Discharge – fully electronic service

From the beginning of the Transformation Programme we’ve been working with representative bodies, firms and lenders to identify how we can improve services.  This type of collaboration is a key element of the way we’ll deliver new services because it’s only by speaking with the people who will use our services that we understand and learn what they need from RoS.

Towards the end of last year the Law Society of Scotland (LSS), Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) and RoS identified the discharge process as a candidate for improvement.  The next steps we undertook were to validate this directly with firms and lenders. We contacted members of our UX panel explaining our purpose was to review the discharge process and a ‘discovery’ team visited panel members at their offices or we met via remote meetings.

Our discovery team was composed of a user research specialist, business analyst, product owner and account manager.  We met with 12 firms, 8 lenders and LSS, CML, Scottish Paralegal Association   and Building Society Association to find out more about the current discharge process from both a solicitor’s or paralegal’s perspective as well as the activity undertaken by lenders.  At the present time this activity mostly takes place before any interaction with RoS, although the solicitor/paralegal may have prepared an application form in anticipation of the signed discharge being returned by the lender.

One of the things that was immediately apparent was how willing people were to give us their time and share information about their processes and their experience of our existing services.  This was invaluable to us in helping us identify where change and improvements could be made.  We matched this qualitative research with quantitative by way of four surveys issued to different participant sets.  These were used as a touchstone to ensure that as we progress with ideas for change we continue to pursue a direction that’s desired by our customers.

From our sessions with customers we began to design a new process for discharges via a platform provided by RoS that removes some of the risks and delays referenced by Ross in his blog and that we also heard reiterated over the course of our research.

The most significant changes are that this is a fully electronic service, no paper forms nor deeds are required and that the workflow has been streamlined. The new discharge service enables an initiator, for example a solicitor, to send a discharge request to a lender.  Upon approving the request the lender submits the discharge to RoS instead of returning the signed discharge deed to the solicitor.

This means we move from this:

To this:

Upon submission to RoS you’ll continue to receive your official notifications: the acknowledgment receipt and the acceptance confirmation including the updated version of the title sheet.  However, we know that, in a title transfer for example, you’ll want to satisfy the other party that a discharge has been sent to a lender and on to RoS.  We’re considering how best to provide this function and currently we’ve represented this via optional status updates.  By selecting to inform someone of optional status update we could advise them when an application has been sent to a lender, when a lender has signed an application and when a lender has submitted a discharge to RoS.  This would be additional to the official notifications providing an extra level of monitoring on each application.

Over the coming months we’ll work to refine the prototype we’ve produced and that means more sessions with you to ensure that our proposals meet your needs. One area for discussion is this status update function.  We need to do more investigation to determine whether this is an effective way to provide information to parties interested in an application or if we need to provide this by another method.  We’re aware too that regardless of method, this is a not insignificant change to your processes but one that has been favourably received by our discovery group and representative bodies.  We’ll continue to work closely with them to consider and enact the changes needed to implement this.

We’ve produced a demo to illustrate the new edischarges service and specifically its workflow from firm to lender to RoS.  We’ve completed the first stage in the development of this service and this was primarily to identify that there’s a market for change and how that change might look.  We now move into building the service, embedding it in our infrastructure and refining its appearance and functions so it reflects not only how we’d like it to look as one of the first outputs from the RoS Transformation Programme but more importantly what you need it to do in order that it becomes your preferred method for the completion of discharges.

Looking forward, you can expect more blogs on the status of edischarges and we’ll also be continuing, just as we began, by meeting with you, sharing iterations of the prototype and refining it on the basis of your feedback each time moving us farther towards the version that we can release to you so you can receive the benefits of a secure, faster, streamlined service.

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