By Santiago Patiño, Scott Hodgins and Steve Williams
It’s 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 1st. The first day of post-core conversion operations has just transpired at the Wrongway National Bank, and a tired and punchy conversion team meets over cold coffee and stale pizza in the Command Center (a.k.a. East Training Room). Are all systems Go?
J. Ryan Davenport III, Retail Sales: Chaps, I know this is a “mandatory” meeting and all, but I have an important event at the club this afternoon. I still can’t understand why we scheduled a conversion on New Year’s Eve.
Alfonso Jenkins, Auditor/Caveman: Alfonso very angry. Last second conversion shortcuts mean everyone have same security access. Tellers access GL. Me catch proof operator do loan maintenance. No controls! Alfonso angry! Me light fire if me could.
Rex Steele, CIO: Chill the hell out, Alfonso. You need a shave and some sleep. I.T. has it under control. My sys ops personnel tell me that all of the blinking light thingies are in Full Blink Mode. I.T. can now declare the conversion a success.
Rich Noelke, I.T. Infrastructure: Affirmative, Rex. Red lights continue to signify Stop, while the green ones suggest Go. We have an amber Caution light blinking on several machines, and rest assured, my team is all over it. We’ve had some reports that the branches cannot print or use email, but what did they expect when we’re running an old version of Citrix? Those stupid users should have thought of that.
Rex Steele, CIO: As I previously decried, the conversion is a Success. All of the machines in that cold room are plugged in and fully operational. So far, no violence in the branches. Is that old cheese, or am I smelling SUCCESS, team?!
Imogene Williams, Marketing: Uh, Rex, I hate to rain on your parade, but Mary Covington just called in. You remember Mary, that pain-in-the-butt customer from the Rosemount branch? Well, she called to inform me that her debit card isn’t working. In fact, she said they announced over the PA at Wal-Mart that anybody in line planning to pay with a debit card from our bank may as well not bother trying. Did anyone test our card interface?
Rex Steele, CIO: Imogene, we don’t have the resources to test EVERYTHING. Send Mary another Wrongway Bank coin purse and thank her for the heads up. Let’s focus here: the new hardware works, and we tested the hell out of the core system. Debit’s an ancillary system. They call those kinds of systems ancillary for a reason. It’ll work out. We’ll get the STAR boys in here next week and folks can just direct their issues to the call center.
Trish Thedish, Call Center Manager: No more calls Rex! It’s bad enough that all these postal Internet banking users are threatening my team because we made them change their user IDs and passwords. It’s crazy! We’re of course working a skeleton crew in the call center after the recent downsizing. We can’t keep up!
Corey Snyder, Internet Banking: I have no idea why they’re calling the call center. We blasted out an email of new instructions for the conversion day log-in process six weeks ago….and if you go to our Web site under https:/www.wrongway.com/About Us/Information/Help/Tools/Log-In/Log-In Changes/New Procedures, it says it all right there. How hard is this?
David Gudberger, Operations: May I just say how pissed I am? Around here, we have a rich tradition of policies and procedures! If a customer wants to change their address, we make them fill out a three-part form. We scan it, email it to Audit for an OFAC check and address verification, log the pass-off onto our Excel tracking spreadsheet on the shared drive, and then Audit forwards the request form to Operations. We make the address change on core, put a Post-It note on the QC clerk’s monitor so he knows that an address change has been made, and he verifies the entry for accuracy. At that point, he signs off on the change, copies the request form, files it in his desk, sends a copy to me, records the change in the Access database, and types a verification letter for the customer. Well, it turns out, this great system we just HAD to convert to can’t even replicate this simple process. You I.T. guys never even thought about that. Admit it! Now what do we do – just let the platform reps enter address changes online?
Alfonso Jenkins, Auditor/Caveman: NO, NO, that anarchy! Me sign off on all address changes or me club I.T. man and drag him wife away by hair. Alfonso very angry!
Imogene Williams, Marketing: More bad news. Sherry, the manager at the Oak Street branch, just called to say that they’ve run a few mini-statements for our MegaPlatinum Free Checking customers. They all got assessed a $50 monthly fee last night, and none of them has overdraft privilege attached to the account anymore. Did you Branch Admin guys spend any time on product mapping at all?
