Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Lessons from a System Cutover

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Lessons from a System Cutover

Article excerpt

If you are in the production end of our business, then your loan origination system (LOS) is the most used and the most obviously critical of your computer systems. There are quite a few of these systems in our business universe, and periodically, for a variety of reasons, your company will decide to embrace a new one.

The cutover to a new LOS is one of the most harrowing events a company can experience, and after you go through the process and look back at it, I am quite certain that you will agree with the observations in this column.

I offer them for two reasons. First, to help you prepare and set reasonable expectations if you are embarking on this adventure. And second, to validate, after the event, that what you experienced was not at all unique, but rather the nature of the beast.

* The cutover will not happen on the first date for which it is scheduled. If you are a key person in the cutover and it is January, and the cutover is scheduled for May, do not plan a June vacation--because you will have to cancel it.

* You can't over-test. Testing tends to get short-changed in the inevitable press of competing priorities. It's wiser in the long run to invest resources in testing before the cutover rather than frantic fixing after the cutover, but it seldom seems to happen that way.

Ideally, testing should be performed by systems people, training people and field users. Each group brings a unique and critical perspective. Of the three, field users are the least willing to actually perform the testing transactions and the first to complain that the system was not adequately tested.

* You can't over-train. The "time budget" for training tends to get whittled down as dates slip and systems managers are pressured to meet deadlines. And the trainers are skewered on two dilemmas. The first is that they are required to train system functionality that changes ("mutates" would be a better word) right up to the day of cutover, and frequently after. The second is that the sales staff insists that they don't have time for adequate training, and later insists that they can't use the system because they were not adequately trained. Training is like preventative medicine--annoying at the time, but far preferable to the alternative.

* It's the logistics. Which branches will cut over on what dates? What happens to loans locked in the old system after the closing department has migrated to the new system? …

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