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Planning for Software Releases

Updated April 16th 2014

Ever wonder what’s coming for CU*BASE or It’s Me 247 online banking or other CU*Answers tools?  This page is intended to help you keep in the loop for things that are in the pipeline or nearing completion.  Just remember that our development cycle is a living, breathing machine and we are committed to remaining flexible and nimble so that we can continue to meet the needs of our clients, partners, regulators, and, most importantly, your members.  (In other words, all dates and slated projects are subject to change!)

What we hope you will get out of this page is a general understanding of the procedures and policies our teams must follow in reviewing project requests and monitoring how they move between the various stages of the development process: from initial request, to approval, to design (the “specs”), to production, to testing, to documentation, to communication and training for clients, then finally to implementation and follow-up. The process is time-tested and your understanding of the procedures will help you understand how our "factory" operates on a daily basis.

What drives development decisions?

There are many factors that control what projects can make it past the “what an interesting idea” stage into actual design specifications and programmer development (meaning: spending the CUSO’s money!).  Here are some key drivers that influence your CUSO every day (in no particular order):

Business Drivers

Event Drivers

Client Drivers

Professional Services that push software development

Annual or periodic events that prompt changes in software

Client-related needs that push software development

  • Xtend SRS Bookkeeping
  • Audit Link
  • Lender*VP (including Lender RE, Collections, Retailer Direct, Payday Lending, etc.)
  • Xtend (including Member Reach, Shared Branching, CU*OverDrive, Xtension, etc.)
  • Gividends
  • eDOC Innovations
  • Leadership Conference
  • CEO Strategies
  • Focus Groups

 

  • Regulatory changes
  • Software sales/contractual obligations
  • Custom work
  • Changes by 3rd-party vendors
  • Direct requests from clients

 

What drives implementation timing?

The Production Team meets on a weekly basis to evaluate projects that are moving through the pipeline and getting ready to be slated for a release. In addition to the releases shown in the schedule below, the team also handles the implementation of minor program modifications as needed between the scheduled regular releases, including mods that also require an update to the GUI interface (a “GOLD Update”). There are a number of factors this team considers when slating specific projects for a particular release date:

  • Progress and results of Quality Control testing – is the software good to go?
  • Are there potential conflicts between different projects that touch the same programs?  In some cases we delay one project because another, concurrent project may involve the same programs, and we do not want to risk one set of changes interfering with another.  Sometimes the projects can be merged, but occasionally it is safer to implement one project, make sure it’s stable, then proceed to the next project in an orderly manner.
  • What’s the availability of resourcesCan the project actually be completed in time?
  • Are there regulatory deadlines or conversion dates or third-party mandates we have to work around?
  • What specific promises have been made that we are working to keep?
  • Will there be ample time for alerting clients and offering training?  Sometimes a bigger project is delayed to a later release simply so that we have enough time to offer several training sessions and dissemination of documentation to all affected parties.
  • Is a beta period important for this project?  Again, we often slate projects for a major release simply because it will be critical to run the changes in the more controlled environment of a beta-test before releasing them to the network at large. Want to get involved in our beta testing process? Jump in the Beta Pool to sign up.

Who manages this development at CU*Answers?

Unlike a traditional department or specific group of staff, software development at CU*Answers is driven by a network of leaders from all areas of the organization as well as external players from partners to clients and members.  Here are two key teams that drive the day-to-day work:

Production Team

This team consists of the key leaders for “the factory” - meaning all of the different phases in the development of software tools, from programming to QC to documentation. Our planning includes EFT, online banking, audio response, and CU*BASE, since the tools often intertwine and share resources. 

Design Strategy Team

This team consists of players from both production and support areas who can contribute insights and ideas into the future design of our products, especially CU*BASE, online banking/ARU, and EFT-related projects. This group meets once or twice a year to “dream” - to brainstorm on new ideas, decide on future directions, evaluate trends and client requests, and conceptualize which tools and products should make their way to the factory floor.

When are releases scheduled?

Version CU*Answers
Online CUs
(Sunday)
CU*NorthWest /
CU*South
(Sunday)
PTF for Self
Processing CUs
(Mon-Tue)
14.0May. 11, 2014 May. 11, 2014 June 9 & 10, 2014
14.1Jul. 13, 2014 Jul. 20, 2014 With 14.2 (Oct.)
14.3Nov. 9, 2014 Nov. 16, 2014 With 14.4 (Dec.)
14.4Dec. 7, 2014 Dec. 7, 2014 Dec. 15 & 16, 2014

*Additional self-processor PTFs will be scheduled at least once between each of the major releases, or more frequently as needed. Minor updates to fix various reported software issues will be pushed to online clients as needed, and may or may not require a corresponding CU*BASE GOLD update (to push the GUI-related changes to client workstations). Depending on the scope of changes being made, these minor releases may not be listed on this schedule.

How can I keep track of what’s coming down the road?

Check out a Big Picture View (the coming year in development)
Every year at the Leadership Conference we introduce some of the major initiatives and projects that we will be working on over the coming year.  Check out the presentation from the Leadership Conference for big-picture ideas for your credit union’s next Business Plan.

Review the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) Policy
If you're wondering why a project you submitted a while ago was suddenly referenced again in an email as "Pending approval" or "Closed," it could be because it hit the 6-month rule covered by the SDLC. In a nutshell, if we can't complete a modification in 6 months or start on a design change in 6 months, we need to run the project through our evaluation process again.

Review the working Project Release Plan (Updated: April 16th 2014 )
This is the most important document used on a daily basis by our Production Team to plan for software releases.  Remember that this is a working document, and it is subject to change at any time.  No promises should be implied by this document: we reserve the right to change, remove, or reschedule any project from this list, even those that have already been slated for an approaching release, based on QC test results or changing priorities. 

Monitor the projects you’ve submitted
Want to see what’s happening with a particular project number?  Need to track the status of a special custom project? To track your individual projects, check out the Monitor site.  Monitor lets you drill down to see the current status of every project # that has been entered on behalf of your credit union.

Read about projects already implemented
All major releases (and most monthly or periodic GOLD updates) are communicated via a Release Summary that is emailed to all clients and posted on our News page. This same information is also available via the “What’s New?” topic in CU*BASE GOLD online help. In addition, at the beginning of each month, we send a “Monthly Monitor Recap” newsletter to all clients that recaps all of the modifications that were implemented the previous month, including projects that were part of a CU*BASE GOLD update, as well as behind-the-scenes changes to host programming only. Back issues of the Monthly Monitor Recap can be viewed on the Release Summaries page.

Join the beta pool! We're always on the lookout for credit unions willing to participate in the beta-test period for major CU*BASE software releases. If your credit union would like be in the pool considered for beta testing new features and enhancements, we need you!

Be a part of the Active Beta Study Group! Get the first look at newly introduced tools and provide valuable feedback via a new collaborative community website.

Because of the rapidly changing nature of ATM, Debit and Credit Card processing tools, the Gividends Team has several web pages devoted specifically to these projects, including status updates on upcoming vendor and network mandates, as well as a list of recently-implemented changes.

 
 

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