Cracking the Core Webinar Series: Unlocking the Power of Symitar Integration
Synopsis: Integrating to core banking systems is a major component in a successful digital transformation. In this series, we will look at popular systems and hear from those that experienced the integration.
This webinar series discusses the power of unlocking and integrating core banking systems with the Salesforce platform. It will be focused on the benefits, challenges, techniques to overcome, and impacts of having access to data.
Speakers: Art Peters, COO at DOW Credit Union; Josh Wilson, VP of Sales at EMS Consulting; Nate Alessandro, Development Practice Manager at EMS Consulting, and Randy Wandell, VP of Technology at EMS Consulting
Is it Time to Talk?
0:00:05.5 Josh Wilson: Thank you all for joining our Cracking the Core Webinar Series. Today, we’re gonna be talking about system integrations with Symitar Episys. So we’ve got quite a line-up set for you, we’re gonna talk about what this really means and how core banking information can impact banks and credit unions. We’re gonna talk with someone who’s actually been through this with EMS, we’ll speak a bit on a high level technical series, not enough to make your brains melt but enough to understand what’s being built, about how we’ve been able to do this and how we’ve cracked into Symitar, and we’ll make sure that we answer all the questions that you guys are gonna have for us along the way. So first and foremost, welcome to our call. To set the stage, again, we’ve got quite an agenda lined up, so we’ll be covering quite a bit of information with a couple different speakers. I’ll introduce the speakers in just a moment. We do have time carved out for questions, but to keep this as easy as possible, what I’d like for you all to do is make sure any questions you have, drop them right into the chat. We’ll be monitoring that, we’ll acknowledge all of those when we get to the Q&A portion of today’s series.
0:01:13.7 JW: And we’ll make sure that we address them as best we can. You could have questions for myself, you could have questions for the technical team, you could have questions for Art Peters from Dow Credit Union. So any questions that come up, please make sure you drop them in the chat, we’ll address those when we get to the Q&A portion of today. So in terms of introductions, my name is Josh Wilson, I’m the Vice President of Sales at EMS consulting. I’ve been at EMS for just over seven years. And all this time, I focused in the banking and credit union space. I’m joined today by a couple folks, number one is Art Peters. Art Peters is a recently retired COO of Dow Credit Union. Art, I think you told me that you retired at the beginning of this month, is that correct?
0:01:55.9 Art Peters: That’s right.
0:01:58.4 JW: Are you enjoying retired life so far?
0:02:00.9 AP: Well, yeah, it’s been quite a whirlwind.
0:02:04.7 JW: I believe it. And with us, we have Randy Wandell. Randy Wandell is the SVP over operations and delivery here at EMS Consulting, also for all things tech guru. Joining Randy is Nathan Alessandro. Nate was responsible for helping to build part of our accelerator with the Symitar Episys connector. So Randy and Nate, are you both there? Can you hear me?
0:02:26.9 Randy Wandell: Yep. Gotcha.
0:02:26.9 Nathan Alessandro: Yep. I can hear you.
0:02:29.7 JW: Thanks, gentlemen. I appreciate you both hopping on. So as I mentioned, we’re gonna be really focusing on the Dow Credit Union story today, but generally speaking, we really wanna lean heavy into this integration. And to talk about that, when I say integration and I say core data and Cracking the Core, that means a lot of different things to a lot of different folks. And so I wanna take a couple minutes to define that and talk about some of the importance that we see before we get into the specific story. So we all know that data lives in a lot of different places at credit unions, data can be in your core banking system, it can be in your loan origination system, it can be in your servicing system, it can be in your CRM, it could be in debit card systems, in credit card systems, in online banking systems, and the list goes on and on and on and on. What we’re gonna be talking about over this series is the true core banking component of this, and when we talk about Cracking the Core, we know that historically, core banking systems are fairly difficult to integrate into. They house a lot of data, and historically, the mindset is that it tends to be the heartbeat of that credit union.
0:03:41.8 JW: Obviously, the members are the heartbeat, but if the members are the heartbeat, then the core banking system might be the circulatory system of where we get that information and how we have it… And how we drive and make decisions. So what we wanna speak towards today is, how do we take that data that lives inside of that and surface it in a way that’s gonna be usable and actionable, so that you can treat members with that unique experience that makes your individual credit unions so special? And also being able to drive business decisions and insight and ultimately provide that experience that everyone’s looking for, that unique member experience that really drives relationship with the banker, with the Credit Union. So I won’t belabor this point too much, what I’d rather do is just get into the conversation with Art. So, let’s talk about that impact. Art, I think that you and I have spent quite a bit of time together, but for everybody who’s joining us on today’s webinar, what’s your name? What’s your role? How long were you at the Credit Union? And talk a little bit about your experience.
