Bryan Lynch of Advantage Systems on Choosing, Implementing Software
By MBA Insights Staff
October 29, 2018
Brian D. Lynch is founder and president of Irvine, Calif. -based Advantage Systems, a provider of accounting and contract management tools for the mortgage banking and real estate industries. He is responsible for managing the company's day-to-day operations and guiding the company's strategic direction.
Lynch has more than 30 years of experience in the accounting industry. Prior to founding Advantage Systems, he worked as an auditor for Arthur Young & Co., an international public accounting firm, and as a senior internal auditor with SmithKline Beckman, a multi-national pharmaceutical firm. After joining a consulting firm that provides computer software and hardware solutions, Lynch became involved with the CONTRACK software package to handle project management and accounting needs of real estate developers. Lynch formed Advantage Systems in 1986 to market CONTRACK. It was tailored in 1991 to meet the loan-level accounting needs of the mortgage banking industry, thus creating Accounting for Mortgage Bankers.
MBA INSIGHTS: What does a lender need to know when evaluating software?
BRYAN LYNCH, ADVANTAGE SYSTEMS: Lenders need to be aware of the difference between software that is commonly promoted by providers of core systems, which can be used across multiple industries, and software designed for a specific industry. The former is usually very widely used because it is generic enough to work across many different and sometimes unrelated industries. Users can customize this type of software by bolting on lots of additional tools. It is important to realize there is considerable time and expense involved with the customization process.
The latter type of software is designed specifically for a particular industry such as the mortgage industry. Usually the customization process is minimal when acquiring this type of software because it already has the capabilities required by most users. With a much simpler requirement for customization the software can often be deployed much faster than more generic software and is better able to achieve a faster ROI.
Lenders selecting software should push their potential software vendors to provide a cost estimate that includes the time and expense of the customization process. Frequently this is left out of an estimate and can be a shock to many lenders.
INSIGHTS: How can lenders simplify and speed up the implementation process?
LYNCH: Implementations are a fact of life that most people in the mortgage industry regard as a necessary evil. They may not be fun but they don't have to be as drawn out or as painful as many people think. First, when an implementation is planned it is essential that the project have plenty of C-level support. A common mistake many people within our industry make is to delegate the leadership of the implementation process to mid-level managers who may not have the full authority to make the decisions that can mean the difference between a timely implementation and one that drags on for months.
Another thing that speeds up an implementation is finding a qualified volunteer to lead the effort who has the proper time to dedicate to the project. Often people are drafted into leading an implementation and they are still required to complete their full workload plus the implementation. In these cases the implementation becomes the person's low priority task, which drags things out even more.
INSIGHTS: What key capabilities can enable a regional lender to more aggressively grab market share?
LYNCH: When a mortgage originator wants to grab market share, they will be more successful if they have a way to analyze their data and more accurately determine what branches and people within those branches are generating most of their revenue. Without access to the necessary data, companies are forced to guess at solutions.
Currently, the technology available to mortgage originators can easily illustrate the profitability of each loan officer and branch. This enables originators to more accurately figure out where to devote more resources in order to boost profits.
INSIGHTS: How important is a vendor's user community and what role can they play when trying to get more value from a technology solution?
LYNCH: A vendor's user community potentially has a lot to offer small to mid-sized lenders who may have limited resources. One of the most prominent benefits for vendors' customers is a user conference, which provides a combination of education, training, networking opportunities and chances to provide feedback directly to the vendor.
Another benefit to having a user community is being able to interact with other users to develop a list of best practices. It is a rare case when a lender has a unique challenge never before faced by another user and being able to get advice from others can simplify complicated tasks. Once best practices have been established, staff using the technology have more insight and can plan their activities more strategically and cost-effectively.
The bottom line is lenders who actively participate in the community are more likely to get more from their investment.
(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA Insights welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at email@example.com; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)