to deploy new systems to improve its commercial loan operation. By now, the $766 million asset bank has achieved nearly everything it hoped for. But as executive vice president Bob Leet said, "It hasn't been without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears along the way." Mechanics' effort to automate the credit analysis process, one of the steps taken to allow loan officers to spend more time with customers and prospects, was featured in a March 1994 issue of Management Strategies. A year and a half later, Mr. Leet said, Mechanics has successfully tied together software packages from four vendors. The process took longer than expected because the applications were, as Mr. Lee put it, "significantly not open systems." "I naively thought it was probably going to take a year, or a year and a half," he said. Mechanics found that it needed to get support staff from the four vendors to talk to each in order to get their systems to communicate. "One of the things that I've learned is most software providers are willing to do that," said Mr. Leet, adding that, "it's pretty much been our responsibility to get them together and get them to the point where they will start to carry on dialogues." Mechanics' core operating system is from Information Technologies Inc., Lincoln, Neb.; the pricing and profitability analysis portion was supplied by Alacrity Financial Services Inc., Newport Beach, Calif.; the credit analysis piece came from Financial Proformas Inc. Walnut Creek, Calif.; and the loan processing and legal documentation software was purchased from Transcore Services, Phoenix. "We've been able to marry about three or four different components of loan processing and loan documentation into one system that's all deliverable at the loan officer's workstation," said Mr. Leet. Mechanics expects even more benefits when it finishes getting Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system to all of its loan officers. The bank is also continuing to work with Financial Proformas to further automate the credit analysis process. (The vendor, purchased last month by Moody's Investors Service, will now be called FPI.) "I've become sold on the whole process," said Mr. Leet. "The thing that bankers need to do is think about what it is they want to be able to develop, and then go to the effort to try and find the vendors who can help them do it."
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