Passionately Serving Our Clients Since 1995

Expert Services Designed for Success

Hands-On Leadership Every Step of the Way

 

You can count on Next Step to deliver industry leading consulting and project management services, supported by processes built by us from the ground up. Next Step takes a better approach thereby achieving superior results. System evaluations and conversions are large undertakings; having an experienced advocate with advanced methods such as Next Step makes all the sense in the world.

Strategic Technology Assessments

Strategic Technology Assessments

Strategic Technology Assessments

Core, Digital & Key Ancillary Systems

Knowing How Your Systems are Enabling or Impeding You is Crucial to Future Success

Great management and staff need to be supported by systems that actually enable the institution’s strategic plan to be realized. Too often executives are constrained from fully realizing their vision by systems lacking the features/functionality needed to propel the organization into the future. In some cases, the situation can be even more concerning as the current systems can indeed do what is necessary but are not being tapped and utilized effectively, resulting in lost opportunity.

Gaining an Objective and Informed View on the Situation

Next Step’s strategic technology assessment delivers clear insight into whether your systems are aligned with your strategic drivers. It includes a comprehensive review across all lines of business and key systems, including core, digital banking, financial/accounting, loan origination, ATM/debit, credit card, etc. The service gets to the bottom of it:  Are your key systems meeting your business requirements? Next Step also brings an extra advantage by identifying whether your systems are providing industry best practice and leading functionality and uncovering process deficiencies.

Go-Forward Strategy

Go-Forward Strategy

Bringing Clarity to Your Go-Forward Strategy

Our strategic technology assessment positions executives with the necessary information to determine which systems need to be addressed with a utilization and process improvement initiative and which systems need to be potentially replaced via a vendor evaluation and selection process. If an evaluation is applicable, Next Step will have the information necessary to finalize a customized Request For Proposal (RFP) immediately – with no lost time. 

System Selection Services

System Selection

System Selection

Selecting a Core System May Be the Most Important Decision of Your Career

The final choice can impact your organization for years to come and will be a career maker or breaker. You need more than boilerplate checklists and canned yes and no answers to confidently make an informed decision for a new system.

It Can Be Overwhelming

Any executive or project manager who has been through the process of comparing and selecting a new core solution knows the process is exhausting. There are so many important issues to consider -- how do you know you're making the right choice for your institution? Have you identified all the potential gaps and risks? Are you sure you've cut through vendor biases? Do you have the facts you need to objectively evaluate the options?

Now There’s a Safer, Better Way

Next Step's process does not involve boilerplate checklists and do it yourself kits. We take a much more comprehensive approach. Why? Because you don't just need to know if a system does or doesn't do something. You need to know how the system does it. Armed with this information, your organization will understand which solution is tailored for how you want to do business.

We Demand More From the Process.

More details about what you really need from the new system so we can fully educate the vendors. More facts about how the solutions will help you achieve your business objectives. More specifics about how each system will meet your unique operational requirements. More interaction with the vendor's experts and executive management. More background about vendor strengths, weaknesses and service history. More disclosure to shake out surprises that could impact your conversion and customers/members. We make sure you know "how" your needs will be met, not just "if" the vendor has the capabilities.

Comprehensive, Customized and Objective

Through our Total Vendor Evaluation Process, Next Step provides banks and credit unions with a comprehensive comparison and selection service that's customized for every client, including RFP development, vendor invitations, content of system demonstrations, reference reviews, functionality gap analysis and conversion planning. With the foundation for the future success of your institution riding on selecting the right system and the right vendor, you can't afford to take any shortcuts. Next Step can help ensure you find the highest performing solution that meets the specific needs of your institution. You can also rest assured that Next Step has absolutely no affiliations with any vendor organizations - just mutual respect. We are your advocate.

Role and Process

Role and Process

We serve as your Project & Risk Manager throughout every step of the selection process.

Hands-On and Very Involved

Next Step serves as much more than just an advisor or outsider who knows the vendors and collects information databases. We take a very involved approach, enabling us to understand your organization at the deepest level. Next Step serves as your Project & Risk Manager working on a day to day basis with your Evaluation Team and the vendors. We are active participants in every single step - including every needs assessment meeting, every system demonstration, every specification gathering session, every third-party product review, every reference visit, every contract negotiation session -- everything. Again, no shortcuts.

