Executive Summary / Abstract
HML is the UK’s largest mortgage servicer, providing outsourced mortgage administration for more than 50 UK and Irish clients, and operating out of three UK locations – Skipton (North Yorkshire – head office), Londonderry (Northern Ireland) and Glasgow. The company was established in 1988 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Skipton Building Society. It manages around £43bn for some of the largest players in the UK and US financial markets.
In late 2007 HML embarked on its Business Process Management (BPM) journey to improve, streamline and increase overall control of the credit management processes in response to rapidly changing market conditions and regulatory requirements. HML’s first BPM initiative, the credit management workflow system (CREWS) was initiated to address these requirements and contain cost. CREWS delivered automated functionality for HML’s pre-litigation department. Feedback was gathered from the business area to continuously improve CREWS over the next two years and ensure what was delivered was in line with business requirements, therefore eliminating any rework.
From 2010 through 2011, HML delivered significant enhancements to the initial CREWS application, with improvements in query responsiveness, agile development methodology and improved process efficiency. In addition, in early 2011, a new credit management enhancement project was completed to augment CREWS with possessions process automation.
The CREWS programme objective was to automate repeatable, efficient, consistent credit management strategies across the client base. The programme structure utilized closely integrated business and IT members all working collaboratively towards a common goal. The team worked closely with IBM, who implemented the business process management toolset, to ensure a robust and responsive system.
The workflow functionality enables us to operate in a multi-client environment by modeling and automating more than 50 different credit management strategies. The tool has 400 business rules, uses 100 data attributes as the basis for its decisions and is used by around 350 HML credit management consultants.
By moving more capabilities to this world-class platform, the credit management process is streamlined, more efficient and consistent.
The possessions automation enhancement was designed to provide a significant reduction in risk and costs for clients. This was achieved by automating cancellations, drain down and marketing processes for selling a repossessed property on behalf of a client.
- HML’s credit management function was heavily focussed on manual tasks to drive the collections process.
- Employees had to run reports from the core system and split the work by process area. The reports were exported to excel spreadsheets, manually manipulated and pushed out to staff.
- Report segmentation was used to identify data to populate outbound calling strategies within the dialler system.
- Operational management information was produced using reports and excel spreadsheets.
- Letter production was resource intensive with staff working from lists and manually requesting letters using screens in the core system.
- The high degree of manual intervention opened up risks around human error and the possibility of accounts ‘falling through the gaps’.
- The possessions function also focussed heavily on manual tasks:
- Employees had to manually segment accounts for property possession.
- Management of the selling price and marketing of the property was inefficient
- Manual tasks for drain down, clean and clear were required
- With the extensive manual efforts, costs associated with debt recovery were significant.
- CREWS and possessions both directly addressed these shortfalls and moving forward, the IBM BPM project will further develop HML’s BPM programme. Without the BPM project, HML would have faced rising costs in an industry where equity was declining, severely impacting its ability to compete.
The Key Innovations
The CREWS and possessions projects have delivered a faster and more efficient credit management function that is less open to human error resulting in improved relationships with clients and trust in the credit management team internally and externally.
The improved possessions process has drastically shortened the amount of time HML employees spend on the process and fully automated reporting.
Training for new and existing employees is much easier because processes are clearly defined, and ‘coaches’ are used to guide employees through the specific task they are working on.
By automating non value add manual processes, such as the identification and distribution of work items, employees have more time to spend with customers to achieve positive results. This has delivered an increase in staff morale and improved overall engagement within the team. People also have a greater understanding of how the speed and accuracy of their work impacts on the credit management and arrears process.
Team managers have access to real-time dashboard reporting, which gives an instant view of key data, such as SLA reporting, enabling more informed resource allocation.
Below: Dashboards now available to managers following possessions project:
- The key management challenge was rolling out the improvement to our clients within a set timescale and on budget. A single team enabled dedicated subject matter experts from the business, IT and testing resource to deliver on time and fulfill client expectations.
