Software Review – WorkCenter by vForms

I have been waiting for a product that achieves the contact management power of ACT! and integrates this information with the Loan Origination System I use, Calyx Point. vForms of Redmond Washington has released a very impressive product that promises some real progress in this direction.

WorkCenter provides an integrated panel that allows the user to efficiently manage their contacts, from such basic capabilities as database management, scheduling, and alarming, up to more advanced features such as generating reports and merge letters. It also enables users to integrate this information on an ongoing basis with Calyx Point, eliminating the common problem faced by those of us who have long struggled with separate databases for each.

A list of contacts appears in the left hand side, and Tabs appear in the right hand side for Contacts, Schedule, Reports, Library, and Web Center. The tab for Action Plans is also ready for the next sub-release of WorkCenter, when customizable marketing campaigns will be available. The left-hand side features panes for Contacts, Reports, and Webs and Wizards. Some functions such as the Reports feature may be accessed in the left-hand pane, or from the tab on the right hand side.

WorkCenter offers a true relational database structure. Multiple sources of data can be linked together and managed within one interface, and an Import Wizard allows the user to easily bring in leads lists in a variety of formats, including text, Excel, XML, and Access. A Microsoft Outlook plug in is provided to integrate WorkCenter with Outlook e-mail, as well as to easily allow the exchange of Outlook contact information with WorkCenter. WorkCenter also allows data export to the very fine Agosoft Loan Analyzer and Comparator (previously reviewed in M.O.M.), as well as Mortgage Coach. Data exchange with FNMA 3.2 format is coming in the next version.

Contacts and Scheduling
WorkCenter provides a panel that is roughly similar to Microsoft Outlook. A list of contacts appears in the left-hand panel, and each record is highlighted within a panel in the right-hand side. I was amazed at how intuitive the interface was, after having learned the ACT techniques of using key combinations or the menu commands. In WorkCenter, you only need to type in the first few letters of the person’s last name to see the record highlighted on the left. A simple click will bring this record up in the right-hand side to review particular information.

Once you have opened up the record, you may use the system like any other contact management system. It is a matter of either a right hand mouse click to schedule an appointment, call, breakfast, drinks after work, and so on, or the contact may be dragged onto a calendar where the user can then highlight the date and time the activity is desired. This drag and drop capability is much easier to use than the scheduling capability within ACT!.

Alarms will appear on a regular schedule, consistent with what the user has decided they want to appear during setup of the program. Unlike ACT!, the alarms do not block your view of the contact information screen, but are located in the lower right corner, visible but not disruptive. Key activities may be scheduled by clicking icons on the top, for calls, appointments, and others. Any user of Outlook or ACT! should have no problems adapting to this basic layout in a few minutes.

A feature called Contacts List Manager provides the equivalent of Grouping in ACT!, but is more versatile and powerful. Dragging and dropping allows contacts to be added to a list, and a rule may be developed and employed if desired, to automatically bring contacts into a selected list. An optional do not call list module allows the user engaged in telemarketing to be notified when contacts were accessed that should not be called. This do not call list capability can be subscribed to by area code, and maintained by the main servers at vForms headquarters in Redmond, WA.

Data Synchronization
vForms has already established itself in the market as an efficient data transfer and merging tool with various Loan Origination Systems, and the vSync feature has been heavily used by mortgage professionals. I expected a powerful and relatively seamless exchange of data with Point, and I was not disappointed. As had been the case with vSync, this process appears to be genuinely robust in its operation.

Once you have designated the folder or folders in Point that you want synchronized, you simply have to create a new file in Point, and upon the next synchronization with WorkCenter, the new files would automatically appear in WorkCenter. If you elect to synchronize the files regularly, you will find that not only are all the new files added but also the existing files in WorkCenter will receive the most current updated information from Point.

If data folder management is done correctly within Point (files are moved to the appropriate archive folder upon closing), the system will automatically break the link between Point and WorkCenter once a loan is completed. All subsequent contact management activity would be performed within WorkCenter. I do recognize that two-way synchronization would be desirable, and I have been assured this will be added in an early sub-release, including customizable scheduling and field triggers.

Mail Merging
A simple mail merge is achievable by simply clicking on a library item from within the Library tab, located along the top. Double clicking a letter will allow the user to generate a mail merge letter or e-mail on the fly. This has always been the strong point of ACT over other contact management systems, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it was even easier in WorkCenter. I simply moved from the contact list on the left to the Library tab of letters on the right. Upon double clicking the desired marketing letter, it appeared within several seconds, within its own Word compatible word processor.

