UJB Financial Service Corp. will revamp its commercial loan processing department in an effort to improve productivity.

The Ridgefield Park, N.J.-based service company, a unit of UJB Financial Corp. bank holding company in Princeton, will install a new automated loan processing system in hopes of relieving its lending officers of some of their administrative burden. The new system, called Power 1, is provided by Banca Enterprise, a Dallas-based software and integration services firm that was acquired last year by Andersen Consulting.

Currently, UJB commercial loans are handled manually, a paperwork-intensive process that can eat up much of the loan officer's time. By automating much of the process, the bank expects to free managers for more sales and marketing.

"The bank is looking for significant improvement in both process management and integration management," said John Smith, UJB's senior vice president for corporate systems. "Today, more than ever, we see the need to utilize the type of tools Banca provides to support our commercial banking effort."

Without an automated system, most commercial lending officials may spend as much as 80% of their time handling administrative tasks, rather than selling and marketing, according to John Cook, BancA's chief executive officer. He said that banks using this system were able to achieve a 30% gain in productivity.

"The intent is to drive the lenders' time to marketing by reallocating where the work is," Mr. Cook said.

The Power 1 software handles the commercial lending process from credit application through packaging, approval, closing, and documentation preparation, monitoring the account throughout. The system tracks credit requests and provides information online. UJB can also establish checklists for its varying loans and collateral, to make sure the deal complies with official policies and procedures.

UJB has also installed a desktop component, developed by an alliance of vendors, to tie into the mainframe software. The desktop piece, called Solutions for Commercial Bankers, was developed jointly by BancA, Andersen, Microresources Inc., Microsoft, and Crowe Chizek & Co., and provides groupwarestyle accessibility to data, according to Mr. Cook.

The mainframe-based software is already employed by NationsBank Corp., Keycorp, Banc One Corp., and PNC Bank Corp. Another undisclosed bank site is currently testing a version of this software on a client-server platform, Mr. Cook said.

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