CHP Consulting, established in 1990, is the leading provider of software and consulting services to the global asset finance industry with headquarters in the U.K. and offices in USA and Australia. CHP's ALFA Systems solution, with its business logic built using LANSA, has grown to become an industry standard in supporting asset finance, vehicle finance and consumer finance operations at top banks, equipment manufacturers and finance companies, including Commonwealth Bank of Australia, GE Capital, HSBC, ING Lease, Lloyds TSB, RBS Lombard, National Australia Group, Nissan Finance, Royal Bank of Scotland and Société Générale.
Andrew Denton, director of sales at CHP, "By virtue of LANSA we are able to deploy our systems over a variety of popular platforms including Windows, IBM iSeries and Linux. LANSA keeps evolving. We can offer new technologies without having to re-develop existing logic. We can deliver high quality, maintainable code very quickly."
By virtue of LANSA we are able to deploy our systems over a variety of popular platforms
- Challenge and Choices in 1993
- How ALFA has evolved
- What CHP customers say about ALFA
- Company and System Information
Challenge and Choices in 1993
When CHP started on the development of its ALFA solution in 1993, Andrew Page, one of CHP's founding directors, had a clear vision in mind of the company and the product he wanted to offer.
"We were then and still are Asset Finance professionals first. Our consultants are involved in all aspects of the business, from initial contact with prospective clients to responding to detailed queries on the support desk. They need to understand the business issues and opportunities, the systems that we implement and the technology upon which ALFA is based. IT skills are important, but we don't want our consultants to be dragged down into non-essential technology complexities. It has always been our priority to recruit staff with the right set of business skills."
"At the same time we had technical requirements. We wanted to deliver a solution superior in architecture that was flexible and scalable, so the solution would work across platforms and in demanding high-volume environments. We needed a reliable and productive development environment that could take care of the underlying complexities, without any penalties in speed and performance."
Justin Cooper, one of the founding directors of CHP, explains why LANSA was selected, "We just thought it was the best tool in the market. It was the only tool that could handle the mathematics that are required for complex financial calculations, such as present value and cash flows, without having to use 3GL routines."
"As a result, ALFA's business logic is totally written in LANSA, with no user exit programs required at all. This made it very easy to provide our ALFA solution on multiple platforms."
LANSA was the only tool that could handle the mathematics that are required for complex financial calculations without having to use 3GL routines
How ALFA has evolved
ALFA supports sophisticated asset configurations, from computer equipment to motor vehicles and more. Features include residual value maintenance, end-of-term options and management, n-tier asset hierarchies, miscellaneous information at asset, agreement and customer levels, whole life asset tracking and profitability and asset level business process control.
CHP has regularly delivered new releases of ALFA incorporating enhanced business functionality and new technology. Major new modules and functionality released include Point of Sale, Credit Analysis and Proposal Management .
ALFA's major technology milestones include Windows, Web and PDA extensions, additional deployment platforms and an XML messaging layer.
In 1996, CHP started to use LANSA/PCX the predecessor of Visual LANSA. This allowed CHP to deploy ALFA to multiple platforms, as LANSA/PCX could generate C from the same high-level LANSA source code that was used to generate iSeries code.
In 1998, CHP started to extend ALFA modules with eBusiness functionality and a browser interface to allow its clients' branches, brokers, car dealers and other large customers Web access. "Extending ALFA with eBusiness functionality and a browser interface was an easy evolutionary step for us, because we could build further on our existing LANSA skills," says Denton.
From 1999 onwards, CHP has used LANSA Client to extend ALFA's reporting facilities. LANSA Client, like all LANSA tools, has access to the central Repository. Denton says, "We had a whole range of pre-packaged reports written in LANSA. That is great for static reports that hardly change. But our customers have customized and ad hoc reporting requirements as well. There are plenty of end user query and reporting tools available, but we like LANSA Client because it understands the ALFA database navigation, speaks simple English and has field level help. Many other query tools let users bring a machine to its knees by incorrectly joining files."
