CATEGORY: Data Quality

REVIEWER: Frank Cockrell, senior software engineer for Harland Financial Solutions, Inc., a subsidiary of the John H. Harland Company.

BACKGROUND: Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Harland Financial Solutions (HFS), the financial software subsidiary of the John H. Harland Company, serves more than 6,000 financial institutions of all types and sizes in the United States. Major customers include Bank of America, CitiMortgage Inc. and Firstar Corp. Among the nation's 20 largest institutions, 13 use mission-critical systems designed by Harland Financial Solutions. More than half of all banks use Harland's products, as do nearly 1,000 credit unions. Harland Financial Solutions is a leader in database marketing software, loan origination systems, branch automation and core processing.

PLATFORMS: Harland Financial Solutions' customers run Data Junction 7.0 on Windows NT, 95 and 98.

PROBLEM SOLVED: HFS offers a broad spectrum of financial software products including SMARTPostClosing, a powerful post-closing mortgage document tracking system and SMARTSecondary an automated secondary marketing system for the mortgage industry that provides integrated pipeline and comprehensive risk management tools. The integration challenge HFS faced with software implementation was twofold: to seamlessly interface our products with our customers' existing loan origination and/or loan servicing systems, and to provide customers with the flexibility to modify their interfaced data set without HFS intervention. Financial institutions commonly use a wide variety of database formats across multiple applications, including text, SQL, Access, FoxPro and Oracle. Due to the financially critical nature of the data that our systems manage, our clients require an expedient turn time on interface requests to HFS. Prior to using Data Junction, HFS custom coded these interfaces, requiring that each connection be verified as coded accurately. To ensure data integrity, each interface file layout was systematically previewed. New requirements and changes to existing interfaces required extensive time and coding effort from both our clients' IT departments and HFS. By packaging Data Junction with SMARTSecondary and SMART-PostClosing, and providing our customers with the necessary Data Junction transformation scripts, HFS eliminated the bulk of the integration burden for all parties.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Data Junction is comprehensive in its support of a wide variety of data formats. With Data Junction, we are able to immediately see the layout by selecting "connect to." Data Junction allows us to query directly into any origination or servicing system, no matter what the file format, and pull data from specific fields to bring into SMART-Secondary and SMARTPostClosing. Data Junction also supports translation of this information on a field-by-field basis to ensure data integrity in those situations where the origination system terminology differs from ours. With Data Junction, we are able to reconcile differences as well as validate all data transformations. With its simple Map Designer, we write all the necessary integration scripts and then schedule them to run automatically with Data Junction's Integration Engine. We are also looking at moving into a real-time process in the future using the Integration Engine.

STRENGTHS: Data Junction saves us a lot of time. It is easy to use and makes it very simple to transform fields from one database to another. Data Junction also allows us to trap errors and fix rejects easily and on the fly, which ensures data quality.

WEAKNESSES: Like many software products, its documentation is somewhat lacking. We would like to see more examples included in the documentation.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We compared Data Junction to other products and it proved to be the most comprehensive. We could transform data from any source to any target, and it allowed us to easily translate specific fields. Also, because it uses a Visual Basic-type script, we didn't have to learn a new scripting language.

DELIVERABLES: Data Junction gives us swift and seamless integration of customer data, enables us to populate our information database and ensures the integrity of data as it moves from the customer application into ours.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The support has been very good. If we have a problem, and the answer isn't immediately evident, Data Junction's tech support staff works until they have a solution for us.

DOCUMENTATION: Although the documentation is helpful in many areas, we sometimes found it to be incomplete, especially regarding the engine. Documentation with the new 7.5 release, however, has been improved and includes more helpful examples.

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