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Transferring from Octagon: Two data migration methods explored

February 23, 2017

Transferring data from Octagon to your new Credit Union system

The most important part of any Credit Union’s I.T system is their member data. If the information a Credit Union holds on its members is inaccurate or missing, it can lead to inaccurate assumptions and financial consequences for members and Credit Unions alike. Bad transfers can lead to an inability to provide your members with the services they need, and many breaches of data regulation snowball into much larger legal and compliance issues, which can result in lending restrictions, fines, sanctions by the Central Bank, and sometimes even the closure of a branch. Issues like these generate a lack of confidence in the specific Credit Union, and even the movement, that may never be fully recovered.

If you’re currently running the Octagon system in your Credit Union, you’ll know that change is just around the corner. Whilst the system is still functional, it doesn’t offer online and mobile functionality that will make your Credit Union more attractive to potential members.

In the last three years, 487,447 Credit Union members have had their data transferred from Octagon to a new system – that’s a huge amount of data, and it’s important that it all reaches its destination safely and securely.

When you do decide on a system to transfer to, making sure your data migration is a seamless and stress free as possible is the most important aspect of making the move. There are two options for how you go about this: using reports to take information across, or a complete transfer of the data from point A to point B.

 

Option 1: Transferring data using Octagon report printouts

 

How does it work?

Some IT providers choose to transfer your members’ data from the Octagon system to a new system using reports. This means relying on print outs generated by Octagon and manually adding all the information that these reports leave out to your new system.

The Pros

It tends to be the easier option for some IT providers, and this means in the short term, their initial charges can be less expensive.

The Cons

The nature of transferring data through reports means that the information that comes from this method is not just incomplete, but also liable to be effected by human error.

Not all of your original data will be transferred due to the limitations of Octagon’s reporting system, which leads to inaccuracies and gaps in member information. You also won’t be able to verify your calculations, as data isn’t recalculated within the new system, just copied from your old system, costing you time and money when you have to plug the gaps in the information before you reopen.

These kinds of issues can cause a lot of problems for your Credit Union, including:

  • Members receiving incorrect dividend’s due to miscalculations of dividend points
    • Your Credit Union members can receive too large or too small a dividend if their points are calculated using reports. Octagon reports only recalculate the dividend in full, as part of the year end run which means that any transfers done during the year will not have accurate point data.
  • Being unable to approve loans accurately due to lost account linking information
    • You lose the ability to get an overall view of the member, including key links between spouse, guarantors, and joint accounts. This data provides key decision making information for things like loan approvals. The links are stored in the database, but don’t show in reports.
  • Being unable to supply PPS numbers, meaning fines and investigations by Revenue
    • This has become a big issue with ex-Octagon Credit Unions. Because it’s illegal to display or print PPS numbers, they aren’t produced on reports. This means that the PPS numbers cannot be transferred to your new system, putting you in the firing line.
  • Wasting staff and member time by requesting and re-populating member nominations
    • Due to confidentiality, reports also don’t carry across member nominations which means that you no longer know who your member wants their share to go to after they die. Your Credit Union will need to gather this information again and your staff will need to key the information in individually which could lead to human errors and inaccuracies. Tis can involve thousands of nomination forms and not only will your members question why you need this information again, you will also waste weeks of valuable staff time that could be put to better use concentrating on growth.

What’s the impact of using reports?

In the long run, reports tend to lead to a lot more issues than their original cost efficiency is worth. Using them to move your data can lead to bad transfers, and impact almost all areas of your Credit Union:

  • Financial consequences: Inaccuracy of financial information such as incorrect savings, loan and loan interest data can lead to members being overcharged interest or incorrect savings interest being paid, problems which can be escalated to governing bodies
  • Loss of business: If there are data transfer disasters, you run the risk of your Credit Union not being able to open or having to withdraw member services until the issues are resolved
  • Cost of non-compliance – Because of the amount of missing information associated with transfers through reports, there can be a failure to meet regulatory and compliance requirements. The responsibility for these failures ultimately lies with the board of directors, and due to the scale of the missing data, these mistakes normally lead to regulatory intervention (fines, sanctions etc) and scrutiny of future decisions by the Central Bank.
  • Reputational damage: Loss of member information can lead to a loss of staff confidence in your I.T system, and a loss of member confidence in not just your Credit Union, but the movement as a whole.

 

Option 2: Transferring data through the Octagon database

 

How does it work?

Transferring your data field by field means in a more accurate migration across systems. The only supplier to be able to do this is Wellington IT, as their transfers from Octagon are overseen by ex-Octagon staff. All calculated fields such as interest due, interest received, arrears etc are recalculated and compared to the Octagon system to ensure accuracy and to validate any discrepancies. A trial run is undertaken usually a month before you go live and data in octagon is compared to what is, this allows the customers to run comparison reports from both systems.

Pros

Transferring data in this way means that you can be sure all the information you need has been taken across accurately. It gives auditors, your board, and your compliance departments the time they need to make sure your new system and the data held within it meets the standards set by the Central Bank. This means that when your system goes live, you know you can open your doors on time, and provide your members with all the services they need.

Cons

Traditionally, due to the detailed project plans that needed to be put in place, this method took a little longer than transferring through reports. Now however, especially with Octagon sites, there’s very little time difference between transfer methods.

This method can seem a little more expensive at first, and it’s often hard to communicate to reluctant boards that a little more input initially will mean less expenditure in the long run on correcting mistakes and training staff. In the 12 months following the data transfer, the time taken for staff to key in this information manually will cost at least 3 times as more.  Credit Unions who opt for a process which enables them to transfer data field by field can be assured that 100% data accuracy.  The time previously spent by staff to manually key in information and the cost savings from not doing so, can now be used to focus on improving member services to grow.

What’s the impact of using field by field transfer?

Migrating data field by field means you can be sure the information you need is exactly where you need it. Staff don’t need to painstakingly enter missing information piece by piece, which frees up their time to help your members make full use of everything your new system can offer.

  • Staff open the doors to the Credit Union the morning after a transfer with confidence that the new system has all the data from the previous system. 100% data accuracy – 100% of data transferred.
  • Central Bank and audit related testing is completed across the data by Wellington prior to your new system going live, meaning you can put all your effort into making sure your Credit Union thrives.

Which data transfer process will be best for your Credit Union?

At first glance, taking your data across to a new system through reports may seem like an easier and cheaper option. However, due to the compliance and regulatory issues, as well as the danger of human error that comes with report migration, when it comes to ensuring the best for your Credit Union and your members, field by field data transfer is the only way to go.