IT Director, Capitol Federal Savings ($8.2 billion), Topeka, Kansas
Work prior to Capitol Federal:
Baker University of Lawrence, Business Degree
Working on MBA at Washburn University of Topeka
What recent projects have you been working on?
A core conversion combined with a swap out of all of the technology including new Internet banking site, new data warehouse, new imaging systems, new mainframe, new teller systems and new loan origination systems.
This, Gonzos, was the mother lode of all conversions! Bob’s team pretty much replaced everything except the branch carpet. Actually, they might have done that in their spare time… …
Could you give us an overview of the system selection due diligence or test lab project that you led at your bank?
We started the system selection process in 2003 by selecting a consultant and then we asked their assistance in narrowing down the vendor list. Being an in-house developed and extremely customized shop, we weren’t sure what vendors we should be looking at for a best fit and whether we should be in-house or service bureau. We spent six months selecting the vendor and three months doing the due diligence.
The conversion project itself started in January 2006 and we just went live in January 2007. Remembering that we were converting everything in the bank from in-house written code to a new shrink-wrap offering, we had to do an immense amount of data conversion and product setup. In our case, the user acceptance testing phase of the project was by far the key to our success because with a total switch out of the technology, we had to really focus on getting operational in an offline environment without interrupting our normal daily operations.We also wanted to physically get our bankers out of their daily routines so they could focus on the new systems. To accomplish this we took over an entire floor of the bank and set up a full environment with all of the servers, workstations and peripherals for all of the core and ancillary systems. Eventually we had 35 UAT workstations, all of which were busy at times. We ran four mock conversions prior to going live, and, as a result, our business units got what they expected at the final conversion.
Being able to test all of the peripherals and electronic banking channels (Internet banking, bill pay, ATMs, pin pads, etc.) in a test environment and then roll that environment into production gave us a good comfort level that we would be able to go live with minimal interruptions.
What were the keys to success on this project?
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have hired a consultant to provide project management services outside of the core vendor. While our core vendor was extremely competent from a technical perspective and as good as its word on deliverables (how often does that happen in our business?), I doubt anyone would accuse them of being too organized from a project management perspective. Project control isn’t something that can be outsourced. And on really large projects, the internal IT staff can be consumed with getting the technology working.
Who on your team would you like to give credit to for helping make this project successful?
All of my staff. We threw the new technology at them and they had to decide whether they were going to step up or fall behind. To a person, each of our 42 IT members grabbed a piece of the new infrastructure and figured it out and got us going on the new systems.
Special tribute has to go to Tammy VandeVelde, who took over the entire development organization and worked through the retooling of the business analysts to support the new core system, and David Oliver, who led his technicians to put in the new hardware and operating infrastructure (including a new backup data center) to support the new core and ancillary systems.
What would you do for a living if you weren’t in banking?
I would love someday to teach business classes at a small university – maybe in the Caribbean so I could watch the crazy tourists in the evening. Let’s see, Bob, teaching business classes in the Caribbean, huh? Yeah, sign us up too.
Favorite movie of all time:
Most underrated rock and roll album of all time:
Don McLean, “American Pie.” Well, Bob, we are not certain good ol’ Don would be considered rock and roll, but I imagine we could let it slide… this time.
Two thumbs way up to Bob and his team. Cornerstone is pleased to donate $250 in Bob’s name to the charity of his choice, the American Cancer Society.
Combining project management methodology, budgetary oversight and effective communication tools, Cornerstone Advisors’ Conversion Oversight Services save you time and money and help ensure a smooth and well-timed conversion.
With Cornerstone acting in the role of mentor, advisor and best practice provider, our clients are ensured that all aspects of the conversion are covered and that the intellectual capital and skills they will need post-conversion are retained in-house.
Cornerstone Advisors is backed by more than a decade of experience assisting well over 100 financial institutions make educated vender decisions.
Contact Cornerstone today to take some of the stress out of your system conversion.