REVIEWER: Scott Wallace, managing director of Finance and treasurer, ITLA Capital Corporation.

BACKGROUND: ITLA Capital Corporation is a publicly traded diversified bank holding company specializing in commercial real estate lending on a national basis, headquartered in San Diego, California. The company conducts its operations through Imperial Capital Bank and Imperial Capital Real Estate Investment Trust. Imperial Capital Bank has seven retail branch locations and 21 loan origination offices in the U.S.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Our operating system is Microsoft Windows XP and our database is Microsoft SQL Server. We outsource our core back-office systems (general ledger, accounting, loan-servicing and deposit applications) to Metavante.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We needed to replace the spreadsheet-consolidation approach that supported the bottom-up budgeting process we conduct twice a year. Our new software, CONTROL, instantly captures budgeting information in a single location where it is immediately available for review and analysis. We now complete our budgeting processes in about half of the time it previously consumed, and we can update that information on the fly. Automatic interfaces of budgeted and actual information enable us to get information in the hands of managers to help strengthen their decision-making.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: CONTROL allows us to slice and dice budgeting and actuals information in a highly flexible manner and to customize our reports. For example, it generates reports that contain information on actual expenses, at whatever level of detail we desire, for the past 12 months (or longer). That information appears right next to expenses budgeted for the next 12 months. That view delivers a clear understanding of whether or not requested budget amounts make sense.

STRENGTHS: Besides strengthening and shortening our budgeting process, CONTROL has reduced the budgeting staff's consolidation work from a daylong effort to the click of a button. The software delivers important budget and actuals information to users' desktops in a very timely manner. CONTROL also deepens our understanding of our overhead expenditures. For example, if we want to understand where $258,000 was spent last month, CONTROL produces a list of individual postings that show the actual vendors we paid.

WEAKNESSES: The product's depth of functionality comes with a learning curve, which was made steeper due to turnover within our organization during the implementation process. However, our investment in training - which we conducted by sending some of our people to off-site classes and by having KCI consultants conduct on-site, hands-on sessions - has really paid off. Our people, who did not have previous experience with this type of system, are now comfortable using the software without any handholding.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We developed a shortlist of vendors based on price and the extent to which the solution could be tailored to meet our unique needs as a midsized company in the banking industry. After inviting several vendors to conduct demonstrations, I spoke to other banks and budgeting managers to gain a deeper understanding of the functionality within each solution on our final list. Our final decision came down to the fact that CONTROL possesses a more robust ability to drill down to the detailed, transactional level of information.

DELIVERABLES: We use CONTROL to produce budgeting reports on staffing, staffing expense, capital expenditures (budgeted) and capital expenditures (actual). Those models feed our enterprise-wide overhead model. We generate detailed reports of budgeted and historical costs for any time period we desire. We also create various budget-versus-actual reports that clearly show the extent to which we are performing to or deviating from our budgets.

VENDOR SUPPORT: We've found that smaller software vendors tend to provide better customer support and service, and that certainly is the case with KCI. Once we signed a contract with KCI, CONTROL was up and running in time to support our budgeting process three months later. They willingly and cheerfully provided a high level of handholding and customer support throughout the process. They have never hesitated to make time to help us, even on short notice.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is sufficient but no substitute for the on-the-job training KCI consultants provide.

KCI Computing, Inc.
3625 Del Amo Boulevard
Suite 100
Torrance, CA 90503
(310) 921-6222

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