Our Approach to the Process Makes a World of Difference

Next Step’s unique conversion perspective, based on our President and staff’s collective experience with 250+ system conversions, has enabled us to develop a selection process that is clearly better. The way we develop your RFP, the way system demonstrations are conducted, the way functionality differences are identified, the way references are checked, the way conversion surprises are uncovered, the way third-party requirements are solved, the way the contracts are negotiated, etc. -- all done with a real-life (non-theoretical) conversion perspective. Just like with the systems, you don’t just need to know if a consulting firm does or doesn’t do something. You need to know how the consulting firm does it. We look forward to walking through the process with you, step by step. We are positive you will agree to the numerous advantages.

Vendor Contract Negotiations

Vendor Contract Negotiations

Vendor Contract Negotiations

A Game Changing Process That Achieves Optimal Results for Our Clients

We're in Your Corner

Working as a partner with your executive team and counsel, Next Step coordinates, facilitates, and negotiates the entire vendor contracts process and supporting pricing analysis. In doing so, we ensure your new vendor contracts are comprehensive and manage the risks to your institution.

Revolutionized Contracts Process

Revolutionized Contracts Process

As our clients and vendors tell us, Next Step’s contracts process is like no one else’s.

The process is proprietary and cannot be shared on our web site; however, we will be happy to review every step with you during our discussions about your initiative.

Conversion Management

Conversion Management

Conversion Management

When It Comes to System Conversions, It’s All About Experience and Expertise

We Know What Must Go Right and What Can't Go Wrong

Next Step’s seasoned, hands-on Conversion Management experts will ensure you avoid the typical pitfalls that jeopardize so many conversions in this industry. Banks and credit unions have enormous responsibilities to complete in order to attain success. Next Step can help. Our specialists will provide the strong leadership your organization needs to supplement your internal resources and guide you through all the complexities. Next Step serves as the Project and Risk Manager for your team’s responsibilities and fills the key role as liaison with the core vendor and third-parties. We are a very experienced advocate helping you every day to seize the opportunities while avoiding the pitfalls. We know what must go right - and can’t go wrong. You can count on us to be 100% objective, proactively looking out for your best interests at all times.

Customer/Member Impact is Consideration #1

Our unique 11 point risk management methodology complements and integrates with the core vendor’s approach, securing a very successful and timely conversion. Customer/Member impact is always consideration #1 with every decision, thereby ensuring the right perspective at all times. Taking care of your share of the work in an expert manner makes a huge difference in the results. You will go into go-live conversion ready and confident - and the vendor will also be positioned for one of their best conversions. With Next Step, everyone wins.

Role and Process

Role and Process

We serve as your Project & Risk Manager throughout every step of the conversion process.

Your Trusted Day to Day Leader

Next Step’s Project & Risk Manager is not a “paper pusher”. We apply our 11 point risk management methodology at a detailed level, getting involved with each of your project team members on a daily basis. As part of our Master Assurance Plan™, we develop an integrated project timeline covering all the institution tasks, vendor tasks and third-party tasks - ensuring all dependencies are established. We work with your management to build the best possible project team and set clear responsibilities and accountabilities for all tasks and events. Our clients rely on our Project & Risk Manager to be their team’s leader, bringing practical discipline, showing how to complete the tasks successfully, and providing expert guidance. It is our job to work with your team and vendors to proactively manage the inherent risks involved in such a large initiative, avoiding the pitfalls and obstacles before they occur. You can count on us to take on the difficult issues head-on without delay.

Full Scope Project Management Service

As you would expect, Next Step’s Project & Risk Manager handles the administrative functions, such as maintaining the project timeline, scope control, status reporting, etc. More importantly, our responsibilities also include working with your vendors and your team to ensure timely and successful completion of all project components. With our “no short-cuts” approach, we manage data validation, acceptance testing, procedure development, customization requirements, interfaces, training, network considerations, and more. Very importantly, we make sure your team’s valuable time is not wasted during every step of this challenging process.

