With almost $5 billion in assets and 340,000+ members worldwide, Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU) is one of the largest and most influential credit unions in the United States. This progressive and visionary financial institution has the wherewithal to implement any technological solution that they believe will add value to their members. When it was time to replace their legacy core system, BECU wasn’t looking at a simple data conversion project, but rather an enterprise-wide process redesign implementation. Their choice for the lead solution: The Complete Credit Union Solution from Open Solutions Inc.
While many credit unions go through a long drawn out Request For Proposal (RFP) development process, BECU chose to develop a more concise RFP for their “DELTA Project” that was architecturally and member driven. They also departed from many other credit unions in that they included many different departments in their selection team. While many credit unions rely heavily on their Information Technology (IT) Division to make system replacement decisions, BECU’s selection team of over a dozen people only included a couple of IT staff. After a three – four month market assessment, BECU’s cross-departmental team found Open Solutions to be the best solution provider because Open Solutions’ system offering met their integration strategy of gathering member information from a wide range of delivery points into one relational database. Butch Leonardson, Vice President of Information Technology for BECU, says that “one of our main criteria was a completely open architecture and Open Solutions was the only company that was truly open and flexible.”
Since BECU had previously selected Open Solutions’ lending transaction processing solution to manage their consumer loan servicing, they were quite familiar with Open Solution’s technology, corporate philosophy, development team, and technical support. With such a positive track record, Leonardson explains that “Open Solutions was at the top of our list of vendors to replace our entire transaction system – they were the only one that fit our vision.” This importance becomes much clearer when you consider that BECU installed a total of seven software applications during the conversion process. In Leonardson’s words, “monolithic core system providers” could never have possibly accomplished this daunting integration task. “It was an easy decision to go with Open Solutions since they have such an agile and effective integration strategy,” adds Leonardson.
Orchestrating the largest technology conversion in credit union history was a BECU team of over fifty people. Again somewhat surprisingly, the IT Division did not dominate the team: only fourteen IT staff was involved because the IT Division is committed to serving the needs of all of the business units across the credit union. According to Leonardson, “we are in the service business and we need to be in a position where we can implement business initiatives quickly.” Thanks to a tremendous amount of planning, cross-departmental cooperation, and excellent vendor support there was a minimal effect on operations and member service. As for Open Solutions’ part in the conversion, some of their support team actually moved to Seattle with their families for the summer of 2002 while they tested the BECU data and conversion strategy. Leonardson is happy to report that “in their areas of responsibility in this ambitious project, Open Solutions' personnel did a great job.”
The DELTA Project spanned fourteen months and converted over one million account numbers. With this monumental project completed, the IT Division could turn their attention to new projects that their business unit clients were interested in implementing. Because of the stability and flexibility of the new environment, BECU has been able to focus on new initiatives that add value and new services to their members, instead of operating in a “maintenance mode” that characterizes so many financial institutions’ technology efforts. For example, this year BECU is rolling out services geared towards the small business member, as well as a much wider range of savings and loan products. Thanks to the openness, flexibility and power of Open Solutions’ transaction engine, BECU is now free to select from a broad range of applications and roll out the software solutions that best meet their business needs; and most importantly, bring these new applications online quickly and affordably. Leonardson states that “Open Solutions has proven to be an excellent strategic partner for us – they are a very professional company with an excellent leadership team.”