Hilltop provides technology and data consulting services to all types and sizes of companies. We have four basic consulting service areas that include the following:
- aligning a client’s strategy with its deployed technology while considering new technologies (blockchain, eNotes, MERS, MISMO data standards, workflow, machine learning/Big Data, etc.),
- identifying and implementing the right technology solutions for our client’s business (compliance, accounting, lending, modeling, loan portfolio analytics, fraud, secondary marketing, loan servicing, other “add on” applications, etc.),
- integrating business processes, applications and data (ensuring that the right integration resources and tools are being used) and testing the results,
- helping with assessing and mitigating IT and data risks with comprehensive IT and Data audit procedures that meet all COBIT standards.
IT Assessment & Strategy
Hilltop understands the importance of aligning business needs and requirements with the appropriate information technology tools and applications to gain competitive advantage or better fulfill critical missions. That’s why each IT engagement begins with a thorough assessment of your company’s business needs, current technology solutions and personnel. Our assessment is followed by the development of a customized strategic plan incorporating recommendations for the changes needed in order to optimize IT investment and effectiveness.
Once an IT strategic plan is finalized, our Tech and IT audit teams help execute the strategy including the identification of critical business requirements, selection of technology products and services that may meet such requirements, vendor RFP process and selection and implementation of the application. Our project management resources will be involved to ensure that all aspects of the project are being managed and executed appropriately. And because we recognize the importance of realizing an appropriate return on an IT investment, our team will use PerforMetrics© to help measure the operating and financial metrics of your business both before and after the implementation to assure your company is getting the results it expects.
Identifying and Implementing the Right Technology Solutions for our Client’s Business
Our clients face constantly changing new technologies while trying to identify the business requirements of today and the future. Aligning the right technology solution with such needs and ensuring measurable benefits is a daunting task. Clients realize that to ensure a solid return on their IT investments, they need to ensure that the IT application will meet their business need and be flexible enough to be able to make changes as their marketplace changes.
Hilltop understands the importance of aligning the business needs and technologies. We combine our deep knowledge of technology with extensive business expertise in lending, loan servicing, capital markets, real estate and government. Our business and technology integrated teams ensure that we consider all aspects of what the new technology meets the client’s needs and how it will do so. In the lending, secondary loan sales, loan servicing, securitization and compliance areas, Hilltop has deep knowledge and experience with the various technology offerings in the market, who the vendors are and know what specialized applications are available (master servicing, default/foreclosure systems, portfolio or securities management systems, etc.).
A critical component of ensuring that the technology meets the business need is for our client to have an effective IT governance roadmap to help make each new application fit with the previous/existing technology. We help clients develop the necessary IT governance, organizational accountability and administrative structure to ensure effective technology selection and implementation process for all new technology acquired.
As noted above, we assist our clients with moving through the roadmap – strategy, business need, requirements, market offerings, vendor selection, implementation, testing and “go-live”.
Data Analysis & Strategy
Hilltop is focused on the data technology and controls area as the finance services market is heavily dependent upon data but has yet to truly achieve a customer centric database (with all relationships with the customer clearly identified and integrated). Hilltop’s focus in this area has caused the Company to match our consultants with industry knowledge and deep controls experience with consultants in the most advanced and largest data technology firms. Our Hilltop and teaming partner resources can help our clients assess and formulate an effective data management and security solution. We work with our client organizations to create and implement strategies and technologies for sourcing, cleansing, organizing, distributing and managing data. Our services in this area include:
- Data strategy – conducting current state assessments of the data environment including governance, architecture, quality, security, database/cloud usage to creating a strategy and roadmap to enhance the environment and close gaps to meet business objectives,
- Data Architecture – defining conceptual, logical and physical representations of our client’s data structures, databases and metadata
- Data Governance – establishing the processes and controls for adding, changing and deleting data, changing data architecture, setting data definitions, etc.,
- Data Sourcing – identifying the sources of data and establishing processes for defining data definitions, moving data and maintaining or improving data quality,
- Master Data Management – the governance, technologies and processes for creating, consolidating, enriching and distributing master data (source of truth reference data) to applications and users.
Each of the above data strategy and policy components help our clients to be able to use their data safely, more effectively to better serve customers (identifying and delivering customers’ needs) and making the client’s business more efficient with lower technology costs. As part of the data technology services, Hilltop has expanded its’ experience with MERs and the common platform for data within the mortgage industry (MISMO).
Business Data Management & Reporting
Data is powerful to the management team that knows how to use it. However, the data must be accurate, complete, defined/used properly and meaningful to its users. Companies struggle with cost effective solutions for data management and reporting. Hilltop’s Data consultants designed, implemented data management solutions that are also cost-effective solutions for a wide range of financial services and other clients. Data is only important or critical to maintain to the extent that business users obtain benefit from using and having access to such data. Accordingly, Hilltop approaches the data technology consulting from the business perspective to determine what data is really important. Accordingly, our structured data analysis methodology includes, but is not limited to, the following steps:
- understand sources and uses of data,
- assess the quality of the data (from the users’ perspective and through some testing),
- understand the flow of data – where and how it’s used in the business process,
- identify what external and management reports are really critical to the business and what data is needed to populate such reports,
- identify the key business drivers and financial/operational risks that management needs reporting upon (this is to ensure that the reports identified above are complete in meeting Management’s needs),
- identify who “owns” the data that is needed (who in the Company is accountable for the quality (does it meet Management’s need), completeness and accuracy of this data),
- identify gaps in data availability, quality, data process inefficiencies, “data holes” (data that is desired but not available), ownership/accountability, organization of data management and data controls.
Hilltop has developed a simple process to identify the above “gaps” in data by asking the following questions:
- Does Management have reports and data that identify the critical business indicators?
- Customer satisfaction
- Do reports contain “exception based” reporting content? Information reported based on the data meeting certain criteria.
- Is your reporting timely enough?
- Is your reporting dependable or are there many explanations for anomalies or errors?
- Does the Client have too many “data checkers” i.e. data reconciliation resources?
- Do managers use the reports generated? Do they trust the reports?
- Is the time to create the management reports significant? Is it a good use of the creator’s time?
- Is “decision engine” technology used to support/supply the reporting?
If the answers to any of these questions are No or Not Likely – there are opportunities to enhance your data management and overall reporting.
Our methodology yields results and allows our clients to take action that results in the following:
- data that meets all of Management’s needs,
- higher quality of data,
- more cost-effective management and use of data,
- better processing/movement/consistent use of data,
- providing the Client with the ability to benchmark data quality,
- implementing analytics to measure, improve and control the use of data, as well as, improve data controls,
- close the “gaps” in the Client’s effective use of data.