MMS: Lessons Learned

by Susan Brown

In August CAMEO pulled together the growing MMS tribe in August for discussion, learning and trading ideas. First we asked everyone what they like best about MMS and got some great answers. Clearly, MMS is working to increase volume and efficiency.

  • “We’re more efficient and have been able to double our volume to 100 deals per year.”
    — Agnes Chueng, Working Solutions
  • “It gives us a clear loan process path.”
    — Nathanial Owen, MEDA
  • “We are going to expand our use of MMS to all our SBA microloans to increase speed, efficiency and cost.”
    — Robert Villareal, CDC Small Business Finance
  • “MMS makes it easy to communicate to other loan officers and stay current on each deal.”
    — Devon Johnson, WEV

We also asked what they would like change about the system and got two responses.

First, our MMSers would like to streamline communications with the LiftFund underwriters. To address this, Andrew works closely with each CAMEO member and the MMS underwriters to standardize protocols on how to submit information to the underwriters. At the same time, Andrew submits our requests for changes back to the MMS underwriting team.

Second, everyone would like to be able to integrate their MMS data into their other MIS systems such as Salesforce or Portfol. We let Liftfund know our group is interest in this increased capacity. In the meantime, MMS users can work with Andrew to export their data out of MMS and into their MIS programs.

Then we turned our attention to shortening the loan cycle with MMS. Although MMS is a fairly structured system, how the steps are managed is unique to each organization. Andrew has been capturing timeline data for each organization, which sheds light on how each is using MMS.

Once an application is received, the steps in the process, along with our team’s average number of days for each step, are summarized here for the current CAMEO MMS users:

MMS Loan Steps Median # of Days
for each step
Range of Days
for each step
Run Auto Review 3 2-3 2
Collect required documents 17 15-34 14
Underwriting recommendation 3 3 3
Final decision and closing 23 14-28 14
Total # Days 46 34-68 33

One benefit of MMS is the ability to streamline the lending process, allowing organizations to focus on increasing volume. The goal of our conversation was to look at how much time it takes each organization to get a deal through the process, which in turn, determines how many deals they can close in a year.

As the table shows, collecting backup documentation and final decision take much of the time. The high-volume microlenders have their loan officers out in the field, collecting documents at borrower’s place of business. Their staff also have final-decision authority without having to go to a loan committee. These two approaches can get loan turn around to 2-3 weeks.
We discussed these ideas, and got various responses. Some organizations don’t have the capacity to have staff in the field collecting documents. Others feel that having the borrower present to the loan committee is an important step in a client’s business development skills even though it adds time to the process.

We don’t pull the MMS family together too often, and it is helpful to flesh out ideas, get feedback and give everyone food for thought. This discussion was helpful in expanding our collective knowledge and furthering our success. We now have seven organizations in CAMEO’s MMS project. Go team!