Increasing Speed and Security for the USDA Rural Development Agency

The Customer

The customer is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the department of the federal government that provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. 

Its Rural Development Agency’s mission is to improve the economy and quality of life in rural America for the 46 million citizens (15% of the U.S. population) that live and work there. One of the ways the Agency acts on its mission is by providing supporting loans through banks, credit unions, and community-managed lending pools. With a loan portfolio of over $222 billion, the USDA’s Rural Development Agency plays a vital role in creating jobs, connecting families with homes, and supporting economic development and essential services.

The Challenge

The Agency’s parent organization, the USDA, had been operating without a standardized system for electronic document management. Individuals and teams within the Rural Development Agency used paper and file cabinets to store and organize information, in addition to a variety of self-selected digital tools (such as shared drives). As a result, processing times were being slowed down by workflow inefficiencies and the lack of structured access to documents. 

Agency leadership recognized the need to automate loan processing workflows to create more efficiency for their employees and provide better service to borrowers. They knew that the key to achieving this would be transforming its manual, paper-based way of doing business into a secure digital process.

After examining every aspect of the process — from the time a customer applied for a loan, provided documentation, received financing and USDA stored the loan in the system, serviced the loan, etc. — USDA determined that they needed to implement an integrated software platform that could be tailored to their needs.

The Solution

QFlow Systems analyzed the challenges that the Rural Development agency was facing, demonstrating the potential solution through a tailored proof of concept of Q-Action. QFlow’s commercial-off-the-shelf Q-Action Electronic Customer File (ECF) solution had the ability to integrate with USDA’s existing software assets for loan origination, underwriting, data warehousing, and more.

Rural Development decided to proceed with a full Q-Action implementation. Both business process design and software experts from QFlow met with the project’s stakeholders to outline how documents should be routed for each step of the loan origination and management process. 

Once the steps were outlined, QFlow designed, developed, integrated, and tested the platform, which streamlined and automated the loan process. QFlow’s development team created prototypes and conducted extensive testing before the full rollout of the software took place. The final platform included document management and business process management functionality that was tailored to the Agency’s needs.

The platform featured automated workflows within Q-Action that routed secure, digitized documents to parties for the appropriate approvals and filing. For the first time, Rural Development had a central repository containing all loan documentation that also kept borrower personally identifiable information (PII) such as social security numbers and banking data secure. Each document also stood as the single source of truth—preventing multiple versions or copies from causing confusion or duplicate work.

The Result

The Q-Action implementation by QFlow has resulted in several business benefits for USDA. First, by eliminating manual keying of data, the solution has enabled the Agency to minimize overhead and reduce the opportunity for error during the loan process. 

The solution also created a better experience for USDA employees. By creating automated workflows, the Agency improved processing times and cut down on redundant tasks for employees. Q-Action helped Rural Development reduce paperwork, postage, and lead time so they were able to initiate new loans faster than before….all while keeping borrower and financial institution information secure. Q-Action also enabled Rural Development team members to collaborate across offices by using electronic documents instead of paper.  

For borrowers, this meant a better ability to secure funding for family homes and businesses alike. With paperwork flowing through the system seamlessly, Q-Action software enabled smoother transactions for all of Rural Development’s loans. Because of Q-Action, QFlow was able to support the Agency as well as homeowners and small businesses across the rural United States.