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.
Release Planning Testimonial from the “Developing Solutions in a Cooperative” Boot Camp
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):
Professional services that push software development
Annual or periodic events that prompt changes in software
Client-related needs that push software development
What drives implementation timing?
The Product Team meets every Tuesday to evaluate projects that are moving through the pipeline and getting ready to be slated for a release. 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 resources? Can 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 disseminate 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.
Driving the day-to-day work is the Product 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/mobile banking, imaging strategies, and CU*BASE, and the tools often intertwine and share resources.
When are releases scheduled?
|Version||Online CUs: CU*Answers, CU*NorthWest, CU*South||PTF for Self
|23.12||Dec. 10, 2023 (Sunday)||Dec. 17, 2023 (Sunday)|
|24.05||May. 5, 2024 (Sunday)||May. 5, 2024 (Sunday)|
|24.10||Oct. 6, 2024 (Sunday)||Oct. 6, 2024 (Sunday)|
|24.12||Dec. 8, 2024 (Sunday)||Dec. 8, 2024 (Sunday)|
Our release numbering scheme includes the year and the month. For example, a CU*BASE GOLD release in February 2021 would be 21.02, and one in May would be 21.05. (The month # is based on when online CUs are scheduled to receive the release.) All dates are subject to change. If a release is rescheduled, the release number will be changed.
What effort goes into a typical release?
A recent, fairly typical fall release included more than 70 projects, which involved changes to over 800 program objects, 1700+ custom program objects and 45 file changes. All of this added up to more than 11,800 programming and QC hours. Each major release is deployed in 3 phases: a beta phase for 3 or 4 clients over a 6-week testing period, followed by the general release where it goes to all CU*Answers online and Site-Four credit unions, and finally, deployment to our self-processing clients a week or so later. The effort to package the release and install it took 3 people over 250 hours to ensure that nothing was missed. On the Sunday of each phase of the deployment there is a group of up to 8 or more people that get up before 6 AM ET to get everything running before anyone in the outside world tries to use the updated CU*BASE system.
What happens after the release?
In addition to our extensive QC testing efforts prior to any software changes being released, we also have a Post-Release Validation (PRV) program that extends the verification process even after software has been implemented. Read more about this on the PRV page.
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.
Track our plans and progress on major projects in the Kitchen
We use this page to introduce major projects and hot topics that are either in the design phase or in development. Check here often to see what’s cooking!
Review the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) Policy (Updated: February 10th 2023)
This policy documents the rules and procedures for approving, tracking and communicating the status of software development as it moves through the CU*Answers production factory, from initial request all the way through final implementation for clients. Additionally, a PowerPoint presentation is available here, which provides a brief overview of the Software Development Cycle.
Review the working Project Release Plan (Updated: November 29th 2023)
This is the most important document used on a daily basis by our Product 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.
Read about projects already implemented
All major releases (and most monthly 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.
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 (and there might even be some $money$ in it for you!!