0:04:43.2 AP: Absolutely. My name is Art Peters, and Josh, thanks for that kind introduction. As you pointed out, I did retire at the end of March, I had been with Dow Credit Union for just about 11 and a half years. And during my tenure there, I really oversaw a transformation of the infrastructure, taking it from a very classical credit union model into a cloud delivery, heavily digital operation. We made a decision to roll out our first member relationship management CRM system back in 2015 as part of a phone system upgrade, and it was our first foray into that. It was kind of interesting, but we quickly outgrew the Shareware project that was given to us and stuck our toe under the water and looked at Salesforce. The Salesforce team actually hooked us up with EMS, and EMS just did a great job with us.
0:05:56.8 JW: Thank you. No, I appreciate that. And so let’s get into a bit about some of the core aspects. How long was Dow a Symitar customer? I think you guys were one of the first early adopters, is that correct?
0:06:10.6 AP: We were. They had jumped on, gosh, back in the late ’90s, so they had celebrated over 20 years in 2019. So, fairly early on, long heritage there. I got to see a lot of development with Symitar.
0:06:31.3 JW: That’s awesome. And Art, I know you also personally were pretty heavily involved with the Jack Henry relationship, you sat on a couple different boards and different groups and customer feedback groups, is that right?
0:06:42.2 AP: That is correct. The credit union was fairly large in asset size, but fairly streamlined internally, and we used a lot of tight relationships and turned our vendor relationships into partner relationships. Jack Henry and Symitar are part of that… Was a very key component to that.
0:07:06.3 JW: Yeah, fantastic. And so let’s talk about that. What was your experience like with Symitar?
0:07:12.3 AP: Symitar is a wonderful system. It’s been around for a while. It is highly configurable, and therein lies the beauty and the pain. It lets you do pretty much anything you want in different ways. And unfortunately, those of you… With credit unions realize that if you’ve got 10 different credit unions in a room, they’re probably doing the same job 20 different ways, and Symitar enables said very, very effectively with that. And that’s great for delivering the kind of service you want, it makes it a little challenging though for moving forward or integrating systems.
0:07:56.0 JW: So with that note, in regards to the customization of Symitar, where would you say that Dow was in regards to how much you customized? Was it mostly out of the box, was it extremely customized? Or was it somewhere in the middle?
0:08:09.9 AP: So, we were on a journey when I joined the credit union back in 2011. I don’t think we met a configuration we didn’t wanna try and love, and everything was highly configured. Over the course of the first seven years of my tenure, we really were on a campaign of trying to get back to more vanilla in the box, upgrades went from a six-week wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth exercise down to about four hours. So we were fairly successful in that, or at least we had thought we had caught all the skeletons. You know, you always find a few.
0:08:51.0 JW: Of course, no, absolutely. And in regards to your relationship with Symitar, you were running Symitar as a service, is that right?bl
0:09:01.4 AP: We were. We were in-house for, gosh, since we implemented and right up until 2019. And at that time, we made a decision that we were really well served to look at their ease offering. Candidly, our timing couldn’t have been better going into the pandemic of 2020, operating as a service, because that gave us a lot more resilience and scalability for our platform and for the members.
0:09:33.6 JW: Fantastic. No, thank you. And so, prior to our engagement, as you alluded to, we went down a road where we implemented Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, we integrated with Symitar. But prior to that engagement and that project, have you done any complex integrations with your core before? And if so, which ones? How did it go? Talk a bit about that experience and some of the complexities that you ran across.
0:10:00.1 AP: It seems like ever since I joined the Credit Union, we were on a mission where they had done pretty much a significant integration every couple of years, went through a couple of different card conversions, issuers, as well as a couple of online banking and mobile banking conversions. So, a fairly aggressive core functions. From lending, we converted our mortgage origination and loan servicing systems. So we had probably a drawer full of the t-shirts that you get every time you go through a conversion like that.
0:10:41.5 JW: I totally get it. And I know in some of our past conversations, that you talked about, there was an ease of it in the fact that it’s configurable, especially with something like the power-ons and looking at some of those conversions. But there’s some complexities with it as it comes to things like data or the data model as it relates to other systems. Can you talk about that for a little bit? About some of the integrations that you went through pre-Salesforce and maybe, again, whether they were similar in complexity, if they were more easy, if they were more difficult and how it relates… I know we’ll get into Salesforce-specific questions here in a moment, but generally speaking, would you say that the projects went well, or would you say there were some challenges?
