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MALVERN, Pa. – Talk about traction. In its fifth year, Akcelerant Software has about 100 credit unions using its CollectAnywhere collections management system, a number it says is now growing by five to eight customers a month. A browser-based system on the front end, the CollectAnywhere software uses XML-based integration inside to automate workflows and provide easily customizable queuing. The company says its clients typically increase collections productivity by 15% to 25% and employ better risk management by, for instance, identifying high-risk accounts that should be collected earlier. Customers range in size from $30 million or so to California’s $5.6 billion The Golden 1. In between those numbers is $1.5 billion First Tech Credit Union in Beaverton, Ore., a CollectAnywhere user since last November and the first Summit Information Systems core client to go live with it, says Sandi Papenfuhs, First Tech’s manager of account management. She cites the software’s reporting functions and its usability. “I’m a technical idiot,” she says with a laugh. “If I can turn a computer on, I’m lucky, but I’ve been able to educate myself to run this system myself and get my collectors up and running, too. And our need to involve IT has gone way down. “It’s also very easy to write a report, and what I like is that we decide what to report on, not Akcelerant,” Papenfuhs adds. That might include the ability to easily combine a search for share accounts that are $1,000 negative, for example, by more than 20 days, and setting the system to alert the appropriate collector if any of those factors change. The platform’s speed and flexibility, rather than being confined to pre-set criteria, also helps avoid alienating members during the sensitive collections process, points out another client, Keith Wilson, assistant vice president of account recovery at $864 million FORUM Credit Union in Indianapolis. “Now we’re working in real time,” Wilson says. “Before, our collectors would be making calls off information that was one or two days old, and sometimes would be calling members who had sent in payments in the past day or two. That’s not very customer friendly.” Wilson says he also has been able to get a better look at how his operation is doing as a unit and as individuals. “I know we’re getting the bang for our buck when I can see our `promises to pay’ increase each month. Our collectors can make more calls, which means they can collect more dollars,” he says. Another $1.5 billion CU, Utah’s Mountain America, is in the final stages of testing CollectAnywhere, and its collections manager, Roger Griffiths, says he can see the potential benefits. “Our delinquency rates already are really low, fortunately, and my anticipation is that this will increase our collectors’ ability to work efficiently and reduce my need to hire in the future,” says Griffiths, whose department has six collectors and three support staffers. “I can see every action entry now, and watch productivity on an hour-by-hour basis if I want, whereas on our old collections software from Symitar, I’d have to call IT for a lot of this,” he says. “Now I can do it on my desktop.” Griffiths says Mountain America bought the software in December and did encounter some integration issues with the CollectAnywhere software and the credit union’s Citrix networking gear. “Some of our problems have just been timing and some have been that Akcelerant is growing so fast. They’ve had to schedule the time for us,” he says. Papenfuhs at First Tech says she, too, has had to call the company and within a day or two, for instance, got the new ability to see a joint signer’s account along with the primary loan holder in the same query, with a click on a hyperlink. “I’m pretty sure I stretched them a bit with that one, but that’s the kind of thinking they have there, to make it happen with us,” she says. “The credit union market is very important to us,” says Eric Snyder, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Malvern-based Akcelerant Software (www.software.akcelerant.com.) “We also have clients on more than a dozen different core processing platforms, so that doesn’t matter to us,” Snyder says, “and the browser-based, XML-based application allows easy integration of services such as skip tracing, credit reporting and payment by phone. “The queue structure also allows for a more effective workflow and the improved access to member information often takes our customers’ agents from having to look at six screens down to just one screen.” Snyder declined to say how much a typical installation of CollectAnywhere costs, but adds, “I can tell you that we guarantee an ROI of 12 months or less, due to the efficiencies we create and to the increasing effectiveness of collector performance.” There’s no shortage of collections software choices out there, says Papenfuhs at First Tech, “and we looked at a lot of them. We knew we didn’t need a standalone collection shop, and others politely told us that we couldn’t afford them.” Meanwhile, she says, CollectAnywhere “was more expensive than others we looked at, but we’ve already got our ROI on it. And we knew exactly what we needed and what we wanted, and this turned out to be it.” -

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