The SPARK 7.9.7 release is planned for Saturday, November 11th. This update includes significant improvements to automation workflows as well as support for automated recommendations. The maintenance window will occur from 9:00 PM CT on Saturday, November 11th through 10:00 AM CT on Sunday, November 12th.
A release webinar was held on Thursday, November 16th at 11:00 AM CST. You can view a recording of the webinar at this link.
Automations – An Overview
Earlier this year, we introduced automation workflows (aka automation) in SPARK as part of our new lead form experience. This gave lenders the ability to automatically send an information request and/or assign package ownership based on the information provided by the applicant in a lead form. In this release, we have drastically expanded the capacity of these automation workflows. We have expanded the number of actions that can trigger an automation workflow, we have expanded the scope of package characteristics that can be evaluated by an automation workflow, and we have expanded the number of actions that SPARK can automatically take as a result of an automation workflow. Some customers are using this to, for example, assign package ownership based on the geography of the lead, while others are using it to send different information requests based on the amount of the request and the age of the business.
With SPARK 7.9.7, our automation story gets even better. Because automations are extremely flexible and highly configurable, let’s start with some basic examples:
Create Documentation Requirements for Specific Industries
When my applicant is a hotel, I need the applicant to upload a recent STAR report, the last cleared Property Improvement Plan, and details about the hotel specifications (e.g., year built, number of rooms, number of buildings, etc.).
Create Documentation Requirements based on Loan Size and Use of Funds
When the request for financing is more than $500,000 and the applicant is purchasing commercial real estate, I need the applicant to upload photographs of the property, leases and rental agreements, proof of insurance, and a property deed.
Create and Assign Tasks to Team Members
When the request for financing is more than $1,000,000, create and assign a task to the BDO to schedule a deal team meeting.
Assign a new Package Owner based on Geography when a Referral Partner Refers a Package
When a referral partner refers a package and the primary business is in the state of Minnesota, automatically assign Emily as the Package Owner because she covers that territory.
Send an Information Request when a Package is Referred
When a referral partner refers a package, automatically create and assign the “Full Application” information request to the referral partner.
Make sense? Now let’s look at some examples that are even more interesting.
Automatically Perform KYB, KYC, and Order a FICO SBSS Report when a Lead is Submitted
When a lead is submitted, automatically perform KYB on the primary business and KYC on the primary contact. If the risk score for either the business or the contact is outside of my threshold, assign a recommendation of “Review” otherwise request a FICO SBBS Score. If the FICO SBSS score is outside of my threshold, assign a recommendation of “Disqualified”. If KYB, KYC, and FICO SBSS are acceptable, assign a recommendation of “Qualified”.
Automatically Order a PayNet Report for the Primary Business and Personal Credit Reports for all 20% Owners of the Business when an Information Request is Submitted
When an information request is submitted, order a PayNet Report for the business. If the PayNet score is within my threshold and there are no 30/60/90-day delinquencies, order personal credit reports for all 20% owners. If any personal credit reports are below my threshold or there is a bankruptcy, assign a recommendation of “Review” otherwise assign a recommendation of “Qualified”.
We could go on and on with examples...
To better understand automations, let's review 4 important concepts: triggers, criteria, control flow, and actions.
Automations can be configured to run automatically based on a trigger. Additionally, each trigger can be selectively activated based on various filters. We’ve introduced four triggers in this release:
Lead Submitted – Automatically runs the automation when an applicant submits a lead form. This trigger can be selectively activated based on the type of lead form submitted, product type, and requested amount.
Referred Package Submitted – Automatically runs the automation when a referral partner submits a package. This trigger can be selectively activated based on the referral partner, product type, and requested amount.
Information Request Submitted – Automatically runs the automation when an applicant submits the final workflow in an information request (i.e., all workflows have been submitted to the lender for review). This trigger can be selectively activated based on the type of information request completed, product type, and package amount.
Information Request Accepted – Automatically runs the automation when a lender has accepted all workflows within an information request. This trigger can be selectively activated based on the type of information request accepted, product type, and package amount.
If you’re not ready for workflows to run automatically, they can also be configured to run manually.
Now that you have a basic understanding of triggers and how they can be used to start an automation. Let's talk about how you can control when something should happen - the criteria. When designing an automation, we have access to package-level information. We can provide an exhaustive list of what's available, but for now we'll keep it relatively simple.
Primary Use of Funds
Business Information (i.e., the primary business, all business borrowers, all businesses, etc.)
Business Age (startup, new, existing)
Transaction Role (borrower, guarantor, etc.)
Individual Information (i.e., the primary contact, all individual borrowers / guarantors, all individuals, etc.)