0:11:25.2 AP: Well, I think the big thing is you’ve gotta go in and understand that perfection is going to be the enemy of good enough to be operational. And going into anything, you’re probably best served going through iterations and cycles of refinement. And with that kind of caveat, I’ll say, we thought we had done a great job of cleaning up our data going into our Salesforce implementation and we had caught a lot of things through various conversions and whatnot. I think the Salesforce exposed to us, as really providing us… The first time we had a real comprehensive one pane of glass view of a comprehensive relationship, there were a lot of loose ends that we had to go back and tie up in our core. And I don’t think that the Dow Credit Union was unique. And talking with colleagues of Jack Henry and other credit unions at the time, I think folks just take care of the members and you’re focused on the here and now, things like joint accesses, joint member addresses. All of these things are important, but never urgent, so you typically don’t do that. Well, during our implementation, poor Randy and Nate found a whole bunch of those for us. And the good news is, because of the configurability of not only the Salesforce and the toolset there, but with the Symitar data itself, we were very lucky to do a lot of clean up.
0:13:16.6 JW: No, that’s great. And I think that that begs the next question. So as we’re talking about this, we’re talking about data. Why was it so important to unlock your core for our project, and what value was that supposed to bring to the organization before we got started?
0:13:32.6 AP: We went in realizing that, out of the pandemic relationships with our members, we were already a highly digital operation. But during the course of 2020, 2021, we really were doing 98%, 99% of our interactions in a digital manner, and so we wanted to be tuned and optimized to that. And so when a member would call in or even a prospective member would call in, you could take care of a lot of different needs very quickly and with a comprehensive view. Anyone in the credit union world knows that it’s easy to get 17 different applications up and running to service one particular task. With Salesforce, we were able to consolidate that down quite a bit and put that all on one pane of glass, one set of Windows, in a navigation. And we were then hoping… And that’s what the team that’s left there will have a chance to do, is looking at how you’ll even automate some of that and integrate that with other components to even drive better efficiencies and better service levels.
0:14:51.3 JW: No, that’s great. And Art, I know in all of our conversations, both before the project got going, during the project and then after go live, something that kept coming up was data and the power of data, on how you leverage that to service your members. Could you share some of your thoughts about that? Why data is so important in regards to that member experience and that member relationship.
0:15:13.7 AP: Well, it is. It’s actually paramount because it allows you to unlock things that you as an organization can offer your membership. So looking at something as trivial as someone’s transaction history, with that, you can analyze and look for and say, “Hey, we’ve identified that you are making a monthly payment to what is historically another FI or institution that has auto-loans, and it looks like you’re making a loan payment here.” And that gives us a quick way of turning around and saying, “Hey, here’s a great candidate list to go out… Reach out and do a touch,” to say you understand the great loan rates that this organization has. And at the Dow Credit Union, they were very fortunate we were able to use that and unlock that to help do loan seals, get things brought back in-house, and along the way, save members just a whole bunch of money.
0:16:20.1 JW: Yeah, I love that. So, understanding even… That’s a great specific example of transactional level data to be able to go in and save members money, and also understand trans… And maybe where there’s some exposure in regards to wallet share and who they’re banking with. And I think something else you had mentioned that I think is really important to talk about is some marketing automation leveraging that data. So you had mentioned that reaching out to members with purposeful messaging was something that was really important to you. Would you mind expanding on that for a little bit, for our viewers?
0:16:55.1 AP: Sure. While our relationship with EMS was really with Financial Services Cloud, we were an existing Salesforce customer when we stood up the CRM piece. We had actually adopted Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud in 2019 and used that very effectively to develop a rapport and communication channel with our members in a digital fashion. We realized that early on, that was a great way to send out updates about what we were doing during the pandemic operation, but then later on, we pivoted and we were able to actually turn it into a self-service, keep your data current, keep your contact information there updated. But then turn around and say, “Hey, here is a cohort of members that we can now automatically go out and touch,” and say, for instance, “We’ve identified it looks like you might have an auto loan we wanna recapture, or perhaps you got some credit card debt that we’re seeing.” And by the way, by doing it through looking at transactional data, we don’t need to look at credit reports or anything like that, so there’s no questions about, “Are you misusing credit data with that?” ’cause I know that can be somewhat of a sticky wicket. So that was allowing things to progress. It turned out that one of the next phases that the team was setting up to do prior to my retirement was actually do automated onboarding so that we could do a more comprehensive job of bringing folks onto the credit union platform.
0:18:45.5 JW: That’s amazing. And Art, I know that the overarching theme for everything we did, like you guys were obsessed with your member experience, and so being able to leverage that data for onboarding is a great example, or making recommendations on products or services that are gonna save that member money, but also add to that, just increased exposure to what the Credit Union is offering and what that experience could and should look like. So, I think you’re absolutely right.
0:19:13.0 JW: I love that you guys were so data forward to drive that member experience in that member relationship.
