Annual Report 2017

Home finance Transparent products

New software from home finance provider Schwäbisch Hall is speeding up the processing of finance applications. The software passed its first practical test with flying colors thanks to the use of agile project management from the development stage onward.

Anyone who has tried to calculate the cost of a mortgage will know that comparing the monthly payments of principal and interest over different repayment periods is a slow process, with the advisor having to make complex adjustments to the parameters. Schwäbisch Hall, the cooperative home finance provider, has recently developed a software application called ‘Kreditberatung//Neu’ (loan advice//new) that enables advisors to conveniently adjust the term of the mortgage using a slider bar on the touchscreen of their laptop. Customers can therefore see for themselves on the monitor how the length of the term will affect the monthly payments and total costs. “The software makes the task easier and increases product transparency for customers,” explains Bianca Treuter, who is responsible for project communications.

In July 2016, a small interdisciplinary team of home finance and IT experts from Schwäbisch Hall began to develop the new software for field staff. The first employees have already begun using the latest pilot version of the program and are enjoying its many advantages. When meeting customers, for example, they can click to see which documents are still required for a finance application and then easily add the missing ones to the system. This is because the salespeople’s smartphones have a digital document management app that is compatible with the software. Using the app, they can take photos of documents such as proof of income and send them straight to headquarters. Customers can also provide their signature electronically directly on the touchscreen. “This ensures that data passes seamlessly from one medium to the next,” emphasizes Mike Dörr, project manager. “Field sales employees can process applications much more quickly and easily than before.”

To ensure the software works optimally on a day-to-day basis, the development team consulted the people who would be using the software as part of an agile project management approach. In fixed-length project phases known as sprints, the team developed the individual modules to a stage at which the field salespeople could test the software and provide feedback. “This is one of the first agile projects that we have developed for and with the field sales team,” says Marcus Krieg, overall project manager at Schwäbisch Hall. And it is clearly a success: The list of volunteers taking part in the pilot is growing all the time and will have grown to around 500 users by May 2018. At the end of the year, the software should be ready for use by all of Schwäbisch Hall’s 3,800 field staff when processing home finance applications.