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Connection Credit Union (CCU) was founded in 1958 as the City of Bremerton Employees Credit Union. For over 50 years, through 7 moves, 2 name changes, membership growth of over 10,000% and total assets now nearing $25 million, the credit union has continued to offer products and services to meet the changing needs of their membership. A key part of being able to grow and better serve their members is determined by the credit union’s choice of a core data processing system. In CCU’s case, they have partnered with Enhanced Software Products, Inc. (ESP), one the credit union industry’s best and most respected core systems providers.
Scott Prior, CCU’s CEO, calls the credit union-core vendor affiliation “by far the most important relationship that a credit union will ever have.” Prior would know – he has years of credit union experience as an IT director and CEO. His deep understanding of both technology and operations led him to ESP: “they are aligned with our service philosophy and our desire to remain relevant to our members, plus they have deep roots in the credit union movement.” Before converting to ESP’s powerful FORZA3™ system, CCU faced many of the same issues credit unions have to cope with when they are working on older systems: poor technical support, expensive modules, an outdated user interface, and legacy system limitations.
When the legacy system contract came due, CCU knew it was time for change if they wanted to convert to a new modern system that would help them grow and better serve their members in western Washington. After considering a handful vendors and performing extensive due diligence for many months, Prior explains that “when we compared features, benefits and costs, ESP clearly rose to the top.” Prior also appreciated ESP’s flexibility in contract negotiations – he notes that “they understand how smaller credit unions operate and were willing to work with us to make sure that we would have everything that we need to serve our members.” For ESP, it was business as usual, which means an “all-in-one” approach that circumvents costly ala carte services and delivers a wide range of tools from shared branching to online/mobile banking and much more.
Because the FORZA3™ platform is Windows-based, employee training was quick and easy on the new system. Prior acknowledges that “FORZA3™ is very intuitive and we simply added an icon on each employee’s desktop that took them to a test database. It was very simple to deploy and our staff picked it up easily.” ESP also takes an active approach to every conversion by placing three employees on site for the first week, and three dedicated support people remotely ready at their Spokane, WA headquarters. Prior states that “ESP is noted for their low employee turnover rates and we know that many of them have been there for ten years or more. They did an excellent job of holding our hand throughout the entire conversion process.”
In addition to getting a modern, affordable and easy-to-use, system, CCU has enjoyed efficiency gains. According to Prior, “the ESP platform is so complete that we were able to shed numerous third party vendors which saved us many management headaches and lots of money.” Online and mobile banking, e-statements, laser check printing, in-depth reporting, and digital signature pads are just some of the latest technologies that ESP delivers as part of their comprehensive package. Prior describes it as “a big leap forward working with ESP for us and our members.” He concludes that “ESP adds so much value for us and really helps us make a difference in our members’ lives. They know how to take care of us and we have complete trust in their capabilities.”