7 Conditions of Success Help Guide Core Conversion

By Joe Walsh, Direct FCU President/CEO, for the Credit Union Times

A few years ago, I was at an industry event listening to the CEO of a fairly large credit union discuss the ups and downs inherent in the CEO role. He offered that the most stressful experience he had endured over a long and successful career was his credit union’s recent core conversion. He described it as rebuilding your car’s engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, electronics and fuel-injection systems . . . while driving down the highway at 75 miles an hour.  He added one more thing: Not one of the passengers in the car can experience any disruption throughout the trip. I took his words to heart, and successfully whistled by the graveyard of a 36-year-old core until we could whistle no more. The time had come.

I am a firm believer that mindset is everything. I often think of the words of Charles Swindoll: “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it . . . We are in charge of our attitudes.” Certainly, our core conversion would be a mountain of work. It would challenge every skill we had, our project management, problem solving, communication and conflict resolution capabilities, just to name a few. But it would also offer unprecedented opportunities. The Direct team knew we would have to overcome the challenges, but we chose to embrace the opportunities and take full advantage of them.

We identified seven conditions of success beyond the obvious operational and technological measures inherent in a core conversion. These seven conditions of success came right out of our core values and strategic goals. We committed to using the core conversion to further embed these seven elements into our culture.


Credit Union Times: Direct Federal Credit Union is a one-branch, $750 million credit union located in Needham, Mass. It is undergoing its first core conversion since 1984 and has partnered with CU Times to document its journey until the new core is anticipated go live in 2021. Contributing authors will be members of the project team and each article will tell a story from a different point of view. Read previous articles and continue to follow along at www.cutimes.com/instant-insights/.