As the second part of our multi-part series on essential best practices for fast and efficient loan origination system implementation, this week’s blog post will focus on project management. If you missed the first part regarding proper team structure, you can check it out here.
Organization and documentation is key for everyone involved having a clear understanding of the timeline and defined expectations. Your provider should have a very regimented and repeatable project management methodology as a starting point. From the time that your contract is signed, you should expect most or all of the following major milestones to occur:
- Welcome call
- Project kickoff meeting
- Client administrator training
- Documents including complete onboarding forms
- LOS-core system installation
- Installation of all interfaces/connectors
- Connectivity established
- Client - user acceptance testing (UAT)
- Client - UAT of connectors/interfaces
- Client – end-to-end – UAT of all LOS components
- LOS launch – go live - move to production
- Client move to support
The welcome call is something that your provider should try to initiate immediately after the contract is signed. During this call, you and your provider should review deliverables, talk about the overall project in general terms and plan the project kickoff meeting with your larger team. The kickoff will include working on the project charter and project plan cooperatively with your team as well as defining mutual expectations.
Also, during the kickoff call, the entire team should be made aware of the roles and responsibilities that will be needed for the project to be successful. This also includes discussing what a successful project looks like, how to mitigate risk and how to manage change control. At a high level, the graphic below shows all of the key interactions during the project.
The roles outlined above are color coded to indicate where lines of communication are likely to occur. For example, the delivery manager should mostly work with your financial institution’s executive sponsor and project manager. The technical specialists mostly work with the interface and networking subject matter experts.
Your provider’s implementation team should be able to pull from additional resources within its organization for any irregularities that arise. On your side, plan on stakeholders being involved as testers or end users. This involvement just illustrates the idea that the overall project will take extensive collaboration and support from both sides. That is why it’s important to have a consistent team on both sides with a dependable escalation path if problems arise that need to be addressed. On the provider side, the team leader should be responsible for helping with support of the entire delivery process, and resolve issues with the delivery manager when needed.
For each client implementation, your provider should generate a detailed project plan using MS Project and/or MS Excel, whichever tool works best with your organization. Initially, the provider should lay out a generic project plan to understand deliverables involved and general timelines for discussion. It should then work with your project manager to set all specific dates and milestones. Since the provider’s project team is usually responsible for setting up the loan origination system and all of its ancillary deliverables, it is the provider’s responsibility to maintain the overall plan.
While there’s much more to be aware of when looking to optimize your implementation process, ensuring the provider’s project management is sound and sets the table for everything else. Please keep an eye out for further installments of this multiple-part series.
As mentioned in the milestones listed earlier, core system integration is obviously an item that easily comes to mind as one of the most important. It is paramount that the process of establishing connectivity between the ACTion system and your core and test servers occurs early in the project life cycle to overcome obstacles that often occur. This includes setting up VPNs, adjusting firewall settings, whitelisting IP addresses, to name a few.
Depending on the core system that you use, your provider should be able to adjust what data is sent via dynamic mapping so that your loans onboard as completely as possible. This critical part of the project can take the most time to complete, so it is important to start as early as possible and to engage the correct internal resources within your organization for mapping and testing as efficiently as possible. For more information on LOS-core system integration best practices, please click the button below to download our complimentary checklist.
Photo Credit: VFS Digital Design