Don’t Fear the Core Conversion: Five Questions to Ask Potential Providers

Paul Jones

Vice President of Professional Services, DCI


Introduction: Turning Stress into Success

As a bank in today’s market, few decisions carry as much weight as a full core conversion. It’s a process that can feel both pivotal and daunting, knowing this transition will shape the trajectory of your institution’s future success. But amidst the inevitable stress and uncertainty of a core conversion, there should be one unwavering source of reassurance and support: the right technology provider. 

By aligning with a provider whose people and services are just as empowering as its technology offerings, banks can transform what might seem like an intimidating feat into an exciting, strategic opportunity for advancement. Let’s talk about how. 

Getting Started: What to Consider When It Comes Time for a Conversion 

So, your current core is sunsetting, or perhaps just not supporting your goals the way it should be–what now? As your bank approaches the need for a core conversion, the first step toward a prosperous partnership is getting clear about your vision for the future. Where do you see your institution in five years, 10, and so on? What goals and milestones do you need to achieve to get there? 

Once a clear vision is established for your bank, the next step is to identify a provider whose values and commitments align. Ideally, this is the last core conversion you’ll ever need, so understanding a potential provider’s roadmap for the future is an important piece of carrying out yours. Can they scale to accommodate your growth? What steps will they take to support your progress? Can they prove they “walk the walk?”

Because the conversion process should be viewed as a window into a long-term relationship with a provider, there are many questions to ask potential partners before selecting one to transition with. We encourage you to include those listed below.  

Five Questions to Ask Providers About Their Core Conversion Approach:

  1. What’s your plan for ensuring open communication and teamwork with my bank? 

    A thorough approach to driving collaboration through the implementation process is paramount for a smooth conversion experience. This should include: 

    • Appropriate timelines to allow for adequate preparation and minimized risk
    • Designated implementation personnel assigned specifically to your bank
    • Weekly meetings to foster trust and build confidence
    • On-site support for your employees 
  2. What experience does your implementations staff have with institutions that previously ran on my current core system?

    Every core platform is different, and when choosing which one to switch over to, it helps if the new provider has experience transitioning from the core on which you currently operate. Ideally, this new provider offers: 

    • Connection to customer references who’ve converted from your current core
    • A detailed project plan to be managed by the new provider
    • Knowledge transfer sessions where experienced Applications Specialists share insights
  3. What training and education resources do you provide?

    Learning styles vary, and since proper education surrounding the new core technology is crucial for bankers, the resources offered by your provider should accommodate those needs accordingly. This might look like:

    • “Bank in a box” hands-on training for practice with new core platform 
    •  Online courses and training to walk through technology features and uses
    • Audit process to test employee knowledge/discover where further support is needed
  4. What will post-launch support look like, including for my bank’s customers?

    The need for support doesn’t end with the implementation process or “go-live” date– for banks and their customers alike, ongoing support is just as important after the fact. A post-launch support plan should look like: 

    • Provider support available on-site to assist with bank’s customer questions and needs once live
    • Primary contact remains the implementation team for at least two weeks
    • 24/7, live-answered, U.S.-based support 
    • Official turnover and introduction to customer support team once ready
  5. Do you have a list of recent core conversion customer references?

    Requesting contacts for customer references is a powerful way to weed out providers who don’t actually “walk the walk.” In fact, don’t be afraid to ask for references from the last five core conversions a provider has done. Those who shy away from sharing these references may not be the partner you’re looking for. 

    Feedback from customer references will ideally sound like this one from Jonathan Hoel, President of Miners National Bank of Eveleth, who can be seen speaking to the DCI conversion experience!

Conclusion: Setting the Stage for a Supportive Partnership

The responsibility for a successful core conversion lies with the technology provider your bank entrusts–so choose wisely which one to foster this partnership with. From guidance through each implementation phase to ongoing education and support, a partner who actively demonstrates a commitment to your bank’s prosperity is the only partner worth having. Your standards should be high–because why compromise on your institution’s future? 

Rather than bracing for a burdensome task to endure, banks ready to embark on this exciting journey should feel exactly that–excited. The right core provider by your side will help you confidently navigate this process and beyond. 

So, ask yourself, will your provider’s approach to conversions set the stage for long-term collaboration and empowerment? The answer could shape the course of your institution’s success for years to come.