0:19:18.6 AP: Yeah.
0:19:19.3 JW: So on that note, I mean, we’ve talked about the good things, let’s talk about some of the challenges. So as we’re going through this, the four of us know about the complexities of the Symitar Episys data model, I’m sure all the folks on the line do, as well, just having worked with the platform. So what are some of the challenges you went through while we were developing this integration and how did you overcome them?
0:19:42.3 AP: So I think I’ll answer the second question first, and that was by taking a lot of deep breaths and trying to keep a level head and having a set of good partners to get you through some tough times. Some of the challenges that we prepped across during the data integration was realizing how out of date some of the secondary pieces of data in the core really were. And I just cite myself as an example, when I joined the Credit Union, I had listed my daughter as a beneficiary, well, what I went to and during the implementation, pulled that up and realized and looked at her relationship to my account, and realized not only had I not kept that current, she had been married and name changed and moved three times, and I hadn’t done that, and it was like that was just one data point, and I worked for the organization at the time.
0:20:56.8 AP: Holy smokes, and that really was serviced through a lot of things where we realized it didn’t impact necessarily the day-to-day operation, but over a longer term things we had to clean up. And so that’s where I think Randy and Nate gonna get a chance to talk a little bit about how we get through that in helping set the right understanding going in and saying, “Okay, well, what do we have and how can we clean things up?” And even doing things like the order in which you integrate and load your data into the system made a huge difference.
0:21:35.3 JW: Yeah, I think that that’s huge. And one, thank you for the plug. As always, we wanna look at this thing as a partnership because technological projects, there’s going to be bumps in the road, there’s going to be issues in terms of APIs, in terms of data, in terms of something work in a testing environment, maybe not a production environment, so working through those types of items together, obviously it’s probably number one for us and for you guys as you’re going through that project. In relation to the data integrity, so to your point, you talked a bit about yourself and your daughter as the beneficiary, how much did a project like this expose some of the data integrity issues that you guys had, that we all had to work through as a group, was it a pretty massive overtaking or would you say it was just shining a light on something that you need to be planning for it and you had to do some quick fixes along the way?
0:22:27.7 AP: I think in between the two Josh. I think folks that had been with the organization for a long time understood we had a significant data consistency issue. It really wasn’t until we got something as sophisticated as Salesforce as a unifying front-end that it exposed where it was. The fact is, it’s important, but it’s not crippling, and that’s the importance of having a good partner who’s been through this a couple of times, the Dow Credit Union prides itself on accuracy and integrity, and you know if your calculator generates nine decibels of precision, they want that kind of accuracy and precision in everything they do, and having partners that have been through this a couple of times say, “Guys, you need to kinda have a level set and a level head as to how you get there,” that’s really key to getting the end of job.
0:23:38.4 JW: Yeah, I love that you said that, right? Important but not crippling. And the reason that I poke on this one is, as you know, and as Randy, and Nate know, as we’ve done quite a few of these, and for all the folks on the line, obviously, the majority of you guys are going to have Symitar or interested in getting Symitar, it’s not uncommon, right? This is something that everybody is up against, this is something that every credit union goes through to varying degrees, but knowing it’s important but not crippling and that you can work through it, I think helps put a lot of folks at ease or and understanding that they’re not alone, and based on your experience, the 11 and a half years at Dow, but also the different boards and support groups and Jack Henry recovery groups that you’ve probably been a part of over the years. It sounds like it’s a fairly common theme, is that fair?
0:24:28.2 AP: Well, it is. I think the thing that is absolutely paramount more than anything else is to know what is number one priority, and it can’t be everything, ’cause if everything’s number one priority then nothing is number one priority. So getting that good list, getting an eye on what success looks like, focusing on that, those are real key issues there.
0:24:53.7 JW: Yeah, I love that, right? Knowing what good looks like, and to your earlier comment, not perfect because perfect will stop progress. Perfect will stop it from ever going live on anything in a project like this, but what’s good enough? And identifying that and making sure that both teams are marching towards that goal with obviously perfection is the end result at some point, but how do we get live, how do we see an ROI and then tweak and iterate after the fact? I think that that’s really important to call out and thank you for acknowledging that.
