of the final pieces of conversion work related to its acquisition last year of Home Savings of America.
With the assistance of Affiliated Computer Services Inc., the $175 billion-asset thrift is converting loan records from Home Savings' imaging system to one that Affiliated has managed for Washington Mutual since last October.
Dallas-based Affiliated announced last week it was helping Washington Mutual with the conversion, which, when finished, will give employees across the merged institution a single, consistent view of loan information.
"The Home Savings document transfer was larger and more complex than other integrations," said David Imig, senior vice president of Washington Mutual's loan servicing division.
Wamu recognized that Affiliated "had the expertise and technology available to build a viable solution."
Affiliated has the largest installation of computers in the United States running document management software from FileNet Corp. of Costa Mesa, Calif., according to Mr. Imig. He said that makes Affiliated "uniquely positioned" to support Washington Mutual's increased loan volume.
Loans at the Seattle thrift have increased both from its purchase last October of Home Savings' parent, H.F. Ahmanson & Co., and from the acquisitions of Great Western Financial Corp. in 1997 and American Savings Bank in 1996.
The parent, known as Wamu, serviced $111.7 billion in mortgage loans and ranked eighth among U.S. servicers as of Aug. 30, according to National Mortgage News.
The addition of the Home Savings data will "basically double" what Affiliated manages for Washington Mutual, said Michael Sibley, executive vice president of Affiliated's financial services group.
Managing the conversion is not as simple as it might appear at first glance, he said. Document images, which include loan appraisals and borrower credit reports, must be combined and reindexed.
Different methods of classifying documents at previously separate thrifts can also cause headaches, Mr. Sibley said.
For example, one institution might have previously categorized documents according to borrowers' last names, while the other might have used first names. Each document type needs a unique index.
Another challenge comes when images stored on older, less capacious computer disks need to be converted to newer, larger disks, Mr. Sibley said. "Just the sheer amount of computer space required to store all those digital images makes for a challenging conversion. We're talking about terabytes of information."
Estimating the total cost of the conversion work is difficult, because it has been made part of a preexisting outsourcing agreement between the companies, Mr. Sibley said. But he added that it is "in the millions of dollars."