Since making its first loan in 1970, the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MassHousing) (Boston) has provided more than $7.8 billion to finance more than 60,000 apartments and 50,000 home mortgages.
A self-supporting, independent public authority charged with increasing affordable rental and homeownership housing in the state, MassHousing is funded through tax-exempt and non-tax exempt bonds. S&P and Moody’s have both given these bonds “top tier” ratings for solid, professional operations, consistent financial performance, and aggressive portfolio management. In 2003, the National Council of State Housing Agencies recognized MassHousing with three program excellence awards. The New England Business and Technology Association presented MassHousing with a Leadership Award in October 2003.
MassHousing has three primary lines of business. It offers separate programs to provide low-cost loans to developers of rental properties and buyers of single-family homes that meet certain criteria. In the fiscal year 2003, MassHousing loaned a total of $427 million. MassHousing also provides rental management services, including the administration of a contract with HUD to oversee Section 8 quality requirements.
Several factors prompted MassHousing to consider an ECM (enterprise content management) solution. Like any mortgage operation, MassHousing collects massive amounts of paper as part of the loan application process. In addition, the specialized requirements demand additional documentation. For example, developers of rental properties must guarantee that a certain percentage of units will be dedicated to low-or moderate-income properties. Universal business processes such as HR and Accounting all contribute to volumes of paper documents.
MassHousing sought a solution that would provide access to its distributed workforce balanced with security features, including the ability to track and audit documents and usage. MassHousing recognized the importance of automating processes and leveraging its investment in an ECM system, to maintain excellent service to customers in a competitive mortgage environment. MassHousing’s compliance and regulatory needs such as ensuring that HUD’s performance-based model for administering the Section 8 contracts was met were also influencers in selecting ECM from OnBase.
To meet these needs, MassHousing implemented OnBase ECM software from Hyland Software, Inc. in 2000. Though MassHousing always had an enterprise vision, the modular architecture of OnBase allowed the organization to add users and functionality as needs evolved gradually. Today, practically every employee at MassHousing uses OnBase, whether through one of the primary lines of business or internal departments such as HR, Accounting or IT.
There are 350 identified document types, which originate as E-Forms, scanned documents, COLD/ERM documents, and even third-party application documents. Approximately 20 automated Workflows and 10 custom queries based on document type or keyword have been created.
MassHousing scans all paper documents at a central location using document scanners from Kodak and Böwe Bell & Howell and the OnBase Document Imaging module. Using Ascent Capture software from Kofax Image Products, Inc., much of the indexing information is captured automatically using barcodes. The OnBase Document Import Processor (DIP) is used to transfer 1098 forms, electronic tax files and inspection reports directly into the OnBase repository. E-mails and their attachments can be saved to the OnBase repository via the Outlook Integration module.
In addition to creating a document repository that can be accessed via a thick or thin client, OnBase also helps MassHousing meet reporting and auditing needs. Using the CD Authoring module, the lender can automatically create monthly reports on CD to send to HUD. The EDM Services Module supports document history, tracking, and check-in/ check-out functionality.
MassHousing recently began using the OnBase Document Retention module, which destroys documents according to time-based or event-based business rules. This solution can conserve storage resources and avoid legal liability without less labor and fewer errors than manual processes. MassHousing’s first application for the Document Retention module is in its HR Department where it is used to eliminate resumes that have been inactive for a year.
Increased efficiency and productivity realized by using OnBase reduced overall costs at MassHousing while improving customer service and the ability to track and report on critical business data. However, according to Leo Saidnawey, IT manager at MassHousing, a Workflow designed to help meet the IBPS (incentive-based performance standards) of an agreement with HUD to administer Section 8 contract administration has had the most significant payback.
Under the terms of the agreement, MassHousing is only paid if services are within certain quality parameters. To ensure compliance with the IBPS, several automated Workflows integrating document management were developed. The automated Workflows ensure that when a compliance event takes place, the right people are notified at right time and their actions are recorded and followed through to completion. This has reduced the dependence on MassHousing staff to perform administrative work such as tracking and reporting and allows MassHousing to deliver more services with existing resources.
Currently, this system tracks data for Life-Threatening and Non-Life-Threatening events. Saidnawey stated,
“The use of OnBase ECM in MassHousing’s performance as a Contract Administrator for the Section 8 Contracts has reduced the annual review time needed by HUD to ensure compliance with the program. The accessibility and availability of records and documents using OnBase ECM have reduced the review period from weeks to days.” – Leo Saidnawey, IT manager at MassHousing
MassHousing has realized a number of benefits resulting from the OnBase implementation, including:
- Reduced costs for file storage, printing, and copying
- Universally availability of files to a distributed workforce based on security privileges
- Improved auditing and reporting capabilities, making it easier to collect performance-based fees
- Reduced cycle times for various business processes
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