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MITEM Case Study - Norwest Mortgage

A wholly owned subsidiary of Norwest Corporation, Norwest Mortgage, Inc. (NMI) is America's largest mortgage originator and servicer with a portfolio in excess of $100 billion. Norwest has long recognized the value of customer service and continues to set the standard for growth and customer excellence. Business operations span multiple loan origination & servicing call centres across the USA. NMI are the single largest subscriber to ALLTEL Information Services, the nations largest mortgage service bureau. The Mortgage Service Package (MSP) from ALLTEL services several hundred mortgage organizations and enjoys a 45% market share in the industry.

Business Problem

Norwest's business model was to substantially grow their mortgage portfolio by acquiring competitive operations at a rapid pace and quickly consolidating them into NMI operations. Because many of the competitive operations used the same mortgage service bureau as Norwest, customers of different mortgage servicing organizations had been assigned the same loan number. Norwest needed a solution which could resolve duplicate loan numbers so they could provide complete customer service support to any customer from any call centre. In addition, they wanted to impose consistent practices for all 140 CSRs across the 7 regional service centres whilst substantially improving the quality and efficiency of their customer service operations.

Project Goals

  • Reduce call handling time (AHT) by 25%
  • Reduce call-back time
  • Reduce CSR errors
  • Support ANY mortgage from ANY centre
  • Reduce system training time
  • Consistent business practices across centres
  • Increase overall quality of customer service
  • Rapid implementation

System Integrator

To accomplish these objectives, Norwest chose CAP Gemini America, a leading international systems integrator, to define and deliver the technology solution. "NMI's business requirements predicted the technology path" said Mr. Bob Hardister, Senior Project Manager, CAP Gemini. "We assembled a team to research technologies that would meet their specific needs." Because of cost restraints and a tight schedule, Norwest decided to keep the existing mainframe functionality and centralized architecture while implementing a new Windows based front-end to optimize the CSRs workflow process. "The new system would effectively wrap around the service bureau's existing mainframe system" said Hardister. The technology needed to meet the following requirements:

Non-invasive interface to the mainframe. Direct data access, programmatic access or modification of ALLTEL's MSP application was not an option.
An application architecture which could support the network requirements for response time and mainframe connectivity across all the servicing call centres.
Overall reliability and availability of the solution on par with the mainframe environment.
Robust front-end and middleware tools to enable high performance many-to- many mapping between host transactions and GUI windows.
Support for multiple asynchronous and parallel transactions to the host application.
The use of a server RDBMS for textual descriptions of hard-to-read mainframe codes and support for additional management reporting requirements.
Figure 1
Figure 1 - Main anchor screen
Figure 2
Figure 2 - Call logging

"An additional requirement was the ability to migrate away from ALLTEL's service bureau at a later date, without having to throw away and redevelop the GUI" said Hardister. After evaluating over 25 different software technologies including Early Cloud & Co.'s MDp, Sybase's Open CICS, Peer-Logic's PIPES, Attachmate's Tools for PowerBuilder, DCA's Quick App, Wall Data's Rumba Tools, and Sterling Software's Flashpoint, Norwest selected MITEM Corporation's MitemView middleware to communicate data from the mainframe to the PowerBuilder GUI. NMI's anchor screen (Figure 1) is comprised of data from 16 CICS transactions from 4 simultaneous MitemView sessions with the MSP host application. "Our Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) now retrieve the entire customer profile in 8 seconds or less with one mouse click . . . this has had a tremendous impact on reducing the average call time and CSR training," said Todd Bjorklund. "We have effectively eliminated the 'screen surfing' between dozens of 3270 mainframe screens." Because of MitemView's asynchronous, non-blocking interface with PowerBuilder, the call workflow is not impeded whilst waiting for all of the information to be returned to the desktop. The CSR is able to view and modify information in real time as it is retrieved from the host application while having an effective dialog with the customer. In addition, the post call logging process is automatically completed for the CSR (Figure 2) based on the last call profile.


It took just 5 months to define the Customer Service business design processes, design the application architecture, and design the first version of the application. Five months later, the first version was released as a pilot in one service centre. The second version, released in December 1995, included substantially increased functionality and a server database to support additional management reporting. The final version, released in April 1996, added yet more functionality to the client application.


The new environment enables NMI to enjoy continued portfolio growth, with increased process efficiencies, and assured mortgage servicing quality. The business work flow is now embedded into the system, resulting in reduced training time and increased operator accuracy. The results of the first phase have increased CSR productivity by over 25%, eliminating 1 minute from the average call handling time (AHT).

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