0:25:25.6 JW: So as we went through, we talked about some challenges, and of course, it’s not gonna advance unless I click my button, let’s talk about the end result and the impact to having access to that data that it brought, and so obviously, you’ve recently gone into retirement, but let’s talk a little bit about your Go-live, let’s talk about the types of data that we got impact and access to within tied up Salesforce, and both the impact you saw while you were there and then the future potential that’s looming based on the work that we’ve done together.https://youtu.be/5BKpI_BCAsI
0:25:58.0 AP: So I think this is a great question, but it needs a little bit of a set up or a lead in, when we signed on to the project, we had an original implementation timeline that was gonna take us live at the end of ’22. And the fact is, we weren’t ready, and some of that was driven by our false belief of data needing to be perfect and the reality of where our own internal data was, and it led to a couple of very tough conversations. And one of the things that’s important is when you do an implementation like this, you need a partner, you don’t need a vendor, you need a partner, and I can say with Josh, I was able to text you at all kinds of crazy hours, Randy, the same thing. And we got a chance to bond it, oh my early sometimes and a little bit late, but you guys really were there for us, helped us walk through some difficult decisions, we ultimately pushed our Go-Live live off a couple of months and in looking back at it, it was a brilliant move. Because our Go-Live was a non-event. One of the things, EMS does is they have a week of what they call hyper-care after you go live, and it’s just kind of there to handle all the bumps and surprises that everyone has whenever you go live.
0:27:53.5 AP: Nate, I think you were willing to cancel or trying to get us to cancel our last day of hyper-care because we had closed all the major issues.
0:28:02.3 NA: It was a smooth one. [laughter]
0:28:05.5 AP: And I think that that only happens when you’ve been through a couple of these in your partner, gives you advice and then you’re savvy enough to take your partner’s advice.
0:28:21.4 JW: Well, thank you for that, and I couldn’t agree more that it truly is a partnership because there’s bumps and we’ve gotta make some decisions, and like extending your Go-Live is exactly one of those. I know you and I had countless conversations about, “Should we do this, what’s the impact if we don’t what’s the impact if we do? And could we have gone live sooner? Yes, it might have been a few more bumps, you might have flexed on those hyper-care hours a little bit more, but making the decision to pause it and push it out just a little bit, I love the term non-event. And for those of you who are listening, we don’t mean that we did not celebrate that this thing finally went live, we acknowledged the work that went into the project, but it was just a Tuesday, nothing else happened.
0:29:02.5 JW: Nothing blew up, there were no fires. One day Salesforce, it wasn’t there with Symitar data being fed into it, and the next day it was, and so I think that’s one of the biggest compliments that we could get, so thank you for that. And then Art, let’s talk a bit about what that having that access to the data is doing, so as you mentioned, there’s already growth at the Credit Union saying, Let’s start leaning into member onboarding. And what that experience is like, what are some of the other impacts that some of the users have had or they’re planning on having now that they have this data at their fingertips? Essentially on that one screen, you keep referencing.
0:29:37.5 AP: Yeah, the thing that I think that this enabled us and going into it, we had to keep an open mind because we didn’t know what we didn’t know, and we were really hopeful and desirous of a lot of optimization around service delivery and what we would do, gaining better insights and even be able to answer questions, quicker, address requests in a more efficient manner, and what we found ugly enough is one of the side projects was a lobby track or lobby scheduling, which we have very advanced tool prior to Salesforce, the Excel Spreadsheet.
0:30:26.1 AP: And it’s something that I think a lot of credit unions use, Excel is probably one of the most abused products ever invented, but we jumped in and leveraged, this is almost, I won’t say an afterthought, but it was kind of an ancillary drop-in. We went live with that a week earlier than the phone system cut over, and what was interesting to us was we instantly got feedback and a single payment glass, a single set of reports, a comprehensive view of what was coming into the branch, why people were there, what we were looking at. And then that started setting a foundation for even looking at all of our digital interactions through our member care center.
0:31:19.4 JW: Yeah. That’s amazing. And so getting that feedback from the end users who are adopting a brand new system so early on into it, I think that that’s paramount to the direction that the Salesforce and Dow relationship is going to go and the use cases and how you’re gonna leverage the system. I mean, if someone, the end users having a better experience with their technology, what do you think is happening with the member experience as they walk in and there’s that access to data? I mean, would you say that the end users, whether it’s the teller or a universal banker or someone in a contact center, do you think that they’re able to provide better insight and better solutions and recommendations, or do you think that there’s maybe value in shortening each one of those interactions when appropriate, obviously not rushing anybody. What are some of the downstream impacts you think are happening with the members themselves?
0:32:13.1 AP: I think from a staff perspective, we saw a level of empowerment and ownership where folks actually felt like they had more control over understanding what they could do and couldn’t do just being informed, better informed and doing so in a real-time fashion. That’s very liberating, and going into that, we knew that would be a possibility, we also knew that you had to guard against thinking it’s gonna cure every problem and ill, and so we tried to set reasonable expectations. But we found that buy in, and that was huge because that led into a more engaged staff, which actually have led to an uptick in member satisfaction.
