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Bank relies upon training software to get customers ready for a rapid transition.

For a large organization, moving from one system to another is rarely a simple matter. Even more fraught with difficulty is changing the systems used by paying customers. On top of that, having to complete the conversion within a 60-day window would be enough to make anyone break into a cold sweat.

That was precisely the situation faced by National City Corp. (Cleveland, Ohio; $139 billion in assets) when it switched treasury management software providers to Bottomline Technologies (Portsmouth, N.H.). Approximately 15,000 users at almost 5,000 companies use National City's information reporting and ACH initiation capabilities.

National City had to make the switch from its legacy system within a 60-day window. "The time frame was dictated by when the new system would be developed and implemented and by contractual obligations with the former provider, as we had agreed to get off their system," says Terry Schade, senior vice president, wholesale banking division, National City.

Preparing for the 60-day switch-over took about a year. That's when National City began working with IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) on its conversion strategy, which involved the use of IBM's Learning Management System (LMS). Actual development of e-learning materials began about six months out. IBM also provided the content development tools, implementation services and call center support.

The LMS technology allowed the bank's customers to work with a training-mode version of the treasury management software, within a controlled environment. At each step in the process, any incorrect entries would generate an explanatory response from the system, which would then, for example, guide the user to the correct field. As a result, users were not simply dropped into a live system on the launch date. "It allowed people to practice repeatedly to get familiar with it so that when the day came, they knew exactly how they needed to navigate through the system," says Schade.

Training paths were customized around specific job responsibilities covering the most commonly used features, such as payroll and tax payments. "They would take different portions of the training [that were] pertinent to the functional role that they serve," says Schade. "They were really ready to do their specific roles when the conversion occurred."

Through these training techniques, the bank was able to meet its goal of a rapid conversion with a high level of customer satisfaction. Furthermore, customers reported that they planned to use the system on an ongoing basis in order to bring new employees up to speed.

Plus, the e-learning tools can help National City to train its own employees -- both old and new. "Not only will it work for new sales and new product rollouts, but it will assist us as we continue to grow and acquire," observes Schade. "Oftentimes you're trying to train a large number of folks in a short period of time."

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