Today, many community banks are looking for IT systems to improve efficiencies in their organization. In addition, community bankers now need to meet mounting regulatory compliance requirements, which has increased the need for specialized expertise. Community banks also face challenges in providing competitive products and services their customers expect, while maintaining the advantages of being local banks.
All these concerns can amount to a lot of confusion for community banking executives. To avoid choosing the wrong IT solutions and vendors, we’ve highlighted some areas community bankers should consider to help avoid costly mistakes when choosing hardware and software partners.
Does your hardware and software vendor understand the technical requirements of your core banking platform?
Having the knowledge and ability to work with your core banking provider is imperative for all IT vendors that work with your financial institution. Vendors must know the inner workings of the core banking application. They should also be familiar with the various products that the core provider uses. It is also helpful for vendors to have a repository of core product specs to refer to before ordering equipment.
Will the vendor understand your business?
Hardware vendors and service providers must truly understand the ins and outs of operating a community bank. For example, they must understand the priority of a customer-facing teller line and the best technology needed to deliver such service. Another thing to consider is: will they listen to your banking business needs and make a recommendation based on solving those needs, not just placing a piece of hardware?
Will your vendor understand regulatory compliance requirements?
The ever-changing world of financial regulatory compliance governs every aspect of your IT network; and that includes what hardware and software you choose to deploy. In today’s banking environment, vendors must be able to make recommendations on how to manage hardware and software to meet regulatory expectations, including making sure your hardware stays under warranty and your software stays under support (i.e., when there is a critical service being run on a server, you can’t have the server warranty expire); certifying that you can always access your critical services as a part of a business continuity plan; and warranting that software is kept up to date with security updates.
Read: Extending the Life of Your Hardware Maintaining hardware warranties
Will your vendor have a plan or are they just filling orders?
Building an IT network without a plan is like building a house without a blueprint. In order for hardware and software implementations to be successful, bankers and vendors must agree on a plan. A smart way for bankers to move forward is developing a strategic IT plan to manage your current business and provide a foundation to support new technology and services.
Does your vendor have the ability to recognize and discuss trends within the banking industry?
Technology is ever changing and it is nearly impossible for anyone to keep up with all the advancements happening day to day. Look for a partner with numerous bank clients facing similar challenges every day and one that has the experience of finding the best solutions for these challenges. Bankers need to employ new but stable technology with a focus on performance, security and recoverability.