0:33:06.9 JW: That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s what it’s about it, right? Was there member satisfaction? How do we keep them coming back and have those same impacts that historically Dow has been having since inception and the growth, and so I’ve got one last question for you Art so as we talk through this, we’ve talked about how we got here and why we got here. We talked about some of the things that went well. We talked about some of the challenges. What would you encourage other Symitar customers to do if they’re considering taking on a project like this?
0:33:39.7 AP: I guess I would offer a couple of thoughts. The first thing would be, set a clear concrete objective, so that at the end of the day, you can look back and say, Did I do it or didn’t I do it? We had four goals going into the project we did with EMS, and that worked really, really well, we were able to pick those off within a week of going live and saying, “Yep, we’re here, we’ve done it,” and all the rest is gravy. And the second thing is, I’ll steal a mantra that you folks used a lot, and that was, crawl, walk, run, doing a little, little bites, little steps, don’t try to do it all at one time. And I think the third thing is going in with an open mind and a sense of calm, knowing that there will be some questions and challenges and unexpected oopsies along the way. It all gets there.
0:34:40.2 JW: Yeah, that’s fantastic. And so Art thank you so much for this and for taking the time to spend with us. Any last thoughts or comments that you wanna make before we turn over to the tech team, who you’re obviously allowed to interrupt if you have input ’cause rest assured it’s your project, but any other comments or thoughts you wanna share with the group while we’re here?
0:35:02.4 AP: No, I guess the final parting comment would be, as you go through and you pick out a piece of technology, there’s lots of really cool whiz-bang offerings out there, making sure as you select somebody as your integrator, that it’s someone who’s a good cultural fit, and that’s important, not so much when things are going well, but when you’ve got a tough call to make and a tough situation, it really helps to be able to say, “We’ve got a good rapport with these folks,” and that does sound like a shameless plug. It really wasn’t meant to be that. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and we’ve done a great couple of things together.
0:35:53.4 JW: Art that’s awesome. And I know that I said I was gonna actually save questions to the end, but a question did come through here that I think would be relevant for right now, just while we’re talking about clear goals and expectations, and the question was, what were the four goals that you guys accomplished with this launch, so when you guys define… What did we accomplish?
0:36:13.1 AP: So we wanted to replace an antiquated phone system, replace an outgrown CRM system, wanted to add resilience, and we wanted to improve our overall member experience and resiliency and time to answer questions, and we meant went through all four of those, like I said, within a week of going live.
0:36:40.7 JW: Amazing. Art, as always, thank you so much. And so for this next piece, we’re gonna pass the conversation over to Randy and to Nate to actually get into some of the tech talk about what this solution looks like it and how we got here. But as I mentioned, Art if you’ve got something to add, by all means, the conversation is just as much yours as it is theirs. So Randy, I’m gonna pass the floor to you sir.
0:37:04.9 RW: Thanks, Josh. And thanks Art, I appreciate all of your kind words. So with me today is Nate, he is the head of our MuleSoft practice. And he’s been with the EMS for four years. Nate, why don’t you just give a little bit of background on how many integration projects you’ve worked on in at EMS.
0:37:28.0 NA: Oh geez, I lose count with doing so many, I’d say an average about a dozen different types of integrations every year at EMS. Of those, between two and four of them are some form of Symitar or core banking integration outside of the Symitar world.
0:37:47.3 RW: Thanks, appreciate that. So we have a… EMS has a relationship with Jack Henry. Do you wanna kinda go into some detail about what our relationship with Jack Henry is?
0:37:57.4 NA: Yeah, sure, so EMS is a developer partner with Jack Henry, and what that is, is it allows us to get access to our own version of a Symitar instance, all the API documentation, a whole slew of partner. I say that in air quotes, Partner Portal, documentation and know-how and stuff like that, and we get access and can ask questions of Jack Henry on how they may recommend doing something within the Symitar platform. That generally encompasses our partnership, and EMS has a couple of different…
0:38:35.0 RW: Styles of integration with Symitar. One’s a point-to-point and one’s a MuleSoft integration. So let’s dig into the point-to-point one a little bit. What’s a typical use case? What’s a typical customer look like for a point-to-point?
0:38:52.7 NA: Yeah, a typical customer on a point-to-point is gonna be a smaller credit union, you know, low-billion-dollar-type credit union, maybe sub-billion-dollar credit union that just may not have the budget for the MuleSoft side. But the use cases, whether you use MuleSoft or you don’t, generally fall into the same bucket, which is, “I’ve gotta see my members. I’ve gotta see their deposits. I’ve gotta see their loans. And I have to be able to see their beneficiary relationships within the core.” That is the core of this entire accelerator so that you can conduct your business and really be there and supportive to your members.
0:39:33.0 RW: So does a point-to-point-type integration, does that support bidirectional updates?
