Case study: Pulling paper from the process

3 Oct 2005

Like many organisations the Irish Mortgage Corporation (IMC) was in danger of drowning in a sea of paperwork, not least because the country’s largest independent mortgage broker exists in a client service area that requires more forms and documentation than most. Around a year ago it set about doing something about it. Today the productivity gains are already measurable.

Fiona Deering, IMC director with responsibility for IT, believes the SoftCo R7 document management platform in which it has invested has already given them a competitive edge. “We are in a position to offer clients increased efficiencies and better customer service,” she says. “We want to make it easier for our customers to deal with us and I believe the SoftCo system is a crucial part of that.”

The process of making a mortgage application unleashes a tidal wave of paperwork including bank references, P60s and employer letters. Multiple copies have to be made and distributed among different lenders by the broker to see who can come back with the best rate.

To address this challenge Robert Hickey, SoftCo project manager, sat down with the IMC’s IT team to plan the new system and workflow. “They had PCs and were working with email but everybody was still very touchy-feely with paper. This was going to be a big jump across the ravine for them. And they had to be confident that it would work.”

A careful process of consultation began. Hickey explains: “They were telling us how their backend servers work and we came up with a diagrammatic solution. The next phase was to go away and build a mock-up. Deering came and gave us her input. We then made some tweaks before she came back with stakeholders and office managers.”

Installed last autumn, the R7 platform comprises a system for scanning, indexing and centrally archiving all documentation related to clients’ mortgage applications. All authorised staff has instant, centralised access to client files, without the need to share physical folders or documents. The system delivers significant productivity gains for the company, reduced costs and a better service for its clients.

Mindful that the transformation from paper-based processes to electronic document management represents a sizeable culture change for employees, SoftCo and IMC management started propagating the culture change early on in the process to get buy-in from everyone. “People can be the barrier,” says Hickey, “and they were nervous initially but the benefits soon won the day.”

The system fits into IMC’s backend customer management system; everything is web based and intuitive for easy archiving and retrieval. Regardless of whether employees are working with client files or emails, they can archive them directly into the system without having to print them out and send them down for scanning.

Such was the success of the implementation in dealing with new customers that plans to archive old records was accelerated with the investment of a second scanning station. Rows of filing cabinets that took up valuable office space have been removed creating more room for employees as the 85-strong company looks to grow further.

“R7 allows us to have the maximum flexibility in terms of making changes that were needed in order to integrate with our database,” says Deering. “We definitely made the right decision.”

Pictured: Irish Mortgage Corporation’s Fiona Deering with SoftCo project manager Robert Hickey

By Ian Campbell