It was a simple matter to select the mail merge dropdown list, and merge data from the Contact list, or from Loans, or directly from Point. While key contact information is available from the Contacts tab, you may always elect to merge data directly from the loan file itself when loan specific information is desired. Inserting mail merge fields was essentially either a drag-and-drop operation, or the selection of the appropriate location in the marketing document followed by double clicking of the mail merge field.

I tried to bring in a document from Microsoft Word, and discovered that a number of formats were supported. I simply dragged the document from my desktop and dropped it into the Library window on the portion of the list of documents that I wanted it to appear. It was very easy to edit existing documents by inserting a graphic or logo if desired.

Reporting on Your Activity
WorkCenter features a report generator that summarizes your contact activity. This report generator allows one to run reports on activity within the loan origination system, the contacts section of WorkCenter, or both at the same time. If I want to easily answer such questions as “Active Loans” or All Loans Cancelled,” I may select the desired report from the left hand list of reports once I have selected the Reports tab on the right or bottom left. Almost immediately, the list of associated contacts will appear on the right side, along with any documents or letters associated with that status, all available in the date sequence the associated question was made. A heavy degree of customization is also available in this part of WorkCenter, but the built-in reports are very adequate to answer the major questions that you might want to ask about your office origination and marketing activities.

WorkCenter will offer automated marketing campaigns in the next sub-release of the existing product, once sufficient feedback has been gained to allow the developers to accurately forecast how these campaigns should be structured. Online automated updating is a key feature of WorkCenter, and these updates will be performed automatically as they become available.

This is a very impressive first generation product, from an acknowledged industry leader in data exchange and synchronization. Among other advantages, it is demonstrably faster in operation than the latest versions of ACT!. It is an admittedly complex product, with an array of features that I have only touched upon. Even for long term ACT! fanatics such as myself, the existing features and long-term potential are a real temptation to make a switch.

If you will devote the time to setup and learn a sophisticated package such as WorkCenter, the rewards will be considerable in improved follow-up with your referral customers, as well as more effective management of your loans while they are in process.

By Stephen Breden

Software Review – Product Spotlight

Product Spotlight

MorSystems has introduced the third version of the Borroware® client loan application system. Borroware allows originators to provide their clients a choice of application options. The pre-approval requires just enough information necessary for a loan originator to run a credit check and pre-approve a client. When the client is ready to complete the full application (online or downloadable), the information from the pre-approval is already in the application. When the originator receives the file, they save and import it to their loan origination system. Borroware is branded to each loan originator through the MorSystems Web site.

Rate Consolidator software (from Arieysoft, LLC) provides loan originators with a sole source for lender rate sheets. Rate sheets are pre-sorted and organized, with the latest interest rates available. Rate Consolidator includes a tool bar customized so that users are able to view their lenders’ information.

Ellie Mae’s Encompass 2.0 includes several new features including a loan template that enables users to pre-populate fields with common data such as loan program, forms lists, and closing costs. A custom milestones feature is aimed at enhancing business manageability by allowing users to tailor/adapt milestones to their individual business flow. Version 2.0 also includes a new integrated calendar and scheduler and an expanded contact manager.

Palisades Technology Partners’ version 4.0 of the Impact Software Suite includes independent XML services, including good faith estimate fees calculation service, loan pricing service, lending compliance service, and mortgage loan calculations service. The Impact Mortgage Suite provides support for customers’ existing enterprise workflow tools, in addition to an out-of-the-box document delivering system featuring mapping, auto-selecting and online previewing functions, and remote printing and sending of standard and custom documents. offers training for bilingual Spanish-speaking loan originators. The Web site was developed as a partnership of Bilingual Scout and will be a key part of, a Web site for Spanish-speaking homebuyers. displays mortgage companies that employ Spanish-speaking loan officers, along with information on purchasing a home, down payment assistance, and other homebuyer information.

Product Profiles

Products and services of interest to originators, lenders, and others.

Entyre has released version 2.0 of eMortgageX4™, featuring new X4 e-Collaboration Engine capabilities. The Engine was designed to provide lenders with the ability to “easily customize” the communication process between all parties in the closing process. According to Entyre, users can reduce their closing and post-closing costs by delivering enhanced, “more accurate, and compliant closing documents.” It uses an “advanced,” open architecture platform and SOAP/XML transfer protocol. X4 enables brokers, closing agents, and consumers to collaborate electronically and to confirm and enforce data accuracy and compliance.

GainClients, Inc. has introduced a new automated template-based Web site service to real estate and mortgage professionals. The GainClients Web site system allows users to incorporate the Internet into their total marketing package and extend their personal/corporate brand on to the Web. Homebuyers can educate themselves with the purchasing process, preview and “short list” the choices they want to consider, and communicate with agents. GainClients gives users the ability to manage their own Web site with automated functions and features.

