Lessons Learned from Transitioning DUCA Credit Union to Fiserv DNA during COVID-19
At Celero, we’re well known for our core banking expertise, especially when it comes to complicated conversions from one core banking system to Fiserv’s DNA core banking platform. Typically, an important part of this conversion process involves being on-site with credit union employees to support and deliver on key milestones over the course of the conversion. We recently faced a unique challenge with this face-to-face component as we brought DUCA Credit Union onto our core banking platform. Because travel isn’t possible right now, our team had to find a work-around to get DUCA converted 100% remotely. With the conversion now successfully completed, we sat down (virtually) with Aron Rogers, AVP, Application Services at DUCA Credit Union, to reflect on the process and talk about what other credit unions who might be unsure about taking on a remote conversion right now can learn from DUCA’s experience.
- Why did DUCA choose to convert to DNA and develop this relationship with Celero?
At DUCA, we employ a high-tech and high-touch approach to technology that enables us to enhance our relationship with Members. With this in mind, we recognized the need to switch to a more efficient, agile platform that would strengthen our ability to serve our Members, support Member growth, and provide the flexibility to address Members’ evolving needs. Fiserv DNA is recognized as an industry leader for its flexible, Member-centric model and was chosen as the foundation to support our strategy.
Celero was the clear choice as our partner for our DNA conversion, ongoing hosting and support. Celero brings the knowledge and experience that were critical in making the move to DNA and in supporting DNA going forward. Celero, along with their integration experience and partnerships, will be key in driving our digital transformation goals forward.
- How did COVID-19 impact your conversion plans?
A major impact of COVID-19 was the need for the team to work remotely. Our amazing IT-Ops and Facilities teams put in a lot of work to ensure that the team was equipped to move to remote work effectively. This included sending out hardware such as extra monitors and docking stations, ensuring collaboration software was installed and available, and ensuring that bandwidth was sufficient. The people aspect was even more important than the hardware and software components. As a team we ramped up communications and touch points to ensure that everyone was engaged and knew that they were supported. As a result of this excellent work and a great display of flexibility and adaptability by the team, we were able to remain committed to our conversion timelines despite COVID-19.
- How did the Celero team ease your concerns when performing this work remotely?
When COVID-19 hit, the DUCA and Celero teams were already working well together which was an advantage. Overall, I think that honesty and transparency were the keys to easing our concerns. The COVID-19 situation was new ground for all of us, and we needed to work together to maintain our momentum. Both DUCA and Celero were up front about concerns but we were also committed to working together to adapt and meet this new challenge. We were able to do so very successfully, and we feel it brought the teams even closer together.
- Were there any unexpected benefits of doing the conversion remotely?
While face-to-face collaboration certainly has its advantages, collaborating using technology allowed us to gain some efficiencies by removing the need to physically relocate from room to room, or to find people in the office. The use of technology also normalized how we communicated with DUCA and Celero resources and contributed to the feeling of a single, unified team. I suspect that in some cases removing the “distractions” of the office allowed the team to better focus on individual tasks. The lack of a commute also provided everyone with a little more time each day to help with work-life balance.
- What was it like working with the Celero team?
The Celero team has been terrific. Very early on in the project the DUCA and Celero conversion resources felt like one cohesive team. They brought a lot of knowledge and experience to the table which gave us confidence throughout the project. Their poise and professionalism were a calming influence during stressful times. They were quick to respond to questions and when they didn’t have an answer at hand, they would do the necessary research to provide the information we were looking for.
One aspect of the Celero team that really stood out to me was how they built relationships with the DUCA team. Not only did Celero want the overall project to be successful, they also wanted to ensure that everyone on the DUCA team was successful. They often went out of their way to work with individual DUCA resources to provide additional support when needed.
- What, in your mind, was the most successful part of the conversion? What surprised you most about it?
Overall, the conversion has been extremely successful. There will always be a few issues that result from a project of this size, but they have all been manageable and of relatively low severity. Member impact has been minimal, and after only a few weeks we’re almost back to business as usual. In my view, the most successful part of the conversion was the incredible experience we gained in building and engaging a cross-functional team at DUCA. As a result of this long and complex project we have improved our ability to work collaboratively across the organization. Our success has given us the confidence to take on new challenges and to continue our efforts to help our Members do more, be more and achieve more!
- Do you have any advice for a credit union that is planning a conversion?
Celero has a lot of experience with conversions and will be able to do a lot of heavy lifting. However, every credit union is different, with different products, business rules and different data. Celero can’t have all the answers for your specific situation and can’t know the intimate details of your business. As a result, you will need to do some heavy lifting yourself. My main piece of advice is to ensure that you have the resources and capacity to handle the conversion. It can be a huge challenge for the same resources to handle both BAU and the conversion at the same time. It’s also very difficult to bring in new resources amid the conversion when existing resources are already stretched thin and time is at a premium. Take the time to bring in the necessary resources and get them over the learning curve prior to beginning the conversion. That extra capacity and redundancy will pay huge dividends throughout the project.
A conversion is a very large, strategic decision to make and one that from the outside might seem very intimidating. However, many credit unions that have made this impactful decision have come to recognize the benefits of working with and relying on Celero during this process. We’re thankful that despite all the pandemic presented challenges, that we’ve been able to add DUCA to the list as a successful partner.
Celero is a leading provider of digital technology and integration solutions to credit unions and financial institutions across Canada. Clients trust Celero’s proven track record delivering innovative banking technologies, digital and payment solutions, cloud computing, outsourcing, IT and advisory services.
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