Conversions are not easy. Implementing a conversion plan needs strong leadership and a team of the right individuals to successfully execute it. Creating the project team and staffing it with key participants from across the organization will have a significant impact on the ability to successfully execute the plan. It will help solidify their buy in and foster valuable input.
A successful conversion requires attention to timelines and the completion of tasks. It requires a clear understanding of what’s changing operationally and how the customers will be impacted. The bank needs to determine if it has the experienced staff internally who may have gone thru a core conversion previously and understand what is involved in the process.
- Can it assign the right people to identify the potential points of failure and risks?
- Does it have a strong leader who can focus solely on the project and drive the day to day conversion effort?
- Does the bank have staff with project management skills that can organize and manage the project across all of the various work streams?
Since a Core conversion can typically take a year or more to plan and implement, can those internal resources devote several days per week vs hours per week to the conversion effort over that period of time and not impact the running of the bank. If not, the bank should seriously consider supplementing its internal staff with outside expertise to facilitate the strategy planning process and manage the conversion thru to completion. Regardless if outside help is brought in or not, there will be a significant time commitment of internal resources to provide work stream subject matter expertise specific to the organization. This is a reality that the bank must take into consideration and plan for.
A Core banking project can potentially impact practically every operational process in the bank. It impacts the entire staff and their normal daily work routines. It even impacts their personal lives as often vacations are postponed, longer hours and weekend conversion tasks interrupt family activities. Therefore, the conversion team should have adequate representation from all areas of the bank. The earlier critical work stream resources from across the bank are assigned to the project and outside expertise brought in to begin the planning process together as a team, the earlier risks and opportunities will be identified. It also allows team members time to plan their personal lives around the conversion. Recognizing organizational risks and resource limitations as early as possible in the conversion process enables an organization to address and mitigate any potential issues before they become real problems that threaten the overall success of the project.
If done right, Core conversions present an opportunity to eliminate manual processes and not create new ones. So, it is important to incorporate resources on the conversion team that understand current operational processes and are willing to implement new business practices in their operations to meet conversion objectives. Even with an experienced internal team, it is advisable to bring in outside expertise to partner with the project team to act in an advisory capacity to facilitate strategy planning, help manage the vendors and assist with the documentation and administration of the conversion process. They bring to the project valuable lessons learned to the project team thru their experience. The additional expertise will ensure the right questions are being asked and important details are not overlooked. Whether going it alone or bringing in outside expertise, choosing the right mix of team members will ensure the conversion strategy is properly implemented resulting in a successful conversion.
Next will be The Process.