Our Approach to the Process Makes a World of Difference

We know conversions - our roots are conversions - our passion is conversions. With our involvement, you can expect great results. As with our Vendor Selection process, we approach things differently during conversions. No shortcuts in the data validation process, no shortcuts in the acceptance testing, no shortcuts in the staff training, no shortcuts in readiness assessment. Everything is done in a practical, efficient manner with the full support of the vendor. The disciplined, smart approach Next Step provides to your institution achieves the results you want. Just like with the systems, you don’t just need to know if a consulting firm does or doesn’t do something. You need to know how the consulting firm does it. We look forward to walking through the process with you, step by step. We are positive you will agree to the numerous advantages.

Testing Consultation

Testing Consultation

Specialized Help to Reinforce the Key Risk Area of Testing

Next Step’s Project & Risk Manager oversees the overall project, managing all involved parties. The full-time, dedicated commitment of a testing coordinator on your team is also essential to the success of the project. If your institution does not have a qualified individual available for this role, Next Step can dedicate a Testing Consultant whose sole focus every day is to ensure that all system components are comprehensively validated and tested according to the Test Plan. The Testing Consultant provides detailed hands-on guidance to your testing team on a day-to-day basis to validate all converted data, perform acceptance testing, and resolve issues.

Training Advice & Counsel

Training Advice & Counsel

With effective training, your staff will gain the knowledge to confidently use the system from the very first day live, thus ensuring no degradation in customer/member service.

One of the largest risks to the institution is significant loss in productivity as each individual transitions from a high level of comfort with the old ways and accepts the new way of doing business. If this transition is not managed effectively, there will be a significant loss of productivity and negative customer/member impact. The training requirements associated with a conversion or acquisition are exponential compared to day to day teller turnover training. If your institution does not have a training manager with experience in major conversions, Next Step can assign a Training Advisor to help guide your training manager at a detailed level through the enormous task.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and Acquisitions

At the Heart of a Merger/Acquisition is the Technology Conversion

The need for strong project management and hands-on expertise escalates during mergers and acquisitions.

Understanding & Know-How

Next Step knows the issues and risks involved in getting two organizations on disparate systems to make the required decisions and transition effectively to a single solution. Most importantly, we understand the potential negative impact to your customers/members, staff and bottom line. We have provided project and risk management services for numerous multi-billion dollar acquisitions, including large mergers of equal sized institutions. We have also worked smaller initiatives, ensuring the same level of high success. Perhaps the best indicator of our value is the fact that the same clients utilize our services for multiple M&A engagements as they fulfill their growth strategies.

Next Step Gets You Started Fast

M&As typically come with very strict deadlines, thereby demanding a very fast startup on the technology conversion. Next Step’s approach ensures your staff is immediately productive on key tasks that must be completed quickly to ensure timely success. With proven tools and processes in hand, we get the business units of both organizations working on product consolidation/mapping, process review, and operational integration. At the same time, we work with your team to compare the two system environments and determine what components will comprise the new combined environment. We then develop a detailed strategy for conversion.

11 Point Risk Management Methodology Delivers Success

The fast start is complimented by the simultaneous development of our Master Assurance Plan™, integrated project timeline covering all tasks, and the ongoing management of the initiative according to our 11 point risk management methodology. All efforts are focused on managing the risks, completing the job on time and within budget, ensuring staff readiness with new systems and procedures, and minimizing impact to the customers/members. The bottom line -- your institution will be able to realize benefits of the merger or acquisition as planned.

Process Improvement

Process Improvement / ROI

Process Improvement / ROI

Transforming the Way Your Institution Works by Exploiting the New System's Power

Today's Leading Systems Offer Significant Opportunity for Improving a Financial Insituition's Operations

Next Step can help you get the most return on your technology investment through an organization-wide process improvement initiative. We perform this service with the active participation of the core system vendor and representatives from each area of your institution. Our best practice experience and vendor insight combined with your institution’s knowledge of its operations enable optimum results.

Our methodology addresses your most significant process needs during the conversion project followed by an optional full process review approximately 90 days following conversion, once management and staff have obtained significant experience using the new system in a production environment. Next Step’s process improvement methodology results in each targeted process getting redesigned from start to finish – taking advantage of the new core system and ancillary systems.

Business Planning Assistance

Business Planning Assistance

From time to time, our clients see the value of applying Next Step’s unique disciplines, expertise and perspective to the institution’s business planning efforts.

We are always happy to provide assistance with our very practical and measurable business planning process. We see this as a specialized service for executive teams who have recently completed a major technology initiative and see the improved business planning and process improvement components as an integral part of their ongoing strategy.