Published on 12-Feb-2013
"IBM Operational Decision Manager is helping us dramatically accelerate our change cycle for business rules... we can add, change or remove rules within a matter of days – so we can evolve our services to meet the specific needs of each client." - Matt Trueman, Director of Platforms and Technology, TDX
TDX Group is one of the UK’s leading independent debt liquidation experts, offering creditors the platforms, tools and services they need to optimise returns from debt. The company employs approximately 250 people. Founded in the UK in 2004, the company has now expanded internationally into Spain, Australia and several South American countries.
TDX’s debt collection service helps creditors place the right debt with the right debt collection agency at the right commission price. To tailor and evolve this service to meet clients’ needs, TDX needed a highly flexible decision management system.
TDX deployed IBM® Operational Decision Manager and integrated it with PLATO, the company’s industry-leading debt placement and management platform.
Faster development: users of PLATO can update decisioning rules without IT support. Changes can be rolled out in hours without the complexity associated with an IT release.
Building an ideal platform with PLATO
At the heart of TDX’s debt collection service is a system called PLATO, which acts as a debt placement and management platform. PLATO allows clients to load debt accounts and then cleanse, enrich and segment them before routing them to the most appropriate debt collection agency. PLATO provides creditors with the tools to manage the entire account lifecycle including automated recycling, query workflow handling, portfolio controls and flexible reporting.
“To complement PLATO, we have recently launched HeliX – a data exchange – which allows our clients to benefit from an even wider data set,” adds Matt Trueman. “By signing up for HeliX, creditors agree to share the data that TDX collects on their behalf with a closed user group of other creditors. This can provide a substantial uplift in collection rates and also informs fair and appropriate treatment of the customer. With a much richer source of insight into individuals and their financial circumstances, it helps creditors make better decisions about how best to collect the debt while also treating them fairly.
“For example, if we receive a new case file from a client in the banking industry, and we know that the customer is already in a payment plan for debts they have incurred with a utilities company, we can allocate the account to a collection agency that already has an effective and productive relationship with that individual. This type of cross-portfolio matching gives all our HeliX clients a better chance of collecting their arrears and informs fairer and more sensitive contact.”
Developing and evolving services
The launch of HeliX is just one example of TDX’s constant effort to develop new products and services to meet clients’ needs. In many cases, TDX depends on continual fine-tuning of the business rules that guide the company’s decision management processes. It is vital for the company to be able to manage and update these rules quickly and easily, in order to tailor its services for existing clients and bring new customers on board.
“The challenge we were facing was that our existing business rules engine was hard-coded into the PLATO system,” explains Matt Trueman. “Even a small tweak to one of the rules required support from our technology team, which had to fit in around large-scale technology projects. As a result, it could take up to a month for a rule-change to be developed, tested and rolled out.”
More flexible decision management
TDX decided to find a more flexible solution by integrating a new decision management platform that would integrate with PLATO and replace the existing hard-coded business rules engine. The company sought advice from leading industry analysts such as Gartner and Forrester, and evaluated a number of products. Finally, the company selected IBM Operational Decision Manager as its new platform.
Matt Trueman comments: “IBM Operational Decision Manager was the most scalable of all the solutions we evaluated, and had excellent references from a number of large financial institutions and insurance companies. We were also confident in IBM’s pedigree, and its strong road-map for the future of the product. We saw Operational Decision Manager as the best option, not only for our immediate needs, but also for our long-term development as a business.”
Despite the complexity of the implementation, the TDX team successfully deployed IBM Operational Decision Manager within ten months – on schedule and within budget.
With millions of records to process every year within tight service level agreements, the reliability and performance of the new architecture is of paramount importance.
“Separating the business rules engine from PLATO means there is less load on each system, so both the core processes and the decision management process will run faster,” says Matt Trueman. “This will help us continue to meet our clients’ requirements as we expand our operations internationally and take on increasing workload.”
Empowering business users
Crucially, the introduction of IBM Operational Decision Manager empowers business users within TDX’s debt collection team to manage and update business rules themselves, without any support from the IT department, or any need for programming skills. The decision management logic is presented in an intuitive manner, and the solution even supports multiple languages – so it should be possible in future to extend it to TDX’s Spanish-speaking operations without much additional effort.
“IBM Operational Decision Manager is helping us dramatically accelerate our change cycle for business rules,” comments Matt Trueman. “Previously, complex rule changes used to take up to a month, while minor changes were often overlooked altogether, because it was just too much effort to implement them. Now, we can add, change or remove rules within a matter of days – so we can evolve our services to meet the specific needs of each client.
“As we continue to integrate new products such as our data exchange, HeliX, into our platforms, this increase in flexibility will be absolutely vital to maximise the uplift in collection rates for each customer. Looking at the whole spectrum of benefits that we expect to gain from the solution, we predict that we will achieve a full return on investment within eight months.”
For more information
To learn more about IBM WebSphere solutions for decision management, please contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at ibm.com/software/decision-management
To learn more about TDX Group, visit www.tdxgroup.com
Products and services used
IBM products and services that were used in this case study.
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