Figure 2: Defining Workflows as part of the Systems Analysis Phase
Further steps regarding systems analysis and design include the creation of roles and responsibilities in a matrix, defining alpha and beta test programs, with strong focus on making each step of the systems design and analysis phase focused on both internal and external customers or stakeholders for the system. The use of the Customer Advisory Council is often used specifically for this purpose.
Internal and External Stakeholders
AMR Research (2003) has stated that fully 70% of the cost of implementing any quoting or customer-facing system is in changing the behaviors of existing users. Called change management, this area focuses on getting both users internal and external to the company to change how their jobs are done daily. This is admittedly no small task and requires significant effort.
The focus on change management strategies both during the systems analysis design, programming, testing, quality assurance and launch of both systems is critical. Many quoting, pricing, loan modeling, interest rate calculators and loan tracking systems are launched and achieve only 60% or less use due to the fact that many companies rely on the launch event itself as the pivotal moment for getting their internal and external stakeholders involved and using the system.
The internal stakeholders of sales, product management, service, operations, software engineering, and all other support services need to have a comprehensive understanding of the entire launch process first. In fact these organizations need to be included in the development processes and cross-functional development meetings so the needs not only for their own departments but also to enable them to synchronize their efforts with others are critical. Studies have shown that these internal stakeholders need a minimum of at least 16 weeks of preparation time to enable them to interlock with and maximize the value of the applications' many impacts on their own organizations.
For external stakeholders the need for education is the most critical, and the ability to position and promote both FlashQuote and the related real-time integration and associated applications. The bid for loan prospects and customers loyalty is the need to ensure the applications being launched are more closely aligned with these critical stakeholder groups' needs relative to competitors. To gain external stakeholders' loyalty in other words, the FlashQuote system, related applications, and benefits of real-time integration need to be better aligned with these stakeholders vs. any other manufacturer in this segment. The external stakeholders' percentage of users who actually use the applications is the most telling statistic or measure of performance of any available, as it says what the perceived value of the systems are by users, according to Columbus (2002).
Business and Security Risks
Given the highly confidential nature of the quoting, interest rate, and pricing data delivered to Long Beach Mortgage sales representatives through applications available outside the company through Internet connections, the very center of the company's business model is at risk. The fact that VPNs have proven to be effective security applications, Long Beach Mortgage must constantly improve to keep this critical part of their business secure. It is a significant security risk to have these applications available through a web browser, yet the responsiveness to customers and potential gains outweigh the risks. The bigger risk however is doing nothing at all, and having competitors find an approach that works for serving, gaining loyalty, and eventually maximizing the revenue contribution of the indirect sales channels that both system initiatives are built to serve.
The risks associated with both initiatives center on security, acceptance by partners, resellers, and distributors, and the development of the applications, and the risk of losing key talent in the IT organization before the applications are built. The first risk of acceptance has to be minimized through the use of advisory councils and a strong focus on bringing them a series of applications and broader system they can quickly take ownership of. Accomplishing this starts with a focus on integrating their requirements, thinking through their stated requirements to define what future enhancements are needed given the direction they are going with their channel programs, and most importantly, creating workflows for the managing of special pricing requests. Columbus (2003) states that of all pricing workflows, the highest ROIs are possible when the special pricing request workflows are automated and taken away from being a purely manual process to one where rules engines are used for quickly making decisions.
The business risks of not implementing these two systems have far more significant circumstances vs. The security risks of delivering these applications and their data outside the firewall of the company. These risks can be overcome however through effective use of security and authentication technologies.
The following are the costs associated with both programs:
Broker Front Office Tool (BFOT) and Integration
Net Present Value and Sensitivity Analysis
For the FlashQuote system, assuming a 5% discount rate, a 7-year life of the project, and a cash flow of $1M in the first year, followed by $2M in the second year, $2.5M in the 3rd year, and $3M in the 4th and 5th year, and $4M in the 6th through 10th years yields a NPV of $1,951,375. The present value of expected cash flows is $2,331,375.
For the BFOT applications and integration project, assuming a 5% discount rate and a 7-year life of the project, and the a cash flow of $1M in the first year, followed by $2M in the second year, $2.5M in the 3rd year, and $3M in the 4th year, and $4M in the 5th through 10th years yields a NPV of $1,449,727 and a present value of expected cash flows of $2,409,727.
The following are the significant assumptions behind the revenue figures:
Professional services will be highest on loan capture due to the extensive integration required to complete this application development.
The highest dollar figure for professional services however comes from BFOT real-time integration, which includes the most complex programming and services tasks.
Definition of the internal development costs includes outsourcing the development of internal tools and the acquisition of specific tools for the managing of source code and documentation.
Measures of Performance
Evaluating the performance of FlashQuote and the broader BFOT system and including real-time integration to interest rate, loan, and pricing systems requires the following series of metrics to evaluate total system performance. These areas capture the extent and level of performance possible when integrations are in place, and reflect the stronger levels of ROI possible:
The Perfect Loan - Defines the number of loans correctly filled every day from a manufacturing center.
Days Sales Outstanding - This measures the relative level of customer satisfaction as it shows how quickly customers are paying their invoices, and is a reflection of how effective the combined systems are in meeting their requirements.
Loan application escalation ratio - Defines the number of loans that are escalated from applications to closed loans for top-performing sales representatives.
Gross Margin per Loan - This is a critical link to measure the level of profitability per loan and tells how effective interest rate calculations are working in conjunction with pricing.
Usage rate by loan representative - This is essential to find out if the designed systems and applications are meeting the needs of the internal stakeholders they were specifically developed for.
AMR Research (2003) - Configuration is the Heart of Customer Fulfillment for Complex Product Manufacturers. AMR Research Report. Monday March 31, 2003. Retreived from the Internet on May 3rd, 2006 at http://lwcresearch.com/filesfordownloads/ConfigurationIstheHeartofCustomerFulfillmentforComplexProductManufacturers.pdf
Asera Corporation (2005) - Internet Applications: Case Studies. Presented at the Oracle User's Group Meeting in Redwood City, CA. May 2005 by Anil Nori, Chief Technology Officer of Asera Corporation.
Columbus (2003) - Squeeze the revenue out of your Special Pricing Requests. AMR Research Alert. Tuesday November 11, 2003. Retrieved from the Internet on July 31, 2006: