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The Renewal Challenge

By Jessica Wolfe 9 May 2017

Jay Ann Gilfoy, of Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity), tells Jessica Wolfe about the strategy behind renewing the technology driving Vancity’s personal and business banking lines.

Vancity is a financial services cooperative, and Canada’s largest credit union, with more than $25 billion in assets and over 523,000 member-owners. The organization went live on Temenos’ CorporateSuite and RetailSuite at the end of 2016 as part of a business transformation.

JW: Can you tell us a little about your background?

JAG: I’ve been in various roles over the past several years leading teams through organizational and business transformation initiatives, so Vancity brought me in, in 2014 to help drive this transformation forward with the new banking system implementation. My profession is in Human Resources but now that I have led two very large core systems implementations, I have crossed over to business and technology leadership.

JW: What were some of the driving factors that led Vancity to initiate this renewal project?

JAG: While Vancity has had an incredible level of success throughout its history, we wanted to make sure we maintained that momentum. In order to figure out how to best move forward, it was necessary to understand where we were, so we started evaluating our daily work patterns. As we did so, we discovered that we wanted to alter the way our employees worked, how they interacted with our technology, and ultimately how they interact with our members. We wanted our employees to worry less about managing processes and technology, and have more capacity to focus on and support our account holders. So that goal become the key driving factor behind this project. As part of that, we realized our legacy technology was making it difficult and time-consuming to innovate and offer new services and expand on our current offerings. It became clear that we needed to upgrade in order to leverage new technologies and transform the way we work.

JW: What were your objectives for this core transformation journey?

JAG: We had four over-arching objectives:

  1. Reducing the risk associated with aging technology systems
  2. Enhancing our ability to offer new products and services while speeding up time-to-market
  3. Future-proofing our organization with technology that can scale to evolving market needs and our credit union’s growth strategy.
  4. Continuing to build and expand on our excellence in member satisfaction

JW: It sounds like Vancity had a clear vision of what they wanted to accomplish and how. Can you tell me more about the initiative itself?

JAG: We put together a Banking Applications Renewal (BAR) program, which encompassed updating our banking system and related processes. As part of this initiative, instead of viewing the new technology as being an end in itself, we used the implementation as an opportunity to simplify our policies and streamline our procedures so that we can create extra capacity to serve member needs. For instance, we reviewed hundreds of policies and procedures, simplifying 168 and removing 152 entirely. We followed a similar process for forms – in some cases decreasing processing time from 20 minutes to four minutes. This streamlines the process for our account holders, while freeing up the time of our employees to more fully engage with them and help them achieve their financial goals.

JW: It sounds like you had a lot that you wanted to achieve! What exactly did the project entail?

JAG: We decided to implement the Temenos RetailSuite and Corporate Suite within Vancity Savings Credit Union, as well as two of our subsidiaries, Citizens Bank of Canada and Vancity Capital Corporation. This meant implementing the core banking platform, the Channels product, the payments hub, front office, business intelligence and risk management. There was a lot that went into this project.

We decided to launch the implementation across all departments and our 50+ branches simultaneously. We wanted employees and members to be working with the same technology so that there was no disconnect. Not having a phased approach, in the sense that everyone went live at the same time, also meant that members didn’t have to wait to benefit from the new technology while we brought employees onto the system.

JW: What were some of the unique endeavors about this project?

JAG: Besides the multitude of technology that we were testing and implementing on the Temenos side, we also were the first client in Canada to use Temenos’ Integration Framework. This has given us integration into our vast array of ancillary systems outside of Temenos. This was also the largest implementation of the Integration Framework in North America, so the collaborative effort between Vancity and Temenos was tremendous.

JW: I know that you only recently when live, but are there some of the initial successes of this project?

JAG: From a technical perspective, the go-live process, including our ability to move over $30 billion (CAD) in assets with very little outage, was strong. We were able to bring systems up quickly and the technology team has been able to operationalize the system very quickly.  Thankfully, we have had very little downtime after we were live.  It was one of the better implementations the industry has seen in Canada.  We are still working through some technical glitches with processes and adoption but we are progressing.  From a long-term perspective, we will gain a holistic view of our data and a more holistic user experience so that when an account holder logs in, they have a comprehensive understanding of their relationship with us.

Not only have we improved our processes as part of this initiative, by implementing modern technology we are setting ourselves up to be more effective in serving our members and helping to build healthy communities.

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