- To manage the cost challenges, HML uses an agile IT approach to change implementation. This fluid approach allows for planned changes, which are later proven to be ineffective, to be removed from the process saving money and resource.
The key business challenge was convincing credit management and possessions employees that current processes could be improved and BPM was not a replacement for employees. To counter these issues, change champions were nominated from the impacted areas. They were provided with detailed information and involved in the business readiness activity, which in turn aided operational buy-in at the user level.
- With CREWS being the first implementation of BPM technology in the organization, a centre of excellence (CoE) was created. This was made up of modelers, developers and testers following documented best practice and strict standards.
- With the CoE in place, the subsequent rollout of the possessions project was easier to deliver on time and on budget.
- At a high level, the organization has embraced BPM and sees it as an enabler for process change, control and efficiency which provides flexibility in resource deployment to manage workloads.
- To communicate changes, the project team provides monthly updates to employees. This way changes are bite-size and manageable and people can see the evolution of the project in stages.
- Following the success of CREWS and possessions HML has further committed to driving through process efficiency.
- In mid 2011 HML made the strategic decision to replace the current electronic document management system. In order to achieve this HML will create a digital mailroom with OCR capability, replace the existing document workflow system using BPM, and improve its image storage.
- The BPM solution will be a key component in the delivery and management of all incoming written correspondence and provide real-time reporting. Delivery of this capability is currently on track for early 2012.
The CREWS project has achieved savings of 22 FTE’s due to the elimination of manual tasks translating into a cost saving of £400,000 a year.
The possessions project is anticipated to return equivalent financial benefits within a 19 month timescale and has reduced equivalent FTE spend by 10 - a further cost saving of £182,000 per year.
The Workflow programme has a target benefit potential of 12 FTE’s attributed to removal of manual activity delivering an additional saving of £218,000 to the amount saved by HML since the adoption of BPM.
Speed of change to strategies is key to HML’s clients in the current market place. CREWS has provided a platform to quickly manage this change without the need for lengthy development, test and deployment.
The possessions project will realize the following time reduction benefits:
- Reducing the processing time for new possessions by up to 60 per cent
- Reducing the processing time for marketing and price set by up to 40 per cent
- Reducing the processing time for price reduction by up to 60 per cent.
HML’s clients benefit from a number of features:
- HML can guarantee greater adherence to client strategies. This means HML has been able to eliminate the type of errors that arise from manual intervention, and ensure consistency and accuracy, making sure that all borrowers are treated in accordance with the clients’ strategies, or those developed through HML’s analytics, and within a strict Treating Customers Fairly framework.
- Elimination of manual intervention also means improved compliance reporting to demonstrate strategies and processing are effective and in accordance with the Financial Services Authority regulations;
- Clients benefit from better credit management results, with the aim of getting pre-litigation accounts to ‘cure’, where there are no arrears. Automation leaves our consultants more time to spend with customers and field counsellors to achieve positive results;
- IBM BPM offers HML increased flexibility, with the system able to respond quickly to any changes in client strategies by updating the relevant business rule.
- Better customer experience - a ‘base-switching’ problem meant customers were previously on a call for 45 seconds while a switch to the appropriate system was made
HML can draw the following benefits from the possessions project:
- Possessions information is clearer and more reliable
- Possessions will be easier to maintain in the future resulting in reduced costs and resource commitments
CREWS has improved Business as Usual (BAU) support by raising the level of queries answered to 90 per cent within one hour.
This means 90 per cent of queries are answered comfortably within the SLA guidelines, and as such, a strategic rethink on SLA times has been proposed.
Best Practices, Learning Points and Pitfalls
Best Practices and Learning Points
- Business Sponsorship
- Lean Agile development method
- Frequent iteration delivery
- Alignment with business needs
- Acceptance of system is ongoing
- Robust Change Control
- Integrated business and IT team is crucial
- Keep It Small & Simple
- Select a process that crosses humans and systems
- Measure the baseline process
- Speed – How long does the process take
- Cost – What is the cost of the process
- Experience – What value does the process bring
- Involve everyone the process touches
- Top-level buy-in
- Appoint a process owner
- Set Expectations
- Speed – What time improvements are expected?
