Big Bang Approach
Busey signed its contract with CSI in May of last year, four months before the contract with its existing core provider ended on Sept. 14. (Kopischke declined to identify the bank's previous core systems provider.) Busey and CSI decided to take a "big bang" approach to the conversion, doing it all at once on the weekend of Sept. 14, rather than taking a phased approach. This was feasible, Kopischke says, because CSI and Busey worked closely in the months leading up the conversion to prepare everything.
In preparation for the conversion, the two companies embarked on intensive training of more than 900 bank employees, including its tellers who had to learn to work with a new interface. CSI provided e-learning modules for Busey employees to practice how various programs and systems would operate under the new core systems. CSI did the training on site at Busey; it also had employees on site to test every aspect of the integration, Kopischke says.
"We established work teams across all of our lines of business," she says. "From our operations managers to people who work on the front line, every part of the company was involved in this process. ... It was a full commitment from all lines of business."
CSI employees also formed teams that focused on moving the bank's data between cores in segments, says Bob Ezell, CSI's VP of product management. CSI and Busey managers met weekly to review progress and solve problems, providing communication that was key to the core conversion's success, Ezell says.
Not only was internal communication important, but communication with the bank's customers also was critical. The bank sent customers mailings explaining the conversion and provided updates on its website, Kopischke says. A single associate from the bank's communications group was responsible for the customer communication.
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On the weekend of the conversion, 100 CSI representatives were at Busey's headquarters, and a CSI employee was at each of the bank's branches. The bank shut down the Saturday of the changeover while everything switched to the new core, and the core data came back up on Sunday. "We knew when our downtime would be and when everything would come back up, so we were prepared," Kopischke says.
The switchover went smoothly, she says, and the few issues that came up were solved quickly. As with all large, complex transitions, it wasn't perfect. CSI and the bank could have done a better job understanding how the transition would affect back-office processes, she says.
Busey's customers largely didn't experience any problem. "There were no major customer impact issues that caused havoc," and feedback from customers and associates alike has been positive, Kopischke says.
About six months after the conversion, the bank is still measuring the full effect of the switch, but it already has noticed efficiencies. For example, the delivery of new products is much quicker, Kopischke says, and Busey is able to respond faster to technological issues that arise.
Ultimately, though, Kopischke admits the four-month timeline to complete the project "was a little short" but the close partnership between Busey and CSI enabled the conversion to be successful nonetheless. "We did a really good job with it," she says.