to be regularly monitored at various stages, as the core software system was integrated. 

The implementation team were aware of other change projects under way in the industry. They wished to leverage the best practices from all involved to ensure a well thought out project plan, delivered in a controlled fashion that would best meet the objectives of all the stakeholders in the process. 

Wellington IT were very flexible in their approach to the implementation, a dedicated project team was formed and significant resources were made available by Wellington IT to facilitate the plan’s successful implementation. 

Hardware requirements were outlined early in the process and the team at Wellington IT worked closely with the hardware provider to ensure all hardware issues were efficiently resolved early on in the project. This allowed for a more seamless implementation phase.

Data migration plans were formulated and tested well in advance of the go-live date, with the team at Wellington IT making sufficient resources available, ensuring any resulting issues were resolved in a timely manner.  

How did you make sure your Credit Union IT core software system change project was a success?

Key to our success was the fact that training plans were developed at an early stage and ‘super users’ at the CU level took on the important task of learning the ins and outs of the new software. Training was identified as a key project variable and Wellington IT committed the required resources to ensure success.

As we approached the ‘go-live’ date, all stakeholders ramped up the resources to ensure the final data migration was without major incident. Business routines had been tested in advance and where software changes were required Wellington IT were able to schedule these in a timely manner.

Significant resources were made available for the ‘go-live’ day with Wexford CU. The credit union closed for 2 business days to ensure that everything was ready to go. Fall back plans were in place and staff fully briefed and trained on the new software system to ensure the team were comfortable with the software and ready to use when the credit union reopened. 

The Wellington IT team, external consultants and the entire team at Wexford Credit Union were satisfied that a co-operative and flexible approach to the project would ensure success. 

How have you measured success for Wexford Credit Union?

We now have a fully integrated system which has the ability to meet all of our operational and member needs efficiently and cost effectively. Commitment from all those involved ensured that in the weeks post implementation we could benefit immediately from the system. The post implementation support from Wellington IT has helped the Credit Union ensure that the members now have access to a system which will improve member services.   The initial project implementation gives me confidence that Wellington IT will work with us in a co-operative way to develop the system even further to meet our long term needs. 

In summary what your top 5 tips for project delivery success?

  1. Stay focused – stay focused on your long term goals and objectives, so you need to ensure your partner not only has the capacity and capability to meet these, but is also committed to your strategy.
  2. Be flexible - Create a robust plan but be flexible so that you can change what isn’t working
  3. Work as a team - it’s not your software providers responsibility to make it work you need to offer your teams expertise and work in partnership, you need a dedicated partner who understands what you need to do.
  4. Get staff involved – identify shining stars within your Credit Union, create “super users” and expert implementation teams.  They will take ownership of the project and will be dedicated to make sure that not only is the transition successful but you are leveraging the most of out of the system.
  5. Make training and communication a priority –  to ensure the system was being used properly immediately assign time before the project to make sure everyone understands the capability and how it will help them directly in their day to day job