- Cost – What cost reductions will be made?
- Experience – How will the user experience change?
- The person responsible for the process outcome has to ‘own’ the process
- Ownership is important for collaboration purposes
- Collaboration takes place when designing the process and within the process
- Perform a dress rehearsal of the implementation in a controlled ‘like for like’ test region to increase confidence in the actual implementation process, timescales and flush out last minute bugs.
- Close partnership with your BPM provider and 3rd party resource providers.
- Know your baseline to enable clear measurement of improvements.
- Perform meaningful proof of concept and pilot prior to full scale project roll out.
- Be prepared to manage the flexibility requirements versus the performance requirement. Manage both to arrive at a suitable level of each.
- HML is still coming to terms with the full scale of BPM’s capability, so setting goals or targets too far in advance can lead to future inefficiencies.
CREWS has enabled HML to offer its clients a faster, more accurate and consistent service in accordance with regulations. Clients can save money through time saved in the possessions process by getting properties to market faster.
HML is currently replacing its existing task management system used for handling all mortgage related activities with IBM BPM. This represents further investment in BPM and is driven by benefits already realized through the CREWS and possessions projects.
HML anticipates a significant increase in the volumes of tasks per month over the next five years. IBM BPM has allowed project managers to plan for approximate annual increases of up to 50 per cent.
CREWS, possessions and IBM PBM have all created a more compelling proposition for HML’s commercial team to take to the market. Increased efficiency and cost-saving projections play a big part in boarding new clients and cross-selling to existing clients, of which the credit management department is a crucial part.
The key elements of the CREWS and possessions solutions are;
- IBM Business Process Manager, Standard. This has been used to develop the Credit Management Strategies and fully automates the management of the processes that implement those strategies.
- HML’s core system. This is the legacy system which maintains the detail of accounts, takes payments, registers arrears etc.
- HML peripheral applications. These handle such actions as sending letters and automatically dialing customers.
These elements have been fully integrated using Web Services, allowing each system to focus on what it does best. The systems exchange information in real time, ensuring that all decisions are made on up-to-the-minute data.
The credit management strategies and associated business rules are held in the IBM BPM system in the form of Business Process Definitions, allowing users to create and make changes to the strategies using the highly productive and intuitive IBM BPM graphical interface.
We have also developed a number of key, reusable components in IBM BPM, which, combined with the graphical interface, ensure that coding and development effort is kept to a minimum.
The data relating to the position of an account is held in the core system, and is passed, via Web Services to the IBM BPM system in real time. The IBM BPM system assesses the account and moves it through the relevant strategy, automating actions wherever possible.
Many of these actions involve interacting with other HML systems, for example sending a letter, or placing an account into the automatic dialing system – and again the integration has been completely automated using web services. Once in the IBM BPM system, an account will be fully monitored by the system until it is either cured or moves to the litigation stage.
The Technology and Service Providers
IBM is the market leader in Business Process Management (BPM). IBM empowers organizations of all sizes to exceed their customers' expectations, anticipate shifts in their marketplace, and keep costs under control. It takes a process aware organization to achieve this level of agility and IBM has both the tools and the knowhow to transform you into one.
IBM Business Process Manager is a comprehensive BPM platform giving you visibility and insight to manage business processes. It scales smoothly and easily from an initial project to a full enterprise-wide program. IBM Business Process Manager harnesses complexity in a simple environment to break down silos and better meet customer needs.
For more information, visit: www.ibm.com/software/info/itsolutions/business-process-management/
Copyright: This case study was originally published in the Excellence in Practice series in the book entitled “Delivering Competitive Advantage” published by Future Strategies Inc. ©