The Manhattan Beach, CA-based Kinecta Federal Credit Union (KFCU) is one of the nation’s leading credit unions with more than $4 billion in assets serving 200,000 member-owners across the nation. In 2002, KFCU opted to covert from Ultrafis, the Harland Financial Solution. Designated as a core systems selection and conversion “clinic,” this project exemplified how an end-to-end process is successfully executed.
In 2001, under the leadership of then CEO Tom Graham and CIO Rudy Perreira, a core selection and conversion team was assembled. The goal was to review the existing core platform to determine if adjustments were necessary to sustain continued growth. After a thorough evaluation process, the KFCU changed course by selecting the Episys platform offered by Jack Henry Associates.
Samaha Associates was an instrumental member of the assembled core team. Our primary role was to advise and participate in all focus areas with a concentration on member facing delivery channels. From the onset, we experienced a significant challenge due to the fact that the conversion transpired during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. Despite inopportune timing, we secured the key member delivery channels, managed the transfer of transactions taking place in Store and Forward, and set member expectations at the pinnacle of KFCU’s transaction usage period.
Leading up to the “festive” conversion weekend, and to ensure a predictable outcome, we created project plans, visual diagrams, specifications documents, scripts and tests, and hosted periodical meetings and mock conversion test applications. Additionally, we ensured that all channels’ transactions were secure and the accounts and corresponding channels’ related records (card records, usernames and passwords et al) were properly converted to the new system. This ensured that each transaction would find its corresponding match and post to the correct account.
Despite due diligence and best intentions, we could not anticipate that the water main located in the building would rupture sending floods into the Annex Building Phone Switch and LAN Relay Racks! Luckily, our IT group, in collaboration with water damage experts, fully restored functionality by the end of the weekend at which point the new system was successfully launched.
The following Monday morning, KFCU opened its doors as scheduled. The new systems were fully functional bringing in 95,000 transactions from Store and Forward. Aside from 48 transaction exceptions, our post mortem punch-list was manageable with no operational discourse.
Samaha Associates proudly supported CEO Tom Graham and CIO Rudy Perreira’s initiative to diligently explore new technological platforms. An enlightened eighteen month intensive journey ensued with the collective goal of increasing KFCU’s overall operational performance. Despite a pressing holiday weekend schedule, complete with an uncontrollable snafu, success was realized.
Today, KFCU maintains a stable IT department and core operating platform which has transformed a once reactive organization to a proactive, progressive trailblazer. Building on this momentum, KFCU created its own online banking product and continues, with advisory oversight, to investigate and avail itself of innovative concepts.
Shortly after the successful launch of Kinecta Federal Credit Union’s Episys platform, Samaha Associates was contracted to participate in multiple projects at ChevronTexaco FCU, known today as Chevron FCU.
Our responsibilities included:
- Developing a core systems conversion and Debit/Credit Card processor conversion.
- Certifying and deploying the new Debit and Credit Card processor (along with the involvement of an in-house Front End Intercept Processor) onto the old core platform.
- Certifying and deploying the new Debit and Credit Card processor (along with the involvement of the in-house Front End Intercept Processor) onto the new core platform.
- Implementing the new core platform.
Similar to Kinecta FCU, this project involved a conversion from Ultrafis to Episys. To this end, we were able to implement our project as successfully with minimum impact to the domestic Credit Union membership Chevron servers.
The core conversions, and balancing, were successful. The third parties all converted with minimum impact, minimum exception and most importantly, with maximum member transparency.
This project was implemented while we were completing a similar project with the Capitola, CA-based Bay Federal OSI conversion. The live dates were three months apart. The successful completion of these simultaneous projects served to underscore Samaha Associates unique ability to implement both Symitar and OSI conversions concurrently. As a result of these experiences, we gained greater insight into core conversion management practices including:
- Enriching our capabilities and delivering quantifiable results while executing parallel core conversions.
- Enriching our knowledge of the key credit union core systems providers, particularly how they operate when faced with an aggressive schedule.
- Deepening our relationships with these key providers via successfully completed conversions.
As a result of these concurrent launches, Samaha Associates has been contracted by various credit unions that were interested in addressing their respective core operating systems. Our clients feel secure placing their trust in our capable hands with the understanding that project variables are addressed regardless of scheduling restraints. To this end, we have recently completed eight merger projects and have expanded our relationships, which have afforded us the opportunity to work with different deconverting and converting vendors including Summit Information Systems, Aftech, CGI, CUSA and XP Systems.