Office Capture, a paper-to-electronic document program developed for low-volume document conversion and management environments, has been released by DocuLex. DocuLex Office Capture enables document scanning, content indexing, image quality control, optical character recognition (OCR) conversion, image coding and endorsing, electronic document conversion (PDF image + text, TIFF, or JPG formatting), and printing, including export capabilities. Office Capture is a Windows-based, open-system format, and according to DocuLex, is “easy to operate for document imaging beginners while flexible for experienced users.”  

Sysdome, Inc. has unveiled the Sysdome Broker Score® program to “advance industry standards and support professionalism” among broker originators via a national registry.  Based upon its scoring logic algorithms, Sysdome will rate individual brokers with a “score” to be shared with both the broker and Sysdome’s lender customers. Sysdome assigns an identifying number associated with individual originators, and stores their Broker Score findings in a proprietary relational database.  Key broker/originator data reviewed by the Broker Score program includes: state licensing agency status check, derogatory state licensing information search, and OFAC compliance review in accordance with the U.S. Patriot Act. Through an annual subscription service, brokers can monitor their lender-accessible score, as well as their employees’ scores; have the opportunity to explain irregularities; and dispute incorrect information through verifiable documentation. 

The Mortgage Office

Most mortgage companies have settled on one of several loan origination systems (LOS) for their loan origination and processing needs. While most of these products are specific to the area of loan origination and processing, I have been looking at a product that is a bundle of services for the mortgage office, including a number of functions.

Installation of The Mortgage Office takes a few minutes and a call to the tech support department to obtain a key that is associated with your specific computer ID. This factor makes it nearly impossible for anyone to “‘borrow”‘ your software and set up their business on it, a problem I have seen with other systems that were not copy protected.

Opening the demo version that I was provided with allowed me to access the files of a mythical company called World Mortgage Company, and I entered a user name and password to enter the main database. A clearly marked menu at the top contained the standard set of Windows icons, as well as some that are proprietary to The Mortgage Office. Under Modules, I noted that the system provided the following sets of functions: Loan Origination, Loan Servicing, Trust Accounting, Partnership Servicing, Collateralized Mortgage Obligation, DRE Annual Reporting, ACH Express, Financial Calculator, and Credit Reporting. While it was clear that the system could be used by any mortgage broker, it may be of most interest to a California based broker doing private trust deed investments and note sales—so-called “hard money lending” (the area in which I started in the mortgage business back in 1989).

The Loan Origination module contains a number of features that can be selected from a menu structure. Open and Pending Originations and Note Sales appear to be the modules you would routinely use. After clicking on the Open Originations button, a spreadsheet appears with a line for each transaction in the database. Clicking on the particular line allows the user to select that transaction for further processing. This new menu has icons at the left-hand side for General Information, Borrowers, Funding, Properties, Terms, and a number of other items. The program is structured so that any or all of these windows can be left up at the same time to allow the user to switch easily to the desired section, rather then moving in and out of the existing window, as is very common with many programs. One is essentially “drilling down” into the program to get to the level of detail desired within a particular transaction.

A Financial Calculator module allows for a number of sophisticated results to be obtained, including Amortization Schedule, Negotiate Loan, Calculate APR, Fully Amortized, Interest, Calculate Yield, Balloon Payment, Current, Balance, and several others. Negotiate Loan covers all the details of a transaction, including terms, payoffs, yields, and commissions to be factored together. These items are all on one screen, in a manner commonly done with financial calculators to obtain yield or purchase price, as an example.

Other modules are available to allow for Loan Servicing, including payment and check disbursement, which can be a major headache to any private money lender trying to manage multiple trust deed investments and funds on both the investor and borrower side.

Maybe of most interest to me was the heavy focus on marketing, reporting, and preparation of required forms and disclosures in the program. As I well know from personal experience, it is absolutely essential to correctly disclose in these types of transactions for Department of Real Estate (DRE) compliance, and to provide the necessary reporting and trust accounting to meet DRE requirements. This program is obviously a real help to the private money lender doing business in California, and who finds other LOS systems inadequate for these types of requirements.
Additional features include its ability to operate with multiple companies, allowing the user to keep separate databases. The built-in security used in The Mortgage Office protects data with a system of passwords. Access can be restricted down to the user level, and can even allow for limited access on the basis of a particular workstation or time of day.

The Mortgage Office can be purchased in any of several configurations, depending on your specific requirements. I think any broker considering such a product should call the sales and marketing department at Applied Business Software for a specific quote centered on their particular private money lending operation and its requirements.

By Stephen Breden