White Paper completed by Credit Union Tech-Talk and Connections CU and is available HERE.
Why did a now, 11 location CU choose ESP?
Connections Credit Union came to fruition after Idaho Advantage Credit Union joined with Potelco United Credit Union. The result was a credit union that has a history of proudly serving Eastern and Western Idaho for over 75 years – today they have over 22,000 members. The credit union is known for their excellence in member service, local attitude, and old fashioned Credit Union honesty and integrity, which is why they have chosen to partner with a core systems vendor that shares those exact same ideals: Enhanced Software Products, Inc. (ESP).
Brian Osberg, President and CEO of Connections Credit Union, and his team made the decision to move to ESP’s Windows-based FORZA³™ system in 2011. Osberg is a true credit union renaissance man – he started in the credit union movement almost 30 years ago as a computer operator and has worked his way up the ladder at various positions all the way to the corner office. He recalls “before we outsourced to ESP, we had an in-house core system that a couple of us maintained without any IT support. Hardware and software maintenance were expensive and security was always a concern, so it was a no-brainer to switch to a service bureau model.”
The question was: which outsourced vendor would be the best for the growing credit union? Osberg had met ESP representatives at a credit union league meeting back in 2009 and was impressed with them and their system. But of course he and his team looked at other options and performed due diligence on all of their potential providers. “We talked to other credit unions using ESP and they were great references,” says Osberg, “plus their system is super user friendly so we felt very comfortable choosing them.”
Every credit union employee is nervous about their core system conversion, but the team at ESP has decades of successful conversion experience under their belts. According to Osberg, “the conversion went smoothly – it was great overall!” While ESP’s trainers got Connections’ staff up to speed quickly on the new software, their conversion team was able to convert the existing database and provide years of past member financial history in the new platform. Not only did this conversion go smoothly, but so did others: 1) when Idaho Advantage, which was a client of ESP, merged with Potelco to form Connections and 2) when two other credit unions join Connections shortly after the Idaho Advantage merger. Osberg notes that “working with ESP is almost like having our own personalized IT Department that gets things done quickly and efficiently.”
Once the system was up and running and Connections was live at all of their 11 branches, the credit union was pleased to find out that the top notch service levels continued. “We have direct access to their top executives,” states Osberg, and “it is really refreshing to work with a company that believes in zero bureaucracy.” Special reports and minor changes only incur small charges at ESP, and the company prides itself on listening to their customers. Osberg explains that “while the system has great functionality and does everything that we need it do, ESP is still very open to new ideas and updates. They are always adding new features and keeping up with regulatory changes for us.”
With $143M in assets, Connections is not a small credit union, but at the same time they do not have a huge technology budget like larger institutions. Osberg appreciates the fact that ESP bundles many digital feature into their modules so that it is affordable for his members to use online and mobile banking, and that the credit union can offer instant issue debit cards. He concludes that “ESP is always there for us in every situation and we truly consider them our business partner for the long term.”