WOODBURY, Minn. — In an effort to offer its 45,555 members a streamlined home-buying experience, Postal Credit Union recently launched an on-demand automated residential mortgage solution.

"Our primary challenges with our existing software at the time were slowness and lack of tools, which were preventing us from attaining our efficiency goals," said Faith Tholkes, Postal CU's director of mortgage sales.

After vetting three mortgage vendors, the $55 million-asset credit union opted for Ellie Mae's Encompass Mortgage Management software. In late August 2013, the contract was signed, and by November Postal had its kick-off meeting launching the new solution to its staff.

While no beta testing was required, the credit union's nine mortgage employees were asked to train by going through the different webinar offerings starting with "Introduction to Encompass." Next they proceeded to the respective training that best fit their role.

"After each training session the employees were encouraged to explore the test environment within Encompass," said Tholkes. "Once all training was completed we cut over to the new system and dually originated and process loans within our old system and Encompass."

This aforementioned approach allowed the credit union to tweak settings based on everyday usage. At the same time, weekly calls with the implementation manager took place, which include an open forum to field employee questions.

"On Dec. 1, we discontinued the use of our old LOS [loan origination system]," said Tholkes. "The staff, as a whole, liked the transition period between both systems, as it gave them a sense of security while adjusting to the new origination platform."

Rollout And Pricing
Jonathan Corr, president and chief operating officer of Ellie Mae, explained that the credit union is using Encompass and its integrated Encompass Compliance Service, a document management system, product and pricing service as well as its WebCenter.

In terms of investment, Postal CU uses the Success-Based Pricing model, so software and service fees are directly equated to the number of loans they close every month.

To date, Postal CU hasn't launched the web application solution, which would most affect membership. Currently the only change members have experienced is the e-signing functionality, which allows the loan processor to send disclosures directly to the member via a secure link, explained Tholkes.

"Along with that, the member is able to upload directly in that same portal any requested documentation needed for the processing of their file, which has created a smoother more seamless process," said Tholkes.

From a technology perspective, she explained that the only IT department support required was the installation of the solution onto each of the department's computers, which took roughly 10 minutes per workstation.

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