Pioneer Bank, Chicago, has farmed its data processing out to the largest bank-owned computer services provider, M&I Data Services Inc.

The deal encompasses all core services, item processing, backroom operations, and automated teller machine support. The $400 million-asset bank, which converted to M&I in October, had been a customer of Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv Inc.

Bank officials said the move improves operational efficiency by bringing all the bank's processing under a single roof. With Fiserv, processing had been split between two sites.

"We believe M&I's system will improve our operations area, reduce our overhead, and allow us to increase our cross-selling opportumiles, as well as improve customer service," said Patricia Hrankaj, senior vice president for the bank.

M&I provides a number of capabilities the bank did not previously possess, including platform automation, on-line access to reports, and optical disk storage.

The $400 million-asset-bank is using M&I's Salesparmer and PCTeller branch automation products, as well as Star View, M&I's new on-line report viewing and archive relrieval product.

"We found M&I to be the best of the six vendors we researched in features, functionality, and overall technology offerings and direction," Ms. Hrankaj said.

"M&I invests the most in research and deVelop-ment, and their vision is very open and advanced, allowing us to receive and offer the most state-of-the-art technology now and in the future."

The Salespartner platform system speeds processing of new accounts, Ms. Hrankaj said. because all associated documentauon is automatically printed from information entered on personal computers.

The platform system also helps improve cross-selling, because bank representatives can pull up product information while talking with customers. This gives bank employees the opportunity to highlight product comparisons and to show customers how to set up financial portfolios.

Cross-selling, a process in which bank employees try to expand an institution's relationship with a customer, is becoming an increasingly important effort for community financial institutions, which pride themselves on their personal contact with customers. The StarView system provides on-line report viewing. Previously, daily reports were stored on Microfiche or on paper. With the new system, information going back four months is kept on the mainframe for quick access. Optical disks store records that must be kept longer.

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