With the economy shifting south, coupled with the NCUA assessment fee to bail out the Corporate Credit Unions, small credit unions can combine forces to compete better and provide more value to their membership. I am observing a trend toward small credit unions merging on a much more rapid scale than I have seen in the past. The merging of credit unions is not noteworthy in and of itself, however I do believe that mergers that combine to reach the $100 million plus range are going to increase.
When considering a merger, it is critical to establish relationships with experts you can turn to if you go forward. These experts should span all operations in the credit union, and be able to weigh in on questions such as:
· What are the best practices in merging a credit union?
· How do you merge IT departments without adding risk?
· How to plan for and cut waste during a merger?
· How can risk be mitigated?
· What is the best way to leverage the opportunity to build in efficiencies?
· What functions can be strategically outsourced?
· What processes can be integrated?
· How should IT integration be handled?
Credit Union Merger Questionnaire – Information Technology
The following questionnaire pertains to the last point, and represents the starting point for planning and implementing effective IT integration for a credit union merger. These questions are intended to bring up important issues that must be planned for in the IT space, and to start discussions that will lead to effective decision making.
High Level Objectives/ Co-Existence Plan
- Is the objective for the merger: To attain one united front or identity with the leveraged strength of a partnership……
- or is the goal of the merger to maintain dual identities with the leveraged strength of a partnership?
- What is the plan for the existing domain names and the new domain name? Is there a timeline set for the old.org sites to disappear and one new.org to replace them, or will the old sites remain in place?
- What is the plan for the email utility in the new entity? What is the timeline for implementation? Will there be coexistence of emails between domains?
- How will home banking be presented to the members? What is the timeline for the change?
- What SSL Certificates can be merged, deleted and/or re-used (web sites, ssl vpns, etc.)?
- Is there a common encryption policy for sending information to third parties ( e.g. credit card processing via PGP, or does one of the entities have ZIx email encryption)?
- What is the encryption goal? Are there any vendors that require specific encryption technology?
- What is the end goal for the phone system and call center/ member services? Is there a timeline set for the convergence of the systems?
o PRI analysis – what is the call routing plan?
o Are you launching with core phone system functionality first and then integrating Call Center functionality after the merger?
- What is the goal for integration and collapse of the networks (WAN – MPLS)? Applications (like imaging, etc.)? Data bases? Other elements?
o Has a cost analysis been completed for the infrastructure WAN collapse of the two entitities? Data, Voice (long distance/local)
o What questions does one need to ask when integrating carriers – Sprint, ATT, Qwest, Verizon, and Paetech for example? (This blog link is an overview of questions to ask. http://itcustrategy.com/category/mpls/)
- How are third parties (PSCU, FedLine, DI, etc. ) being addressed? Which third parties will remain? Are there redundancies? Which ones are going away?
On my next post I will examine most technical questions that I have to ask myself when helping a credit union during a merger.