"LANSA's virtual fields are an enormous advantage. The ALFA database, like most operational databases, is engineered for speed and doesn't store any calculated data. For example, if you try to calculate exposure in any other query tool, you would have to include about 10 fields from several files in your calculation. With LANSA Client, it is just one virtual field. That makes it easy and completely consistent with other reports and screens in ALFA. We are thinking of marketing LANSA Client as ALFA Client."
In 2001, ALFA was benchmarked on an iSeries model 650-2189 at IBM's Customer Benchmarking Center at Santa Palomba, Italy for volumes up to 3 million contracts, 6,000 concurrent users and several terabytes of data, with significant additional processing capacity still available.
In 2002, CHP started to use Visual LANSA to expand deployment platforms further and to offer a truly graphical and event driven Windows interface. Denton says, "Visual LANSA also made it easy to integrate with other Windows programs. Leasing is a very document intensive industry and our customers use document imaging extensively. Scanned documents can be held within ALFA and it is very useful for our customers to be able to see all their scanned documents through ALFA's Visual LANSA user interface, to have a single window to all the information they need.
"Now most of our developers are trained in Visual LANSA. Visual LANSA scales well, which is important because our project range from a few months to multi-million dollar projects with over 50 developers. With the help of LANSA, we have achieved an enviable track record of being on-time and on-budget for every implementation."
Simultaneously CHP started to build ALFA's Extended Architecture XML messaging layer (ALFA/XA). All ALFA functions are built in such a way that they can deploy client-server, by separating the presentation layer and wrapping the business logic in XML. "This allows ALFA's business functions to be used by any third party program on any platform," enthuses Denton.
ALFA Pocket-Quote, launched in 2004, is a mobile quotation solution that is based on ALFA/XA. Denton, explains, "Being able to share information between a handheld PDA and the back office and produce a quote under current terms and conditions, is a great advantage over a standalone solution. We can guarantee that the rate the PDA comes up with is exactly the same as the rate the back office system comes up with."
ALFA Web Tier module, launched in 2005, is also based on ALFA/XA. It provides a Web application framework that allows CHP's customers to use simple XML tag references to access data and LANSA-based functions within ALFA. "Both ALFA Web Tier and the other ALFA Modules can serve as component parts of a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) delivering true enterprise integration," says Denton.
Visual LANSA scales well, which is important because our project range from a few months to multi-million dollar projects with over 50 developers
What CHP customers say about ALFA
Co-operative Bank (UK) PLC, one of the UK's most respected retail banks, has deployed ALFA Systems in a Microsoft Windows 2000TM and Oracle environment. ALFA has brought increased functionality, advanced accounting and workflow-driven, procedural control to the Co-operative Bank.
A representative of Co-operative Bank, said, "CHP stand out as real industry experts. Their ability to understand fully what's required from a modern asset finance business in conjunction with the strength of their ALFA Systems and a clear commitment to deliver on time and on budget made them the winning choice for the Co-operative Bank."
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has installed ALFA Systems to replace five legacy systems within Premium Business Services (PBS). ALFA will manage all leasing agreements and asset based lending, automating many processes previously handled manually.
A representative of the Commonwealth Bank, said, "Asset finance is a strategic priority for PBS, and this new IT system for the first time brings together many parts of our asset finance business while simplifying many processes and systems that will help us to deliver excellent customer service.
Lombard Car Division, based in the UK, has implemented ALFA/XA to automate the finance new business process within and provide seamless integration between its Dixon Motors dealerships and Lombard's core ALFA Systems platform.
A representative of Lombard Car Division said of the new systems, "Through implementing these systems we believe we have created within Car Division an industry leading technology platform. By using a generic messaging architecture, we will be able to re-use this platform throughout the group. By using automated credit scoring and workflow provided by CHP's ALFA Systems, we are setting the pace for the end-to-end financed purchase of a new vehicle."
Barclays Asset Finance, based in the UK, has successfully implemented the ALFA Systems for its Structured Asset Finance division. Barclays Asset Finance introduced the concept of finance leasing to the UK in 1960 and are specialists in providing asset finance to the UK corporate market.
A representative of Barclays Asset Finance said, "The ability of ALFA to administer the various financial structures that we offer to our customers, underpinned by robust accounting support, was a key success of the implementation. CHP Consulting's impressive experience of the finance industry enabled them to really understand our business and work with us to ensure we delivered maximum benefit in implementing the ALFA Systems."
