A core banking system migration performed on time and within budget

In August 2016, the Stafford Railway Building Society (SRBS) awarded Mutual Vision a seven-year contract to provide its core banking services together with a digital proposition for improved engagement with intermediaries and customers.

Mutual Vision was contracted to replace the NSML solution which had been sold and supported by Newcastle Building Society. In recent years, Mutual Vision has successfully migrated customers from NSML, Sopra’s Summit and Unisys.

SRBS has 36 employees, 19,000 accounts with 15,000 voting members and an asset size of circa £263 million, as at 2017 year end.

Time for a change
The NSML system was essentially built to support Newcastle Building Society and had served Stafford Railway very well for a good number of years.

Over this time many enhancements and new functionality had been added but the society had not taken advantage of these, preferring to retain only those features which were necessary to support its own simple and straightforward model. The increasing demands of the ever evolving financial services market and regulation had meant that this approach was no longer viable. A move away from being a “one product society” and the need to offer a range of products exposed this to a large degree.

Susan Whiting, executive director at SRBS, said: “We needed to be quicker to respond to our members’ requirements by adding products and make changes – ultimately we needed to be in control of our own system.”

Making the right choice of partner
As the society’s existing contract with NSML approached its end, SRBS wanted to test it against other options, so it went to the market with a Request for Proposal (RFP) containing high level requirements.

Heather Hamilton, IT manager at SRBS, said: “We knew from previous experience and from general industry knowledge that the ProVision system was customer centric and would take us away from an account and code driven environment.”

Initial high-level research discounted several suppliers for reasons such as being too big, lack of proven track record or not having a hosted option available. A list of basic principles to base the selection process on was created.

I. Be mindful on how much change is required
II. Commitment to adhere to the system for future changes to processes
III. The system has to support the products and services SRBS delivers
IV. Identify potential changes for the future and ensure these can be supported.

An RFP was distributed to a shortlist and responses were tracked and marked against a predefined scoring matrix.

The society’s board established a small sub-committee to lead the project, but all departments were involved in the selection process and decision.

Speaking on the outcome of the tender process Heather said: “To be honest the cost for changing to ProVision, including the data migration process, versus making the changes required to the NSML system was not the determining factor in the end. A big plus for Mutual Vision was that it had recently completed a ProVision implementation project and data migration with Kingdom Bank.

“We also looked at track record and found that Mutual Vision had never missed a deadline when making system changes in response to regulatory changes. We were able to check our impressions of Mutual Vision with their other building society customers.

“We then considered the way the project would be handled and felt assured that Mutual Vision had the resources to meet the deadlines set and within budget. We felt protected by Mutual Vision’s promise that ours was the only back office migration they were undertaking at that time.

“Lastly, we acknowledged that starting with a new core system would enable us to identify and migrate the critical data required which would overall improve the data quality and increase our own understanding of our data.”

The deadline was set
Notice was given to NSML and a 12 month plan was drawn up to implement the new system.This allowed SRBS to test ProVision whilst running NSML, in order to cross check data and reports throughout the project.

Overall, SRBS hit the key milestones and met the 12-month deadline. That’s not to say that it didn’t encounter some challenges along the way, primarily in the form of SRBS suffering a security breach on a separate system which took up the three-month planned contingency. When delays beyond its control occurred, SRBS changed its testing strategy to ensure that the fundmentals were fully tested, with other non-critical functions being re-scheduled to test post migration. There were a few other minor bumps in the road which were dealt with effectively to avoid any further delays.

Speaking on the implementation process George Webb, chief executive of Mutual Vision, said: “SRBS was organised, committed and pragmatic – we could not have asked for more.”

The digital future for SRBS
Now SRBS has ProVision as its core system is looking at its digital future.

SRBS is in the process of implementing Mutual Vision’s ProVision Broker system for which it is in test phase with a view to go live mid-2018. This will enable SRBS to improve the Intermediary and end customer experience by providing an easier and more efficient application process.

SRBS is also considering its requirements for online banking which will form the next phase of its digital strategy.

Reaping the rewards
SRBS saw immediate benefits on the mortgage application process and has taken advantage of the flexibility of Provision to build a robust process fully supported by the system. As well as the improvements in the presentation of data and customer information, there has been great improvement in the production of documents across all functions. ProVision’s flexibility has been a catalyst for change and the introduction of workflow principles has improved efficiency and created solid hand offs in the process between teams and individuals.

There were also immediate time savings when processing the tax year-end, with the task being carried out using fewer staff and in a shorter timeframe.

On a similar note, the quarterly MLAR submission processing time is being reduced as the data can be set correctly to make the most of the built-in system report.

Holistically, ProVision has forced process review and has been a catalyst for positive change. The team is working with a much more integrated approach with defined roles and responsibilities and its trust in the data output and interrogation is gaining strength.

From a customer perspective, they will benefit from a quicker product launch process, as SRBS will be able to respond to its customers’ needs by getting products to market in a much shorter timeframe.

Through the implementation of the ProVision Broker portal, potential new customers will benefit from enhanced customer experience with immediate affordability checks, reduced paperwork and a speedier application process.

The future
Heather from SRBS continued: “Overall the implementation and migration to ProVision has been a positive experience and we are already enjoying improvements in efficiency and team cohesion. SRBS is looking to focus on further process improvements both in back office and customer facing functions.

“We now feel that we are in charge of our own destiny and since going live on ProVision we have launched two products and the system was the least of our worries.

“The implementation and migration was completed on time and within budget which is a true reflection of how the project was managed and the support received.”

George summarised: “There is a real fear in the market that core systems’ replacements are too painful to consider. Our strategy is to convince the market this is not the case and that not only can systems be replaced within 12 months, with minimum disruption to the business, but there can be a clear return on investment in the short to medium term.”

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