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KM helps ease home mortgage marathon

As more financial institutions unite, their databases must fuse as well. Find out where KM fits into the process.

By Kim Ann Zimmermann

In the financial services industry, it is common for a mortgage or other loans to be bought and sold. My current mortgage, which is a little more than a year old, has already been sold to another financial institution. I can personally attest to the need for improved document management capabilities among financial institutions because my checking account was a mess—OK, messier than usual—for months after the merger with another bank.

Knowledge management systems must be able to handle current loans as well as new loans acquired through mergers. With more financial institutions doing business on the Web and by phone, the integration of call centers and Web technology into the bank's overall data management infrastructure is also critical.

As anyone who has ever applied for a mortgage has discovered, a lot of trees are killed in the process. What do the mortgage companies do with all that paper you hand them? They scan it, as does Chase Manhattan Mortgage, one of the largest mortgage originators and servicers, which handles thousands of paper documents each day.

Rick Duff, Chase Manhattan Mortgage's manager of software development and imaging, was charged with updating the financial institution's document management system. The bank recently installed Kofax solutions to scan and manage more than 2.5 million documents per month. That was a significant improvement over the previous 750,000-document limit.

One of the more important components of the new system is the ability to easily incorporate data from acquired mortgages. Ascent Capture enables Chase to index and store electronic documents, Web forms and other digital data streams, such as XML. Chase also is taking advantage of the software's new electronic data capture and optional polling capabilities. The company has begun to capture mainframe print streams using Ascent's Import Controller, converting them to image (TIFF) files, and then employing optical character recognition (OCR) to index values from the images. The system allows Chase to run the same workflow process used on scanned, paper-based documents without additional programming or workflow.

Ascent's ability to process XML streams enables Chase to service loans for other financial institutions. "When Chase purchases loan portfolios from other companies," says Duff, "data is sent to us as electronic document images embedded within an XML stream. With Ascent, Chase can quickly auto-import these images into our system, eliminating the need for the manual inputting of data and, in turn, reducing the chance for errors."

By applying consistent indexing and validation processes to all data, as well as using a single user interface for all media, the system enables Chase to quickly and easily assign loan numbers to mortgages from any source.

The new polling features enable Chase to automatically accept input from other applications. "We are very excited about the new polling modules," Duff says. "Because we do indexing before scanning using barcode prep sheets, users don't have to interact with the validation queue. With the new auto poll feature in the validation queue, it now automatically processes all batches without manual intervention. Previously, this is something we had written as an interface to do ourselves."

Chase also has begun to take advantage of the software's ability to integrate simultaneously with more than one document or content management system. Each sends images and index data in native formats and to the appropriate fields of the chosen data repository.

"Prior to the implementation, it was necessary for Chase to write a custom validation module to compare captured data with our existing database. This took a considerable amount of time and added to the overall processing of loan documents," Duff says. "Since a database validation module is embedded in Ascent Capture, it took Chase only minutes to get the system up and running, and we no longer require custom programming to maintain the validation process."

Because of the successful implementation at its Louisiana office, Chase has implemented a duplicate system at its office in Columbus, OH. The Ohio location also has implemented Kofax VRS image perfecting technology with Bell & Howell (bellhowell.com) scanners. The installation has enabled staff to effectively manage documents that have special processing needs such as handwritten data, documents with pictures or forms printed on colored paper.

"VRS enables our staff in Columbus to significantly improve the image quality of these special documents, sometimes even better than the original," Duff says.

"The cost improvements are significant. Chase has lowered the company's software and hardware expenses and reduced scanning charges from 10 cents to 6 cents per page," Duff adds. "The company also reduced its staffing requirements due to the system's ease of use." Staff can now prep documents for scanning more quickly and spend less time on manual indexing. As a result, Chase has been able to scan 40% more documents using the same equipment, according to Duff.

At Union Planters Bank, the issue was managing the flow of information in the customer contact center. The Customer Interaction Center (CIC) from Interactive Intelligence (inter-intelli.com) will allow the bank to route and manage customer interactions by phone, e-mail, fax or the Web. The new telephone contact management system will include networked servers so resources can be shared across different sites, and customers can be routed to the company's various call centers around the country to reduce wait time and receive consistent information.

The ability to access critical knowledge across the enterprise was a key concern at the Bank of Montreal. It uses BMC Software'sdatabase management tools to improve data availability. The database management solutions also have helped the bank reduce the time and complexity of data recovery, maximize productivity, manage complex DB2 environments, and monitor and tune DB2.

The National Bank of Dubai chose BMC's enterprise software to support continued growth and introduce new services to its customers. The implementation involves BMC's PATROL for management of systems, databases and applications; CONTROL-M for automation of job scheduling; and CONTROL-D for output management.

"The challenge for today's business is to deliver continual improvement in terms of service to the customer," says David Watt, head of Information Systems & Technology for National Bank of Dubai. "As services depend to an ever-increasing extent on technology, it is critical that this is reliable."

As customers extend their banking and financial services to the Web, TD Waterhouse is using iPhraseto provide access to market data as well as thousands of pages of content on the TD Waterhouse Web site, including mutual funds and retirement planning, as well as personal finance topics such as banking, taxes and mortgages.

"As a customer-centric business, we want to provide customers with self-help tools that make it easy for them to do business with us--whether they do so on the Web, on the phone or in person," says Bob Cantelmo, senior VP of technology for TD Waterhouse Group. "iPhrase helps us fulfill this objective with a flexible platform that meets our complex needs, and with it, we were up and running in a few days, and fully deployed in just six weeks."

Kim Ann Zimmermann is a free-lance w

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