Nissan Finance (UK) Limited selected ALFA to provide the whole of the back end administration systems.
A representative of Nissan Finance (UK) Limited said, "CHP Consulting were the safe choice. Given their history of success and the proven quality of the software, choosing the ALFA systems was not a difficult decision. Now we are in an enviable position within the industry. The number of agreements per administrator is one of the highest around, the use of the Arrears Management module allows us to use real workflow to monitor and action our arrears cases, meaning that our bad debt position is very low, and our dealer satisfaction levels are very high. ALFA and CHP Consulting have played a key role in us achieving these targets, and we look forward to a continuing fruitful relationship with them."
A clear commitment to deliver on time and on budget made them the winning choice
By virtue of LANSA we are able to deploy our systems over a variety of popular platforms including Windows, IBM iSeries and Linux. LANSA keeps evolving. We can offer new technologies without having to re-develop existing logic. We can deliver high quality, maintainable code very quickly," continues Denton.
"ALFA's smaller clients can run their system in a Windows environment with either an Oracle or SQL Server database, while larger clients can leverage the benefits of the robust and scaleable iSeries, UNIX or Linux environments," says Denton.
"Cornerstones of the ALFA architecture are efficient database design, parameterization and modularity. The architecture of the ALFA system was created by individuals with unparalleled experience in the finance sector, but having a tool like LANSA certainly helped," adds Page.
"We have never regretted our decision all those years ago to use LANSA. As we have grown and technology has evolved, LANSA has been right there with us," continues Cooper.
"For example, we are now on our fourth or fifth evolution of our presentation layer, and LANSA has helped us support them all. This on-going evolution has allowed us to leverage the hundreds of man years we have put into developing the leading solution in our industry."
"In addition, the single repository and the integrated development environment, together with LANSA's supportive approach to our input, means that we can deliver more function with fewer developers and manage this across multiple simultaneous projects."
"We have been working with LANSA V11 and expect the new features – especially the database and language extensions and support for a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) – to continue to help CHP move forward," concludes Cooper.
As we have grown and technology has evolved, LANSA has been right there with us
Company and System Information
- Headquartered in London, U.K., CHP Consulting was formed in 1990 by its three founding Directors - Justin Cooper, Ian Hargrave and Andrew Page and specializes in strategic and information technology consulting to the finance industry. Key areas of expertise include consumer finance, corporate asset finance, vehicle finance, fleet management, asset management and structured asset finance. The firm employs more than 120 consultants to support clients in Europe, North America and Australasia.
- CHP customers include Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester, Angel Train, AssetCo, Banc of America, Barclays Bank, CitiBank, Clydesdale Bank Asset Finance Ltd, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Co-operative Bank, Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, GE Capital Key Lease, GE Capital Key Lease (Germany), GE Capital Key Lease (France), Halifax Bank of Scotland, Handelsbanken, HSBC Asset Finance UK, HSBC Rail, Hitachi Capital, IBM Financial Services, ING Lease, Leasedrive, Lloyds TSB Asset Finance Group, Lloyds TSB Leasing, Lloyds TSB Strategic Asset Finance, Lombard Business Finance, Lombard Corporate Finance, Lombard Technology Services, Lombard Vehicle Management, National Australia Bank, National Irish Bank, Nissan Finance (GB), Northern Bank, SEB Finans, Société Générale, Société Générale Vendor Finance, Virtual Lease Services and Yorkshire Bank.
For more information on CHPs clients visit: www.chpconsulting.com/eu/en/clients/
- For more information on CHP visit: www.chpconsulting.com
- ALFA is a powerful range of software for the leasing and asset finance industry.
- An estimated 100 man-years development has been invested in ALFA.
- The systems are multi-currency and Year 2000 and Euro ready
- ALFA systems have been developed to run on the IBM® AS/400® range of computers and are available in Web and NT Server environments as well.
- ALFA is optionally bundled with LANSA Client for ad hoc reporting and LANSA Open for access by other PC based applications.
- ALFA uses LANSA's multi-lingual facilities.