About the Client

Keystone Asset Management manages the foreclosure, maintenance, and subsequent sale of homes.  During the Great Recession they were overwhelmed with the sheer number of foreclosed properties they were being asked to manage, so they moved rapidly to improve their systems and gracefully handle the traffic.

Phase I: asset management workflow system

Keystone has a nationwide network of real estate agents and contractors that service the properties under their care.  Keystone reimburses expenses differently according to many factors, including the bank owning the property, the type of work done on the property, the property’s value, and the expense amount. Keystone needed to control this process so that they didn’t front money for services that the bank owning the property wouldn’t reimburse.

 

Our team developed a new system and workflow that enforces a uniform process around:

 

  • Task assignment and management for internal employees
  • Administration of separate parameters for each bank
  • Invoice submission for external real estate agents and contractors
  • Payment of invoices

 

We built the system using Microsoft technologies (ASP .NET, C#, SQL Server, and Visual Basic) and integrated it with Solomon, Keystone’s ERP system.

 

The system provided Keystone with many benefits including:

 

  • Consistent management of properties across internal employees
  • Money saved by not paying for services their clients wouldn’t cover
  • Saving their clients money by not overpaying for services
  • Increased efficiency by automatically approving valid expense reimbursements rather than requiring manual review

Phase II: eliminating paper check request

Keystone reimburses contractor and vendor invoices by sending out checks.  Keystone originally used a paper check request template to gain approval from accounting; like most paper-based processes, it was prone to delays and lost requests.

We worked with Keystone to improve and automate the check request process, implementing the following features:

 

  • Electronic approval queue:  check requests go through multiple stages of approval since every manager has different maximum approval limits.
  • Document creation: programmatically generate a PDF document for the check request based on property and invoice information.
  • Reporting: created a Windows service to dynamically generate daily/weekly/monthly reports for managers based on the approval queue.
  • Accounting: integrated results of check requests and approvals into the Solomon financial system and the Dynamics database.
  • Logging: created an audit trail on each property for every generated check request,  manager approval, and supervisor denial.

 

The project provided Keystone with several benefits:

  • Money saved by moving from a paper-based process to a completely electronic process.
  • Increased efficiency by allowing managers (or delegates) to remotely approve checks rather than waiting on the accounting department.
  • Customer service resources saved by having a complete digital history of checks per property readily available when dealing with vendors.
  • Time saved during the annual audit process by implementing a report displaying check request statistics for the year.

This is another example of a boring, back-room process that wouldn’t seem to have much of an impact on a customer’s interaction with Keystone.  In Keystone’s business, the realtors, contractors, and other vendors who help service distressed properties are just as important as the banks that pay for Keystone’s services.  Getting checks to those vendors quickly and efficiently helps Keystone provide a better experience to everyone.