In 2017 when Credit Unions in Ireland were experiencing a reducing loan book, they recognised the need to develop a new, longer-term product for the lending market and as a result, introduced Credit Union mortgages.
Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) lead the way and created a framework to work with Credit Unions and help them both launch the new mortgage product and provide a platform to help manage the application and associated processes.
Target Integration (TI) was chosen to work with CUDA team members and develop a blueprint for an application which could not only manage the mortgages product in the short term, but also become the central application management system for Credit Unions.
In 2018, System for Application Management (SAM) was born.
SAM is now used by a large number of Credit Unions to manage the end to end application process. The system has a loan eligibility calculator, to help Loan Managers assess the eligibility of applications at an initial stage, as well as a full document management and a workflow systems.
The workflow system also allows external assessors to review applications and provide feedback. This is particularly useful for Credit Unions who may not have the internal capability, experience or resource to assess applications.
Consulting, Implementation, development
System for Application Management (SAM)
TI took the mortgage framework written by CUDA and created the specifications of the system, the security requirements needed and the data architecture to develope the software and provide ongoing support. Further information on SAM is available by emailing Target Integration at [email protected]
Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) is a Credit Union owned network that provides support facilities in the areas of regulatory compliance, risk management, shared services, and competency development.
New Process but No System
When the Credit Unions started on their mortgage journey, they didn’t have a system in place, just a framework and a 20-page application form. The form provided all the flexibility needed for applications, but offered no consistency, as any information collected was entered in freeform. There was no validation of the data and the process was prone to errors.
Bringing Users on Board
Credit Union users were distributed and working in various credit unions and hence it was difficult to bring them on board. This is where the relationship with CUDA worked so well, as they were able to help by creating a group of Subject Matter Experts (SME) who helped in defining the future of the system.
Complex Workflows for Multiple Stake Holders
While the TI team was working on the application, they had to deal with the external stakeholders as well as internal stakeholders. Workflows were complex, as were the calculations involved, and validation from EU regulators was key to the system’s success.
Although data protection and security is integral to any CRM system implementation in the EU, it was even more important when dealing with the financial data of the Credit Unions’ customers. A number of different access levels was required, with complex rules on who was able access to which areas of the system.
TI worked on the full system specification, business workflow requirements, development and implementation of the system, as well as the backend infrastructure, and delivered all of this together with best of breed support mechanisms.
The system was named as System for Application Management (SAM).
SAM was integrated with the Credit Union Support Platform (CUSP) (read more here) and has scope to develop various different application types in the future.
As a phased approach, Target Integration rolled out a complete requirement gathering procedure to DevOps framework for SAM. This was not just a one-time activity, as it involved multiple legacy software delivery processes, where the team members were distributed across the organisation. For the proven implementation approach, proper automation workflow, & the right set of tools it was very important for the overall success of organisations’ strategic goals.
TI provided a complete specification for the mortgage system and built a solution using Odoo Community Edition (version 9). It created a centralised system for tracking, monitoring and maintaining all mortgage lending loan application requests and a complete workflow for processing various operational iterations was produced and developed.
Different modules and tools were developed to reduce redundancy and repetition of brokers, that helped clients to easily, quickly and efficiently identify appropriate lenders based on commission and discount rates. In addition, a mortgage calculator was developed for easier calculations on mortgage pricing and interest rates.
Implementation of the System and Development
An agile assessment and strategy was formulated to establish and consolidate improvements and scalability. To standardise the new approaches for SAM DevOps, a transformation framework for the implementation of collaborative IT systems and phased developments was produced, that spanned people, process and collaborative tools.
A strategic approach to building a framework that combined pre-integrated, open-source software was established to reduce time, decrease errors and improve cost optimisation, and this was reviewed in readiness for the final implementation.
Reports and Business Intelligence
TI provided reporting as a business intelligence (BI) feature where the complete data in the system can be compiled from borrowers submitted documentation package. This helped the Credit Union to cross-check whether the correct and accurate data is displaying and flowing within the system.
Based on these reports, they can then take any necessary precautionary steps and set an advisory notice for any broker who is not following specific data guidelines. Additionally, the daily reporting provides specific details for the loan officers, such as their call volumes or revenue generated. This comprehensive reporting enables management to easily calculate the compensation or commission that each loan officer or assessor (or any other individual) is eligible for.
Overall, SAM’s reporting and BI capabilities create a level of transparency to the loan management system, through an additional layer of validation, verification and compliance throughout the loan application and lending process.
Training and User Onboarding
TI helped Credit Union team members to become well versed with the new unified and centralised system, and to understand the new digital operations and process workflow across the board.
This focus on training and onboarding was essential in order to significantly improve efficiency in the client’s operations. It enabled them to focus on driving more business through automation and due to the elimination of manual errors, the end to end mortgage support services involved lower costs.
External Users Reviews
Within the solution, TI provided a facility for external review, where Credit Unions were able to invite comments and guidance from external assessors if they didn’t have the necessary experience or expertise in house. This helped the client feel secure in their assessment of an application before finalising the mortgage loan request.
Application Management Automation
SAM not only automated the process of management for mortgage lending as a short-term objective, but established itself as a central application management system in the longer-term. As a result, the mortgage lending operators who had previously experienced document intensive challenges now had access to a seamless loan processing and mortgage lending solution.
Many challenges such as manual reviews, annotations, data validation errors, evaluation of paper files, time-consuming workflows (due to manual retrieval of necessary documents), cumbersome underwriting processes or the inefficient monitoring of the status of transactions, leading to lower customer responsiveness, were eliminated. Turnaround times were reduced with immediate indicators to external assessors, the correct evaluation of mortgage calculations and the faster closing of loan application requests – this was all possible due to the workflow automation delivered by SAM.
Successful Launch of Credit Union Mortgage Product
SAM was launched successfully under the title of Credit Union Mortage Product as a best practice mortgage framework to provide Credit Unions with all the tools necessary tools to offer consumer mortgages.
It is described as a workflow management system that ensures a consistent and compliant approach to mortgage lending and includes all the necessary supports and access to SAM.
The framework also allows users optional access to external file assessment by an industry expert and importantly, provides a centralised legal function available at bulk discount rates. In short, SAM has helped Credit Unions to offer mortgages effectively, efficiently, and compliantly.