0:39:40.5 NA: It can. Generally, when we’re doing a bidirectional-type update with Symitar, it… Symitar, in general, lacks the idea of a real-time web hook. So we’re doing some batching overnight for any items that you’re not trying to see in real-time. But in real-time, we have devised the integration to say, “I’m looking at Nate’s account in Symitar. I’ve gotta go find everything in Symitar that relates to Nate.” So we make an API call. We pull all that data back in a real-time fashion so that way, if I’m on a phone or I’m in the branch, you have all of my data up-to-date that very second from when you pulled up my account in Salesforce, and you have everything you need to conduct your business knowledgeably, instead of guessing on, “Well, I don’t know when this updated last,” or, “This could be stale.” It is everything right then and there.
0:40:31.6 RW: So what are some of the limitations of a point-to-point versus a MuleSoft integration?
0:40:38.0 NA: Yeah, so the point-to-point integration, generally, we do with any members that have a cloud instance of Symitar. When you’re doing point-to-point and you have an on-prem solution of Symitar behind your firewall in your data center, you have to have some sort of middleware API there because Salesforce lacks the capability of really tunneling through any form of VPN or even setting up a VPN. MuleSoft, on the other hand, being a much more robust middleware tool, allows us to get really creative with it. It allows us to create those VPNs connections; really customize the API. What we can do with MuleSoft side is take the generic XML API that is Symitar and abstract it for even more specific use cases and more so even, take pieces of the API to enhance things that maybe Salesforce won’t use. But the limitations of point-to-point are is it really has to be in the cloud, you have to have a certificate that’s verifiable so you can connect, and you do have to have some sort of way to batch the data in for us to process name records and generally create any person accounts. So that’s something we have on both sides whereas MuleSoft can handle it a little bit easier than a point-to-point solution.
0:42:03.0 RW: Thanks, Nate. So in the MuleSoft integration, are there things that we can do in that integration that we can’t necessarily do in a point-to-point?
0:42:14.4 NA: Absolutely not. You can do everything you can do in the MuleSoft integration. Excuse me, you can do, in the MuleSoft integration, everything you can do in the point-to-point integrations, but you can do so much more with MuleSoft. Because MuleSoft is that middleware tier, it is that… The piece of technology that allows you to abstract what Symitar can do and really make the APIs your personal APIs to your business; you… The moon’s the world, the moon’s the target there, so you can do literally anything.
0:42:44.0 RW: So by using the MuleSoft integration, we can leverage the Symitar APIs to expose additional APIs for the credit union?
0:42:55.6 NA: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. All the… You can access all the same APIs you can point-to-point through Mule, and you can abstract those to say, “I wanna see Nate, but I also wanna enhance that data with some data we have at this Salesforce for marketing information,” and expose that to say an alchemy, an online banking solution for your members.
0:43:23.4 RW: So are there any additional features coming for our Symitar integration?
0:43:29.0 NA: Yeah, absolutely. We have a couple that we currently have. For example, the updates of addresses, phone numbers, minor demographic information, you can input that into Salesforce, and it will update name records of that person on that specific account in real-time. On our roadmap, we have account opening, beneficiary adding, you know those transactional-type items where someone just may need to call in and say, “I need to make these minor changes to my account.” So that you don’t really have to swivel chair into your core to do that. It’s just right there in your CRM system within a native solution, and it’s just done out of the gate.
0:44:13.6 RW: Thanks. So thinking about the Dow integration, what are some of the key aspects or key components that we did for Dow that highlight this integration we have with Symitar and helped Dow enable things that they didn’t have before in their previous solution?
0:44:38.5 NA: Yeah, absolutely. I mean I think Art touched on quite a bit of it. I gave him the 360-degree view and what we… How we did that was we pulled in, like I said, your… All the member accounts or all the account-level data and all name records for all those accounts. And then we’re able to cross associate them across accounts. So that means you know, if Nate, I have my own core account and my wife has her own account, you’re able to more easily see how I am associated to my wife’s accounts, and vice versa. You’re able to see that I may also be associated to my parents’ account as a power of attorney. We are able to pull all that in by accessing the main core account, name records, financial accounts, meeting shares, loans, and external accounts, which is the make-up of our entire core accelerator. One thing I did miss, though, on the features that we have, we also have a transaction API, which this is usually leveraged by credit unions for either disputes to register them, or for validation of a member. You know, call in and say, “Give me, of the last 20 account transactions, what did you spend and where?” But that’s an API that we have and a user interface to help support that, as well. So thank you, Josh, for letting me know on that.
