Group IT Director, Cabot Financial
Cabot Financial relies on SAS Professional Services for business process and technology transformation
Debt management company Cabot Financial selected SAS Professional Services to manage adoption of a unified Debt Management System achieving integration with Apex Credit Management
Cabot Financial is one of the UK's leading consumer debt purchasing companies and, following its acquisition by private equity firm AnaCap, the company is currently undergoing integration with Apex Credit Management, another debt management business already owned by AnaCap. A key step in the integration of the two companies is the establishment of common systems and approaches to debt collection.
The decision was taken to base the new unified Debt Management System on an upgraded version of Apex Credit Management's proprietary Collections platform, Collex, combined with a powerful SAS Analytics & Business Intelligence platform. This integration meant the 10-year-old legacy application previously used by Cabot Financial could be retired. To support this technology and business process integration task, Cabot Financial has worked extensively with SAS Professional Services on four separate workstreams, including: debt collection strategies, Business Intelligence (BI) and reporting, data integration, and data quality.
As Grant Young, Group IT Director at Cabot Financial, describes, the relationship with SAS extends beyond technology alone: "SAS is essential to our integration vision, both from a pure technology standpoint and equally from a professional services and consulting perspective." He continued, "Without SAS Professional Service's rigorous requirements-gathering, strategy development, design and user acceptance testing, we wouldn't have been able to reach the stage we have today."
SAS is essential to our integration vision, both from a pure technology standpoint and equally from a professional services and consulting perspective. Without SAS Professional Service's rigorous requirements-gathering, strategy development, design and user acceptance testing, we wouldn't have been able to reach the stage we have today.
Supporting business strategy
Apex Credit Management was an existing SAS customer which meant the SAS Professional Services team was able to effectively replicate the company's existing approach to debt collection processes, but within the new upgraded SAS® Intelligent Debt Management System. For Cabot, the situation was far more complex as the business was adopting a completely new system and, therefore, ways of working needed to be updated and refined. SAS consultants designed over 30 new debt collection strategies based on a thorough understanding of how the business operates, with design improvements consistently added. These strategies were then detailed in design documents and prototyped within SAS® models, which will be subjected to rigorous user acceptance testing before general roll-out.
As Ron Rosman, Project Manager at SAS, comments, "Our consultants have been involved alongside Cabot's own people, conducting a series of workshops to understand debt collection strategies in the Cabot world today, what the new system will look like, and to give thought on how to improve." He added, "This isn't just about a new system but also new business processes."
Enhancing Business Intelligence and reporting
One of the main workstreams supported by SAS consultants saw knowledge transfer and mentoring between SAS and Cabot Financial's own data management professionals and business users. Working with a highly experienced SAS consultant leading the project, Cabot Financial went about reviewing its 130 existing BI reports to assess the relevance of each. Through a workshop programme with each business area, redundant reports were retired and new reports, needed by the business, designed. Each and every report was then constructed and tested for feasibility and relevance, delivering an up-to-date view of business and functional performance required by the company to make improved day-to-day decisions.
As Grant Young explains, "The BI workstream was a challenging implementation and it was immensely helpful to have the guidance of the SAS project lead." He continued, "Upgrading our approach to reporting was particularly important as self-service reporting allows business users to undertake standard reporting themselves.
Facilitating effective Data Integration
No business integration can succeed without effective data integration and this point was recognised early by Cabot Financial and the SAS Professional Services team. The data integration workstream has seen Cabot Financial create a single data warehouse, and SAS consultants design, build and test subsequent data marts which draw on the warehouse. The company's new SAS Intelligent Debt Management System relies on these data marts on a daily basis, so it was essential that Cabot could rely on the experience of SAS consultants to work with SAS® Data Integration technologies to build the needed data marts.
Creating a single view of the business through Data Quality
As Cabot Financial buys new debt regularly, it needed to identify if new consumer debtors entering its system already existed within its current books. If so, this would enable the company to improve its interactions with those individuals by consolidating its contact and potentially suggesting a single repayment plan.
SAS consultants worked on-site and hand in hand with Cabot Financial to build and test data quality business rules within the SAS® DataFlux® Data Management Platform to overcome this issue. By constructing this business-rules library, the company gained a detailed understanding of its existing debt books and how they relate to the new business it takes on. In addition, SAS consultants helped the organisation to more clearly define exactly what constitutes 'a customer', and what data should be held on them, which was necessary as this definition previously differed between Apex Credit Management and Cabot Financial.
Knowledge transfer and education
With Cabot Financial having adopted the new SAS Intelligent Debt Management System, empowering the company's employees with the knowledge to make the most from the investment was paramount. SAS Professional Services undertook a complete 'training needs analysis', which resulted in the suggestion of a structured training programme for the in-house team.
"SAS was new to most of our team so we recognised the need for a training refresh. Working with the Professional Services consultants we were able to quickly identify the skills we had and those we needed to develop in order to make our technology investment payoff," commented Young.
To date, the company has used the vast majority of its training credits, with employees attending a wide variety of courses in areas including: Technical Platform Admin for Cabot Financial's IT team, functional training for those business users building and maintaining debt collection strategies, as well as a wide range of Data Integration, Business Intelligence and Analytics courses.
Implementation of a new SAS Intelligent Debt Management System to deliver unified technology and business processes during the integration of Apex Credit Management into Cabot Financial.
SAS® Professional Services, SAS Education Services, SAS Intelligent Debt Management, SAS DataFlux Data Management Platform, SAS Enterprise Miner™
Successful implementation of SAS Intelligent Debt Management, integrated business processes, improved data quality, knowledge transfer and training, as well as closer business integration of merged companies.