Vancouver credit union uses new SQL system to drive better service

A Vancouver-based credit union is banking on a Microsoft SQL Server-based system to enhance its business operations, as well as its ability to serve customers.

North Shore Credit Union (NSCU) of North Vancouver, BC recently deployed a Temenos T24TM banking system supported by Microsoft SQL Server 2005.

Especially attractive to NSCU are the new system’s 24-hour data processing and business continuity features.

NSCU – which manages more than $2 billion in assets and has more than 40,000 members – selected the Temenos Group of Vancouver to deploy the new system.

The credit union’s previous core banking product – the VisionWest system from Open Solutions – “tied CRM to a batch update process that was not good for business,” noted Fred Cook, chief information officer, NSCU.

He said when employees needed the most recent client information they often had to wait 24 hours for the database to update and provide the CRM system with fresh information. “This is certainly not good when the client is standing in front of you.”

When Open Solution informed NSCU that the credit union’s banking system was being discontinued, Cook felt in was the perfect time to investigate other alternatives.

He said he was attracted to T24 because of the “breadth of functionality” it offered. “We didn’t need to slog through developing services; we could just go right into rapid deployment.”

With T24, he said, NSCU workers can now access information from the database almost instantly.

“Integration is solid. The real-time interface enables client-facing employees to get information in less than five minutes,” said Cook.

The new system also cuts the need for repeated data entry.

Rather than keying in the same client information every time a new file or account is opened for a customer, employees can now grab the data from the core system and enter it into the CRM system “without opening multiple windows or applications.”

Several features of the Microsoft-Temenos system met NSCU’s needs.

For instance, T24 comes with a BI suite that “integrates right out of the box,” noted Sujan Menezes, industry manager, financial services at Microsoft Canada.

He said “price” was also a key factor in sealing the deal.

Menezes said while with other vendor offerings, the customer may have to pay extra for reporting and management features, the SQL-backed product bundles them together at no additional cost.

Core systems deployed by community banks are often called “bank in a box” according to Jamie Sharp, vice-president of customer segments for IDC Canada.

“These products contain all the systems and technology, such as accounting fraud management, compliance and systems architecture necessary to run the business,” he said.

Larger banks would typically require core systems that process debits and credits for deposits and loan account transactions, while mid-market institutions have systems for BI, CRM, call centre and Internet banking.

Sharp said organizations that went through a core transformation, such as NSCU, typically have three alternatives: rip and replace existing systems; replace components for an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary change; or integrate existing and new systems using Web-based technologies.

He said component-based replacement enables organizations to ease into the change, while addressing key pain points, while the third option provides the benefits of a new system while leaving the core system intact.

Cook said when replacing NSCU’s core system they chose the complete overhaul method.

“We just shut down the old system and replaced it with the new one.”

He said this was fairly easy to accomplish because of his company’s size. “Had we been one of the top five banks, the process would have been trickier.”

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