Whoever said ‘practice makes perfect’ never went through a core operating system conversion in a financial institution. Metro invested 30,000 labor hours in preparing for the software conversion. That’s the equivalent of 14 full-time employees for a year. We did a full ‘mock conversion’ a month before going live, and spent the next 30 days fixing every issue we found. The preparation and system training were so comprehensive that after 664 prior conversions, our software vendor is now using Metro’s pre-conversion plan as its best practices outline for future conversions.
So, how did the Conversion go? It depends on who you ask. The Vendor Conversion Project Managers judged it as going very well. We were scheduled to be closed all day on Monday, November 3rd, and we opened for business by 8:20 a.m. that morning Card processing came online a day and a half early. Home Banking came online a full day early, as did Mobile Banking. And, every teller in every office balanced their drawers each day the first week. From that standpoint, it went pretty well, and if you limit your evaluation to those criteria, you’d give it an “A”.
However, that isn’t the full story. Prior to conversion, a family member who has completed several conversions with national banks told me no amount of preparation can anticipate everything that will happen. He was right. A setting on the card vendor system over the conversion weekend caused over 1,000 debit transactions to post two days late. Expired automated transfers from the old system converted into the new system as current, causing late night manual corrections for several staff members. And, while the new Home Banking system worked really well, there was tremendous confusion about getting logged in the first time. This resulted in much longer wait times on the phone and in the lobby. If you are one of the members who was inconvenienced by these issues, we’d be lucky to get a “D” from you.
The Conversion was far from perfect, but given the scope and complexity, I’m not sure it could be perfect. While I would prefer that members never have negative experiences, I can’t fault our staff for their efforts to make it go as well as possible. Of the 30,000 hours spent in preparation, nearly 10,000 of those were ‘hours over 40 in a week’ worked by salaried employees. In addition, 90% of our pre-conversion training was at night or on weekends so as not to reduce the number of employees available to serve members in the offices.
Usage of the new system is already increasing. Almost everyone using Home Banking before the Conversion is back into the new Home Banking system. In November, the number of Mobile Banking users has increased 20% from before Conversion, and Bill Payer users are up by 10%.
More importantly, Metro now has an industry leading software, and a proven, stable system to accommodate our future growth. We’re still working out the bugs, and if you were negatively affected by the Conversion, you have my sincere apology. But, we’re going to get there. Converting wasn’t fun, but it was necessary, and it will pay dividends in the future. In the end, the new system will translate to more services and better member service in the future.