A new core system is a significant financial investment and time commitment. Finding the right core partnership to meet your bank’s needs takes time to research and vet the options. Gilmer National Bank started exploring their core options when they realized their current provider was not adapting to the changing climate and not making the updates needed for the bank to grow their business. They took IBT Apps through their vendor management process, and we learned, from being on the vendor side, what it takes for a community bank to secure the right core partnership. The information below serves as a firsthand account of vendor management in action using Gilmer National Bank’s story.
Overcoming Decades of Challenges
Gilmer National Bank recognized that their core provider of 30 years was not positioning their bank well in the industry and their relationship was no longer beneficial. Adding new technology to their standing tech stack was very expensive, which prevented them from expanding their product portfolio and growing their business without a digital footprint. They were also experiencing back office inefficiencies from using disparate systems and knew there was a better way to manage the business. Gilmer needed a core system that would transform the bank’s operations, promote revenue growth, and improve the customers’ experience. They also needed a trusted core partner that would be able to evolve their core technology to adapt to industry changes and would be able to serve and support the bank similar to how they serve and support their own community.
Vendor Management in Action
Gilmer explored a range of core options in the industry. However, their focus was on finding a core provider that was affordable and offered a suite of digital banking products that met their immediate and long-term goals. This would also be their very first core conversion and they knew it would involve a dramatic change for their employees. The bank needed a core provider with a dedicated support team that would be able to guide them throughout and post-conversion. “We didn’t want to be another bank on the list and knew we needed more hands-on support because we had never done this before,” said Avery Bucher, Director of Operations at Gilmer, “We needed someone that would make our jobs easier.”
The bank went through several vendor management process items to vet and select their new core provider. Being privy to the information community bankers need to feel confident in their new core decision, IBT Apps was prepared and responsive to Gilmer’s requests.
In no particular order, the following items represent vendor management in action:
- The bank met the IBT Apps team: During initial conversations, Gilmer was able to meet the IBT Apps leadership team as well as the implementation and client support managers. Gilmer was able to learn more about IBT Apps and their operation beyond conversations with just the sales team.
- They asked for references: IBT Apps sent a list of references to Gilmer National Bank. Before COVID-19 imposed travel restrictions, the bank was able to visit one of our experienced core clients (First State Bank of Bedias) and saw firsthand how the system was user-friendly and more efficient. Paul Wilson, Vice President of Gilmer National Bank, saw what a bank could do and how a bank could be run with an updated system.
- Visited the IBT Apps office and the data center: Gilmer was able to see the operations in real-time at the IBT Apps office and meet the entire team. Gilmer also visited the data center to see how the data is housed and why it’s a benefit to have data stored offsite.
Choosing the Right Core Partnership
Gilmer needed the ability to offer new products to expand its customer base. Specifically, it was interested in offering online banking, debit card solutions, and remote deposit capture. But, selecting a vendor based on technology alone wouldn’t be the right decision. There are many vendors in the industry that offer many digital products, but their service and support do not meet expectations. The bank would have to assess if the new core vendor would be the right fit and could deliver the service needed for the bank to succeed.
During initial conversations, IBT Apps was responsive and always available to answer questions and fulfill requests for the bank to make its final decision. Even before the partnership was secured, IBT Apps was able to help Gilmer overcome the challenge of an absentee Remote Deposit Capture system and helped them successfully set one up that met their customer’s urgent needs. The bank was in danger of losing a very large customer because they didn’t have the product available. When discussing the product with their standing provider, they found that it carried an excessive cost and wouldn’t be delivered in a timely manner. IBT Apps was able to solve this problem and get the product installed within a week. “It was good to see that you all were able to jump on that and help us get done quickly,” said Wilson, “The customer has been very happy with that product, so that definitely made a difference.”
Even before signing an agreement Gilmer recognized that IBT Apps went above and beyond in both exceptional service and support, a true testament to having an ideal partnership.
Preparing for the Journey Ahead
Gilmer partnered with IBT Apps in March 2020 – just as the nation was implementing COVID-19 restrictions. Facing inevitable changes to the planned conversion process, IBT Apps and Gilmer National Bank have started navigating the new learning environment together to execute a combination of virtual and onsite core conversion that meets the needs and expectations of the community bank.
By the end of the conversion, Gilmer National Bank will have received:
- A complete core system with digital banking and reporting solutions for its employees that are easy to navigate and access using a single sign-on function.
- Cutting-edge online, mobile, and bill-pay products that meet industry demand and deliver the optimum customer experience.
- Integrated banking solutions with third-party providers, so that the bank can offer all the latest technology to its customers, while using only one vendor.
At any given time, but especially in uncertain times, IBT Apps demonstrates the value of a trusted core partnership with community banks. We understand that each bank has its own specific needs and in order to address their challenges, we need to be agile, responsive, and willing to go the extra mile.