0:46:03.0 AP: If I could jump in just real quick here, I think one of the things that you’re selling short in this accelerator you have is early on in our process, we realized that Salesforce is a huge behemoth and it’s kind of overwhelming. It’ll let you do anything you want however you want. And you need a little bit of guidance. I remember, I think it was probably our introductory phone call, Josh, you pulled up this thing that you call, “Oh, it’s a little accelerator we have. And here are like a list of the top 20 reasons folks call in.” And holy smokes! It was, one-for-one, our top 20 member interactions. And it was like, “Wow! That’s already configured and categorized, and it lets you visualize how you can set things up.” I can’t tell you how important that was to us to be able to visualize how this open system could be.
0:47:10.5 RW: Yeah, that was gonna be one of my questions to you, Art, is the how big of a deciding factor was it for you to go with EMS based on what you saw on the accelerator?
0:47:21.5 AP: You know, it was absolutely paramount.
0:47:26.5 RW: Thanks. Well, we wanna leave some time for some questions and answers. Nate, any final thoughts?
0:47:33.8 NA: I mean the only final thought I have is, going back to what Art said several times, is perfection will kill you when trying to implement. Good enough for live is essential to understand. And one of the things that EMS does when implementing this is we work within a 2% air threshold. If when we’re trying to load all of our data in, can do it 98% successfully, to us, that’s a complete success. We don’t wanna waste cycles on that 2%.
0:48:03.7 JW: Good call on Nate. And so I do have a couple questions that have come up, and they’re perfectly timed ’cause some of these are fairly technical. So the first one is: What communication channel is used to call directly from Salesforce to Symitar? Is it SymXchange?
0:48:18.2 NA: Yes. It’s just an HTTP call direct through SymXchange using the EASE is really what they call it, too. So you have to have EASE, but we leverage the SymXchange middleware at Symitar for that.
0:48:35.9 JW: Perfect, thank you. And the next question, I’ll let you guys answer, I might have some thoughts: Is MuleSoft a requirement to experience a robust Salesforce experience?
0:48:45.9 NA: No, you can do all the stuff point-to-point. That was what I think Randy was trying to go down at the start of my questioning. It’s just easier to compare the point-to-point to MuleSoft. But no, all these items are able to be done point-to-point directly.
0:49:01.7 JW: Directly. And yeah, I might add on to that for those of you who aren’t in the know on MuleSoft. You’ve heard the name, but don’t quite know what it is. The major value proposition for MuleSoft is reusable integrations and to Nate’s point, being able to add in data from other sources as you expose that data in other places. So if you’ve got a big integration patterns that require with multiple systems reusing the same information from source systems that needs to be surfaced in online banking and a mobile application and a CRM and a data warehouse and the list goes on and on, MuleSoft could be a good fit. We’d be happy to have a chat with you. But to Nate’s answer, yeah, absolutely right, MuleSoft is not a requirement to have a robust Salesforce experience. Alright, and I see one more question that it talks about the data model. So Symitar Episys tends to have a data model with multiple records of the same member. How do we overcome that for the integration?
0:50:01.5 NA: Yeah, good question. And that was one of the big points of our solution, is we really try to tie everything together based on a social security number, some form of unique identifier for your main members. But then to that, once you’ve created, for example, a Nate, we tie that off and relate them with junction objects to the main core accounts so that you can see, “Hey, Nate has a main core account where he’s owner of,” let’s say, “A few different accounts, but he also has a business account that he’s associated to, or a beneficiary of.” But you can also then link Nate to several different financial accounts. So it’s hard to explain without a visual, but that’s something, Josh, maybe we could put together and disperse.
0:50:51.3 JW: Yeah, absolutely, thank you. Alright, going last chance to add in any questions. These will have all been great. I’ll give it 30 seconds while I’m wrapping up here. If anything pops up, I’ll make sure we address it live. But in these last few moments together, one, if you like what you saw or you have any questions that you wanna dig into, or you wanna have a conversation about anything that you heard, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. It’s [email protected]. There’s also forms on our website that you can go to, emsconsulting.com, consultems will get you there. You can fill these types of things out. Additionally, you can reach out to your Salesforce account executives, they can connect you with us.
0:51:35.1 JW: But Art, as always, thank you, thank you, thank you for joining us today. I know when we were lining this up, the number one goal that we both had was: How can we help other credit unions? And so I think we’ve accomplished that today, so thank you, sir. Randy and Nate, as always, thanks for getting the technical side of that. For those of you who are non-technical people who don’t understand that, that’s okay, we’ll have a recording of this so you can show it to whoever is just so that their heads get nodding as well. But thanks, all of you, for joining us today, we really appreciate you stopping in with us, and we hope to hear from each and every single one of you soon. Thanks so much!
0:52:10.0 NA: Take care.
0:52:11.5 AP: Bye.