On the morning of go-live, we flipped the switch to activate online banking for the first time for members. Actually, it was a few minutes early just to double check the system was still working properly. Countless times we'd gone through this routine; but today, it was the real thing. The real deal. Switching a system to production mode for the first time is a tense affair, where all manner of people will poke and prod in ways surely unexpected. Pulling knobs here, rattling doors there, sneaking peeks in the bathroom medicine cabinet to see what's inside. Like water, the members find their way into every part of the system.

Of course, things are found and things are missed. You just hope it isn't something major. The worst fear of rolling out a new system is the rush of users causing the system to melt down. Too many people registering at the same time. Too many sign-ins happening at once. To be honest, the worst fear for an online banking system is a problem with money; double transfers, triple payments, missing transactions, etc. Thankfully, none of those occurred. Why not? One word: preparation.

Preparation is the enemy of failure, so prepare we did. The onslaught of members registering for a new system on the first day will shake the foundation your online house is built upon. You must ensure that your online house is in perfect order. You must account for every guest of that house, and their unexpected friend that tags along. Prepare to expect the unexpected. Just don't be bad at rolling the system out for the first time. Easy. Simple. Got it!

Accessing the system requires that a member is registered. The most efficient way to register a member is to not require they register in the first place. Easy enough. We pre-registered all the members into our system and enabled dual-channel authentication, which checks the username and password against the old system and converts them to the new system. A seamless transition from the old banking platform to the shiny new one. Don't get me wrong, it required a fair amount of work to create the dual-authentication flow. But what's the other option, require everyone to re-register? That's not a good member experience.

After signing in the members will need to view their accounts. Here's another place where some careful planning can grease the transition to the new system. Viewing accounts requires querying the core for all the data related to the member. What accounts can they access? What are their balances? What are the transactions for this particular share or loan? These queries can generate many data requests to the core system. We take a look in our toolbox of crafty ideas. There! Out we pull the trusty old pre-loading trick again.

Every time a member signs in, we get their data and cache it. We don't want to query the core every time a member switches a screen or opens a drop down menu. That just doesn't scale well. We use a complicated difference calculation to determine when things change so we only ask the core for what we need, at the time we need it. The core system is treated as the source of truth but caching greatly improves the access times. We primed the cache before flipping the go-live switch to ease the member's transition to the new system. Another benefit was predictable data flows that reduced load on the core system.

As the first day came to a close, we gathered our notes on what we needed to do to improve the user experience. Some things were not so obvious to the members, like clicking on "Credentials" to reset their username or password. In hindsight, it was obvious credentials was not a good choice to describe password resets. We made the fixes and moved on to the next day.

We'd prepared for quite a while to ensure a great member experience with the new system. That directly translates to a better credit union experience as well. After all, we are a service organization that delivers software, which is an important distinction. You look at your role completely differently when you put the credit union and their members first in the name of service.

We couldn't have asked for a better credit union to work with. Hats off to The Local Credit Union and their fantastic team of hardworking, honest, and helpful people. Especially Joe, a straight shooting, roll up your sleeves and lets do this together kind of guy. Without Joe this wouldn't have been possible. (And not just because he's the CEO)

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