Service Bureau: The Right Choice?

In-House vs. Service BureauAn important question every credit union must address is where shall I host my data? There are two distinct models of hosting credit union data and software: in-house and service bureau. Both have their pluses and minuses but for this post we’ll concentrate on the benefits of a service bureau model.

After superior customer service the most vital element of a successful credit union is a powerful and easy to use core. All transactions, either in-person or online, occur with an interaction with a core processing solution. Anytime a credit union employee or member interacts with their account they are, in fact, accessing the core. Having a core that can handle the heavy demands of simultaneous in-branch, online and mobile transactions will keep members happy by avoiding delays in service.

Core processing is a key feature of a credit union that will get very little notice from your members –  and that’s the way it should be. If your core is running properly your members could care less about which architecture you choose to run your system on. When “the computers are down” is the point where your customers will really start to share their concerns about your choice of how you run your core.

The In-House Solution

Many credit unions choose to use the option to run their core software from their own premises. This is the “in-house” solution. Generally they are larger with memberships over 10,000 members and may have multiple branches. In-house credit unions must accept all the responsibility for data security and IT management. It’s a very big responsibility.

The upside for a credit union running a self-hosted system is that is may be able to save money if they can maintain a large enough margin of the cost of the core software over the cost of running their own IT department. And here’s a shocker, IT staffers don’t come cheaply and they like to take days off occasionally. Both of these factors will affect your ability to maintain a significant margin.

Service Bureau

At ESP, we provide core processing solutions to most of our clients through our service bureau. It is a great fit for most credit unions where the staff needs to spend the majority of its time on member service instead of managing IT.

The ESP service bureau scope of service includes:

  • We maintain your instance of FORZA3
  • We send and receive all transmission files
  • 24/7/365 round-the-clock IT support
  • We answer the phone – no third-party support
  • No on-premises servers for you to maintain, secure, update or upgrade
  • Extended End Of Day (EOD) because of our Pacific Time Zone location
  • Your staff can leave soon after your doors close – no waiting hours for EOD to process
  • We create all End Of Year tax forms and submit them to the IRS

Making the Right Choice

Choosing the correct model of hosting your core processor doesn’t have to be a difficult decision. Just figure out where your strengths lie. Are they are in IT management or in providing great customer service to members? If you need more information in your due diligence please email us at