Speed counts in IT and in business

Rapid development and deployment of IT solutions is important, especially when starting out in today\'s mortgage market, and Home of Choice provides a good example, says Frank Eve

With any new company speed to market is key. This is true in all industries but has become ever more important in the mortgage world where competition is fierce and the market changes rapidly. Speedy development of IT systems can be make or break.

Home of Choice entered the market in 2005 as a mortgage network that was looking to recruit over 1000 appointed representatives in its first year. Initially, Home of Choice needed an automated system to handle the recruitment, assessment and registration of advisers. But as well as creating this self-policing master agent database, Home of Choice also required a system that would support and administer the distribution of the mortgages themselves plus other mortgage-related products like term life assurance, term critical illness cover and buildings and contents insurance. Each of these products was to be selected from a panel of providers – something that would, it hoped, provide brokers with more competitive rates.

HoC’s system would also have to track and administer the agents’ commissions – a level of functionality that was always going to demand a high level of integration, not least because of the diverse commission structures it would have to deal with.

Any such system was going to live or die by its intrinsic compatibility with outside applications in the market and would have to grant access from any number of channels. Integration was at the heart of Home of Choice requirements. The system needed to be both flexible and intuitive, and be adept at negotiating online with mortgage sourcing systems like Trigold, Mortgage Brain, Paymentshield and Assureweb.

HoC chose Focus Business Solutions to provide the system to deliver this functionality and it came up with Ignition. Ignition was developed using Focus’ multi-channel advice for mortgages approach. This incorporated the goal:technology XML toolkit for rapid application development and it was underpinned by BEA’s WebLogic Integration 8.1.

The automated recruitment system was completed in April this year, just four weeks after the start of the project. The sales support system was delivered one month later and the commission processing system another month after that. Each system was live within days of being delivered. Each was fully compliant. And each was accessible via the web both for third parties and via a server for head office. Now, HoC claims to have recruited, assessed and registered hundreds of intermediaries using Ignition. Those brokers should now be writing live business for Home of Choice, and the company is paying them automated commissions using the system as described.

This is an example of the rapid development and deployment that is required to get an enterprise up and running in today’s mortgage market. Home of Choice will now have to compete for business in the market but this development has put it at least on a level playing field in a short time, and it would claim it has given it a competitive advantage.