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What’s at the core of your “core” decision?

Criteria to consider when choosing a core provider:

  • Functionality: the core’s ability to support the credit union’s strategic goals and to help your employees to perform their jobs better
  • Cost: the value your credit union receives in return for your investment in the new core
  • Architecture: the vendor’s ongoing investment in the core you choose (i.e. receiving continual updates/upgrades to the core as technologies change)
  • Organization strength: the financial position of the organization behind the core
  • Impact: how switching cores will impact your credit union. The question is, will you and your team understand the impact? The ongoing support you receive from the core during conversion is critical.
By: Matt Cole, PSCU member development executive

Matt ColeMay 28, 2015 -- Paper or plastic? Debit or credit? Android or Apple? Every day we face little decisions that affect our way of life. (Before anyone sends me an email, though, I just want to say I fully recognize the gravity of the Android vs. Apple decision!)

Most of the decisions we face have fairly minor impact, though. What about the decisions with lasting effects? For example, choosing a core provider for your credit union is anything but minor.

Whether you call it a data processor, a host, or something similar, switching your core provider is a huge decision. Just like tossing a pebble into still waters, the ripple effects of this decision, good or bad, will carry onward and outward, touching all facets of your credit union.

Looking for expanded functionality

So, what should you look for in your next core provider? When asked this same question, most CEOs I speak with offer different versions of the same overall theme: expanded functionality. This phrase can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, including the following:

  • Better analytics tools
  • An enhanced user-interface (CU staff)
  • A more convenient user-interface

Those are just a few examples of what expanded functionality can mean for staff and credit union personnel, but if I had to give you my top bullet point on expanded functionality, it would be the ability to customize and interface with third-party applications. In fact, that ability to interface may just take home the gold, silver, and bronze medals as a top reason why most credit unions are choosing their new core.

Allowing for customization options

Core providers today are realizing that credit unions want the ability to customize their experiences. Providers such as FISERV-DNA and SYMITAR–EPISYS, just to name a couple, have taken notice and are beginning to allow credit unions to use what I’ll call a “Software Development Kit.” This type of “kit” allows credit unions to write new functionality or custom programming that can be presented differently onto existing core screens.

For example, a credit union could create a seamless experience through coding for a third-party loan origination system if they chose to do so. Some of the more legacy cores don’t allow this functionality, trying to make you fit your needs into their models. Just as you are focused on your member’s needs, your core should be focused on yours.

Allowing for integration of third-party applications

On the other side of the “interface coin” is the ability for third-party applications to integrate with your core. Said differently, it’s one thing for the core to be able to interface with a third party; it’s quite another for the third party to be able to actively engage with the core to achieve the goal your credit union has in mind.

For example, the hot topic in today’s cards industry is real-time integration. In order to achieve real-time integration, the core and your card processor must be able to work together.

In closing, allowing expanded functionality to play a big role in your next core decision can go a long way to ensure that pebble I mentioned earlier doesn’t turn into a boulder.


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