American AgCredit is a borrower-owned financial institution whose primary mission is to provide loans and related services to eligible individuals and entities in the U.S. agricultural industry. Part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, American AgCredit has approximately $10 billion of owned and serviced assets in California, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
Several years ago, AgCredit used a semi-customized application to generate its loan documentation. However, the application didn't allow for production of dynamic documents and was built on an aging platform. In the midst of a company growth spurt, AgCredit realized it needed to upgrade its document production technology and started the process of selecting a new loan documentation tool. "We had just completed back-to-back mergers and needed to find a tool that was more flexible and scalable for our needs," states Paula Olufs, Vice President of Loan Documentation. "We needed something that was user friendly and provided for standardization throughout the organization."
AgCredit organized an internal committee responsible for putting 15 vendors through their paces, culminating in face-to-face presentations and a rigorous question-and-answer session. In the end, the committee selected HotDocs for its feature base, ease-of-use, and decidedly lower cost.
AgCredit attorneys and loan documentation staff worked with the HotDocs Professional Services team to organize, update, and mark up documents to indicate variable and conditional text. The loan documentation staff also designed the user interviews and help screens. HotDocs Professional Services then automated the documents and created the user interviews. After testing and approval, the new system was rolled out to all AgCredit branches in California and Nevada.
AgCredit has now been using HotDocs for over 5 years and has noted many significant benefits. Olufs says, "The software is very easy to understand from a programming perspective, so we have the ability to modify our templates internally. The granular control we have allows us to react immediately to regulatory and process changes requested by our legal department." Moreover, as several variations of the same document were consolidated into a single HotDocs template, maintenance has been greatly simplified. Olufs cites an example, saying, "We previously supported up to 8 different notes, whereas now we support just one note template and let HotDocs determine which variant to produce based on user input during the interview."
Since the initial deployment, AgCredit has completed three additional mergers. "Because HotDocs is so scalable yet easy to use, we have the ability to roll it out to these new offices quickly and efficiently," says Olufs."The training required for new staff is minimal." AgCredit has also integrated HotDocs with a front-end loan origination database application. Much of the data required to produce loan documentation now flows seamlessly from the database into HotDocs interviews, which saves even more time for end users by eliminating data input redundancy.