“(…) The CGI team integrated seamlessly with our team, bringing vital experience and insights while leveraging and augmenting the existing strengths of our technical staff and deep business knowledge of our employees.”

Adrian Legin, Executive Vice-President, Operations and E-business, Conexus Credit Union

In this ambitious undertaking, CGI and Conexus demonstrate that a true partnership means sharing the challenges as well as the rewards.

With more than $1.3 billion in assets, over 80,000 members and more than 750 staff at 25 branches and services centers across Saskatchewan, Regina-based Conexus is the province's largest and Canada's ninth largest credit union. Conexus delivers innovative financial services—personal, commercial and agricultural products and consulting—to meet the changing needs of its members.

The Challenge
In 1997-98, Conexus (formerly Sherwood Credit Union), issued a request for proposal to find an IT provider that could offer the high-level expertise required to implement a new banking system. The aim was to migrate from the existing Credit Union Central Bank System shared by some 50 credit unions to achieve more independence in operations and maintain direct control over its banking system in preparation for future growth and Y2K. Sherwood opted for Prologic's Ovation™ system as the solution to meet its objectives and chose CGI—over three competitors—as its system integrator and facilities management partner.

Ovation is an integrated core retail banking system that combines the latest in client-server technologies with an innovative application architecture. The system offers online transaction processing, customer relationship management (CRM) and third-party applications that together form a comprehensive banking system.

CGI successfully completed the Ovation implementation and the system went live in 1998. CGI ensured system stabilization and flexibility so that Sherwood could easily introduce products and add users without incurring the usual incremental costs associated with the Credit Union Central Bank System. Other advantages for Sherwood included enhanced product development, faster time to market for products and services, better control over reporting, and universal accessibility by members. With the Ovation system in place, Sherwood was ideally positioned to go forward with its growth objectives, as witnessed by the 2003 merger of Assiniboia, Bethune, Chamberlain, Moose Jaw and Sherwood Credit Unions to form Conexus, bringing over 80,000 members together. In light of this development—and given its proven expertise with Ovation and knowledge of the existing technology environment—CGI was subsequently awarded a five-year outsourcing contract with Conexus, that would begin in 2003 with another challenging project in addition to its role of providing data center support, security, fire protection and facilities management.

The Strategy
The merger gave Conexus a number of reorganization challenges, not the least of which was the monumental task of migrating the four credit unions over to the Ovation system and in this effort, CGI's contribution would prove invaluable. CGI worked closely with Conexus to manage and coordinate the various vendor parties of the Credit Union Central Bank System, ensuring the installation, customization, testing and certification of gateways and interfaces to external connectors providing ATM, credit card, switching and other services. Precise timelines and work schedules were drawn up as CGI went to work writing the conversion programs, developing data mapping and coordinating the migration. In all, some 30 people from Conexus and CGI worked on this ambitious data conversion project where time, budget and successful implementation were key. By year-end 2003, the job was completed, with CGI bringing the necessary technical and management acumen to ensure stable and reliable operations of the new system.

Says Adrian Legin, Executive Vice-President, Operations and E-business at Conexus, “The depth of CGI's expertise and experience was invaluable in the conversion. The CGI team integrated seamlessly with our team, bringing vital experience and insights while leveraging and augmenting the existing strengths of our technical staff and deep business knowledge of our employees.”

The Technology

  • Database: SQL Server
  • Operating Systems: Client Server: OS2, NT, 2000; Desktop: 95, NT, 2000
  • Languages/Tools: VB 5.0, VB 6.0 Other: Probe
  • Internet Development: HTML
  • Networks: Token Ring, Ethernet
  • Partners/Alliances: Other: Fincentric (Prologic)

The Results
With the conversion completed on time and on budget, CGI continues to work closely with Conexus to manage and support their applications and technology environment. In this valued partnership, CGI provides a range of services including application management, release planning, hosting services, LAN/server management, network planning and environment upgrades. And with another Conexus merger approaching in early 2006 (with Heartland, Prince Albert and Moosomin Credit Unions making Conexus the sixth largest credit union in Canada, with $2.1 billion in assets), CGI is geared up for another challenging conversion effort. In summing up this long-standing relationship with CGI, Legin describes a unique dynamic: “Our relationship with CGI is a true partnership. We share ownership of challenges and targets, along with the associated risks and rewards. Like most financial services organizations, our IT environment is very complex. In an environment where the business challenges are ever changing, there are lots of things to keep us up at night, but CGI's rigorous environment and processes provide us with trusted 'sleep at night dependability' in their IT outsourcing. In a continually evolving global technical environment where there are new risks and challenges weekly, CGI and Conexus work in an effective partnership where we openly collaborate and challenge each other for continuous improvement.”

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