Initiating a Special Project Request

Step by Step Procedures for Starting the Quote Process for a Client Request

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Introduction

CU*Answers clients periodically submit requests for special development work related to their CU*BASE membership data. Although these projects can take many different forms, we generally refer to them as either “custom programming” or “special jobs.” They might include anything from a one-time exchange of data with a third-party vendor, to the development of new functionality or a unique new tool for their staff and members. As outlined in Section N of our Online and Self Processing Pricing Guides (published annually at www.cuanswers.com > I am a Client), these types of projects are generally billed to clients on either an hourly or per-project basis according to a number of factors. This document describes the standard procedure we use to evaluate, price, and process these types of requests, from the original inquiry by a client through the research, bid, and approval process, all the way through final implementation.

Be a Project Champion! If the project you’re envisioning requires a closer, more involved relationship with a third-party vendor, or represents a completely new direction for the CUSO, your credit union may need to step up as a project champion. Check out the Project Champion Agreement to see what this entails.

Categories

To help explain the decision-making process which is required for these projects, following are the categories into which custom programming/special jobs fall for the purposes of this procedure:

Type Examples
A Basic Data Floods Projects where existing data in your CU*BASE files needs to be adjusted in a batch according to some simple or pre-defined filters.  Examples:

  • Branch # reassignments by ZIP code or transaction activity (after a branch closing, etc.)
  • Reassign DivApls for business accounts
  • Reorganize Delinquency Fine IDs
  • Reassign Loan Category codes
  • Reset ATM/Debit Limits
  • Remove/apply freeze codes

See “Other Projects” below for more complex data floods, or floods for which we have no existing programming in place.
NOTE:  Floods are appropriate for situations where there are more than 100 records to be updated; otherwise it is generally more cost-effective and efficient for the changes to be made manually. 

B Vendor Data Exchanges Transmitting CU*BASE data to a vendor or receiving data from a vendor and applying it to your CU*BASE files.  Includes simple one-time projects as well as ongoing routine exchanges.  (Also see “SSO Integrations” below.)  Examples:

  • Daily OTB maintenance and status updates (one- or two-way)
  • Insurance premiums and related data
  • Data transmissions to ALM vendor or other data aggregator
C Custom Fees By far the largest area of custom development, this category involves projects to assess fees that cannot be handled by the features available in the standard CU*BASE Service Charge programs.  Examples:

  • ID theft/fraud protection premiums
  • Wrong address (returned mail) fee
  • Monthly fee for ATM/Debit cards
  • HELOC fee
  • Annual IRA maintenance fee and other misc. annual fees

NOTE: An inventory of existing custom fee programs is available upon request, and we highly recommend you review it before submitting your new custom fee.  You may be able to reduce your expense and project timelines if we can adapt an existing custom program for you.

D SSO Integrations Integrations that allow a member or employee to jump directly from online banking or CU*BASE to access separate websites and tools, without the need to independently authenticate (log in).  Examples:

  • Displaying check images
  • Jump to a personal financial management (PFM) tool
  • Access electronic document archives
  • Online bill payment integration

See the separate Best Practices document Single Sign On (SSO) Integrations with CU*Answers Tools for additional details on the evaluation process for projects of this type.

E Other Projects All other custom development that doesn’t fall into the categories described above.  Examples:

  • One-time third-party interactions such as working with a plastics card vendor to synchronize CU*BASE and the vendor database following a conversion or merger (i.e., projects that are more complex and specialized than routine Vendor Data Exchanges)
  • Complex data floods such as where programming routines are needed to evaluate and translate data as part of the flood, or where new fields are needed, etc.
  • Restructuring account suffixes, reorganizing existing product configurations, etc.
  • Develop a custom report requiring more complex calculations and data manipulation not possible through Query.

Help for Compromised Cards!  Our SettleMINT EFT team also provides special services for handling compromised ATM, debit, and credit cards.  Please visit https://www.cuanswers.com/catalog/compromised-cards/?cat=201 for details and procedures to take advantage of these services.

Step by Step

  1. Contact Client Services to complete a Special Project Request/Authorization Form 
    The first step is to contact any Client Service Representative, who will complete a Special Project Request/Authorization Form.  This form gathers details necessary for us to begin the evaluation process.  Provide as many details as possible; the more thoroughly we understand your request and all it will entail, the more quickly your project can move through the channels.