J. Ryan Davenport III, Retail Sales: If I may, team, I recall emphasizing to all of you that this conversion must be “transparent” to my retail customers. While I admit my folks were a little distracted with the “Blowin’ Out the Pyrex” sales campaign during product mapping week, I’m very disappointed that these issues never came up during the system demos. Why didn’t the vendor mention we would have these issues when they sold us the system?
Rex Steele, CIO: This is starting to sound ugly and I think I know why. I.T. did its part, but clearly the business twerps have once again dropped the ball. Has anyone told the CEO we did a conversion yet?
Imogene Williams, Marketing: Of course not, we didn’t even tell our customers about it. Sometimes any communication is too much communication when it comes to computers. Customers just want to know their money is safe.
Trish Thedish, Call Center Manager: Well Rex, I tell you one thing. I wish you and Mr. Propeller-Head Noelke here hadn’t convinced me to bring up speech recognition on our automated voice response unit. By the time the customers give up on that annoying woman’s voice and zero out, they’re fuming. And two of our board members, Billy “Crawfish” Beaudroux and Sanjay Chandrasoma are really having issues. I’m sure management will find out.
Rich Noelke, I.T. Infrastructure: Trish…voice rec has been a proven technology for years. When I was with the airline it worked like a charm. Plus, this is only day one, let’s just let HAL, the voice rec box, learn for a few months. That what’s amazing about this fuzzy logic technology – HAL is smarter than anyone in our branches when you think about it. . .
Rex Steele, CIO: To summarize again, all Technology appears to have the Green light “Go” at this point. I think Ryan, Ima and Trish really need to work out these customer issues. Stewie, you better brew some coffee ‘cause you’ve got a lot of recon to knock out tonight.
Stewie Rothberg in Finance: I simply despise you technocrats. You promised at the Applebee’s project kickoff dinner that we could avoid GL issues with your so called “mock” conversion process. Your process was a miserable mockery all right. All our data blew up on the first “mock” and you said we ran out of time before we could actually do another one.
Alfonso Jenkins, Auditor/Caveman: Practice conversions good idea. Consultant project plan say we do mock two or three times. Why only one mock? Alfonso very angry!
David Gudberger, Operations: Yeah… speaking of consultants, I’d like to hear from the representatives here today from Paradigm Shifters. What went wrong? I thought you were going to make sure none of this happened?
Jerry Hilevel, Paradigm Shifter Consultant: Simply remarkable, our Gantt chart was up-to-date, the alignment map looked terrific, and those team-building exercises we all did… what a great time! I’m afraid to say I’m at a loss for words… Murphy and all his brothers appeared to have shown up today. Experience tells me that in today’s age of modularity, we simply must embrace the circle of innovation. But clearly we have suffered the innovator’s dilemma in this instance.
Imogene Williams, Marketing: I just wish I hadn’t got roped into this whole conversion team thing. I’m not a technologist. How come we started with 16 members and we’re down to nine? I got stuck with the whole United Way Campaign last year and now this. Why didn’t we just outsource this whole process?
Rex Steele, CIO: Obviously, you’re all a little new to this technology conversion game. This stuff happens all the time. Can’t be avoided. So be grown ups and deal with it. Rich and I will be in the data center if you need us.
Jerry Hilevel, Paradigm Shifter Consulting: I apologize, but I have Rose Bowl tickets and am already going to miss the first quarter.
David Gudberger, Operations: Take your alignment map and Who Ate My Cheese books and make yourself scarce, Jerry. We have real work to do here, like fixing 1,100 reject items before the Fed window closes.
Alfonso Jenkins, Auditor/Caveman: Alfonso worried none of this process SOX compliant… Me call KPMG tomorrow and try to get old job back. Then me re-invent wheel.
A Note to Gonzo Readers:
Many of us have had the misfortune of being involved in a Wrongway Bank scenario or two. Sometimes in the chaos of a typical financial institution, we forget the basic survival checklist in best practice conversions. Based on reviews of prior successful and difficult conversions, the brains at Cornerstone highlight the following conditions that often influence the end result:
Enjoy the weekend, GonzoBankers, unless of course this is conversion weekend for you!