The choice of a programmatic or manual conversion of the merging credit union's data depends upon several factors.
How large is the merging credit union? The larger the merging credit union, the more difficult it is for the continuing credit union to supply the necessary clerical resources for a manual conversion.
Does the continuing credit union have the manpower to execute a manual conversion? If so, and if the CU has the requisite project management expertise, a manual conversion can be an excellent way to develop expertise in the continuing credit union's system among the employees from the merging CU.
How accurate and uniform is the data of the merging credit union? If the data needs to be scrubbed, programs can help in identifying incomplete and non-compliant data values. In many cases, human beings are needed to evaluate potential corrections. It may be more efficient to clean up the data in the process of a manual conversion.
Is it desirable for the conversion to be executed in a very short period of time, as in over a weekend? The advantage to a quick execution is that the transition period is minimized, and reduces the member-facing and back office resources required to support two systems. Rapid execution requires a programmatic conversion. (Please note: Execution is a separate issue from planning the conversion and developing the programs.)
Is it desirable, or acceptable, to stage the conversion over a period of time? A staged conversion mitigates the risk of errors with huge consequences since only a portion of the accounts is in transition at any given time. Staging also levels the clerical burden of a manual conversion. Outsourcing data conversion to the credit union's core vendor often seems to be less work, but a manual conversion can be easier.
Carol O. Stryker is principal of Symbiotic Solutions, an operations management consulting firm. She was previously CIO/CFO of Texas Dow Employees CU, and can be reached at CarolStryker@symbioticsols.com.