    1. All requests must be reviewed by Client Services management.
    2. To allow us to track the status of your request, a project # will also be assigned in the Project Log Management (PLM) system.
  2. Project leader presents request to Production Team
    The Production Team reviews new custom project requests at its regular weekly meeting.  This team consists of representatives from Programming, Quality Control, Documentation, Management Services, and all other areas involved in our development production factory.  The purpose of this review is to help verify whether or not there are other, existing solutions that would meet the credit union’s needs without requiring custom work.
  3. Project leader conducts cursory overview, quotes Research/Design Fee (if applicable)
    The form will be passed along to the appropriate design team and management will perform a cursory overview to estimate the effort required for initial design research.  Factors at this stage include overall effort, resources required, vendor relationship and communication methodology (where applicable), coordination with production release schedules and other commitments, as well as whether or not the project is similar to another existing program or interface.  Some technical specifications may also be developed, to the extent necessary for us to complete our evaluation.  After this cursory review, a Research/Design Fee will be quoted.  This fee is intended to cover the cost of doing in-depth feasibility research and sketching out a design outline for how the project could proceed.
  4. CU approves Research/Design Fee
    Assuming the project proceeds to completion, this fee will be applied toward the total project cost.  Should the project Development Fee not be approved, or if the project falls through for any other reason, the Research/Design Fee is not refundable.
  5. Research/project design begins, with the goal of producing the following:
    1. Project Outline
      Specifics on project scope, development techniques, end-user look and feel, and other details so that all parties understand the work being undertaken.  If project involves working with a 3rd-party vendor, this will also involve research with the vendor into specifically what data will be exchanged as well as the mechanism/infrastructure for how data will be moved back and forth securely.  For fees, this involves looking at existing fee programs for similar prototypes and working with the credit union to iron out the details of the fee and waiver parameters.  Depending on the project, the outcome of this step may be anything from a simple letter outlining our plans, to a formal Project Requirements (“spec”) document, as appropriate.
    2. Quote for Project Development Fees
      For approval by the CU before development work begins.  Quote will also include estimated development timelines, to begin following CU authorization of the Development Fee.
  6. CU approves Development Fee
    Any timelines quoted in the Project Outline/Quote do not begin until this authorization is returned.
  7. Development
    Includes infrastructure (files and business logic) as well as end-user interface development.
  8. Working with a 3rd-Party Vendor
    If your project involves interactions with a 3rd-party vendor, remember that the timing of both the development as well as subsequent testing phases will largely be dependent on vendor timelines and resource availability.  Some projects may also entail additional certification fees from the vendor, independent of CU*Answers project fees.
  9. QC Testing
  10. End-user documentation, if appropriate
  11. Beta-testing, if appropriate
    If the project is intended for general release to all clients, beta-testing will be likely, in most cases with your credit union.
  12. Implementation (“Go Live”)
    This phase includes installing, configuring, and activating the new tools as well as other potential factors to be coordinated with your credit union, including time for CU staff training and/or notification of members if appropriate.  Depending on the project, your project may need to be coordinated as part of a normal CU*BASE release for all clients, or implementation will be coordinated with your teams specifically for use by your credit union.

    1. We will retain records of your project not only for historical tracking purposes but also to augment our Custom Fee Inventory, which is published to share your special fee income ideas with other credit unions throughout the network.

Typical Timelines

Every project is unique and must be evaluated to estimate specific time requirements and pricing.  Based on an analysis of over 450 completed custom projects going back to 2003, following are some rules of thumb for the minimum time you should expect to allow for your project, and a range of typical costs:

Type Prepare quote for Research/Design
$ Fee
CU approval is returned Do preliminary research/design; submit Project Outline/Quote $ to CU CU approval is returned Time to develop, test, and prepare project for implementation CU approval is returned Go live
(A)
Basic Data Floods
1 – 2 days
$0 – $200
xx days 2 – 5 days
$200 – $500
xx days 5 – 30 days xx days xx days
(B)
Vendor Data Exchanges
15 days
+ xx days to await a response from a vendor
$500
xx days 30 – 45 days
+ xx days to work with vendor and await a response
$1,000 – $10,000
xx days 45 – 90 days
or more depending on vendor and project complexity
xx days xx days
(C)
Custom Fees
10 days
$500
xx days 30 – 45 days
$1,000 – $5,000
xx days 45 – 90 days
or more depending on project
complexity
xx days xx days
(D)
SSO Integrations
10 days
$750
xx days 30 – 60 days
$1,000 – $25,000+
xx days 90 days to 6 months or more depending on project complexity xx days xx days
(E)
Other Projects
5 – 10 days
$200 – $750
xx days 30 – 60 days
$200 – $25,000+
xx days 90 days to 6 months or more depending on project complexity xx days xx days

All amounts and times are estimates based on historical patterns and are subject to change.  A specific quote will be provided for your project.

The Research/Design $ Fee is non-refundable but will be subtracted from your final project invoice.  Remember that you can save time and money by reviewing the inventory of existing custom fee programs before you submit your new custom fee.  Also ask us about taking advantage of other custom vendor interfaces before you choose your next new vendor.

A Word About Development Fees and the CUSO Pricing Philosophy

As described above, most custom projects will involve two fees:  one to cover the cost of performing the necessary research to develop a project plan and design direction, and another to cover the actual development cost of programming, testing, and documenting the tools.

As part of our evaluation of any request for custom development or third-party integrations, our team looks at each project from a big-picture standpoint to evaluate how it fits with current and future corporate goals and direction.  We consider whether the CUSO will be investing its own funds to produce an end-product that will ultimately become a standard product offering to all network participants, or if it’s just a simple custom project to facilitate your credit union’s desire to do business with a certain vendor, post a special fee to your members, or implement a special new tool.  This analysis will not only determine whether we move forward and how, but also whether CU*Answers will help fund the project.

In the end, whether or not CU*Answers chooses to invest directly in your project, or simply assist you in making it happen, we look forward to collaborating with you on a solution that will meet your credit union’s and your members’ needs and expectations.

Following are related documents that may be relevant to your project request.  All are available via www.cuanswers.com (view Best Practices).

Updated
January 23, 2017