Date of Birth
All of this information is available and can be evaluated by the automation to determine when something should happen. In the example automations included above, we used amount, primary use of funds, and project address for our criteria.
In addition to package, business, and individual information, automations can also use information pulled in by various SPARK integrations (e.g., Personal Credit, LexisNexis, PayNet, and FICO SBSS) and we're not just talking about the score.
If you've ever looked at a workflow or process diagram, you've probably seen a lot of boxes and lines. The box usually represents an "action" or some piece of information being evaluated to "control the flow". The simplest example is "if this, then that" -- if the loan amount is less than or equal to $500,000 then I want to obtain a FICO SBBS score. Not only does SPARK support conditional logic, but it also supports looping (aka iterating) over a collection -- for every guarantor I want to order a personal credit report. These are both examples of "control flow". Automation designers use a combination of conditional logic and looping when designing an automation.
Now we're getting to the good stuff. We can control when an automation is started by using triggers. We can use information on the package as well as information that is pulled in during an automation for criteria. We can define what path an automation takes by using conditional checks and looping to control the flow. Next we need to take action because the automation needs to actually do something. We've added several new workflow actions or "activities" in SPARK 7.9.7 to automate manual tasks.
LexisNexis InstantID Business – Order a LexisNexis InstantID Business Report and Risk Score for a business along with consumer risk scores for up to 5 associates of the business.
FICO SBSS – Order a FICO SBSS score for a business and up to 5 personal credit reports for associates of the business.
PayNet – Order a PayNet Report and score for a business.
Personal Credit – Order a Personal Credit Report for an individual.
Assign a Recommendation – Assign a recommendation (e.g., Approve, Review, Decline) to a package when certain conditions are met / not met.
Assign Information Request to Primary Contact – Assign an information request to the primary contact.
Assign Information Request to Referral Partner – Assign an information request to the assigned referral partner.
Assign a Package Owner – Assign an internal person as the owner of a package based on certain conditions.
Send an Information Request – Send out an information request to the primary contact of a package when you need additional information.
Change the Package Stage – Change the stage of a package when certain conditions are met (e.g., Move the package to Underwriting when LexisNexis and FICO SBBS scores are acceptable).
Add an “Automation Log” Note – Surface key characteristics of businesses, individuals, and any standard SPARK integration on the automation log (e.g., Business Age, NAICS, Citizenship status, credit report characteristics, OFAC status, etc.)
Add a Package Note – Add a note to a package for informational purposes.
Add a Document Placeholder – Add a document placeholder to a package when certain conditions are met.
Assign a Task – Assign a task to a specific person or team role when certain conditions are met.
Assign a Workflow Task – Assign a task to a specific person or team role when certain conditions are met and pause the workflow when human intervention is required.
Accept or Reject a Referred Package – Automatically accept or reject a package that was referred by a referral partner when certain conditions are met.
Send Email – Send an email to a specific email address or an email address of an individual on the package (e.g., pre-qualification emails, information emails to package team members, etc.).
Decline a Package – Automatically decline a package when certain conditions are met (e.g., LexisNexis Risk Scores are below an acceptable threshold, the FICO SBSS Score is below an acceptable threshold, etc.).
Review Personal Financial Statement – Retrieve the personal financial statement for a specific individual to inspect the net worth, total assets, or total liabilities in an automation
Run a “Child Workflow” – Define and reuse a set of activities and logic (a child workflow) and run the workflow in the context of a larger workflow.
Viewing the History of Automations
The history of all automations that executed for a package is available from a new widget on the package summary as well as the package "Actions" menu.
Viewing the Log for an Automation
Automations can be configured to log important information to an "automation log". This log is visible within the package and provides a high-level summary of what transpired during the execution of the automation.
Running a Manual Automation
Lenders who choose to run automations manually to calculate a recommendation or to automate manual tasks can access a list of available automations for a package through the package "Actions" menu. The ability to manually run automations is controlled by a new permission.
The list of available automations is based on how the triggers have been configured. Only automations that can be run manually that also meet the product and amount thresholds are listed.
Continuing a Paused Automation
Automations can be configured to pause when there is a need to wait for human review (e.g., review the results of a LexisNexis risk score that is outside of your acceptable range). When an automation pauses, a task is assigned and a package team member is notified. Pausing an automation is useful when you don't want to incur the expense of additional integrations that could run as part of an automation.
Paused automations can either be stopped or continued -- it's up to the lender to determine what actions come next.
Since each lender may use different terminology, we’ve included the ability to define custom recommendations that can be set by your automations. Our out of the box recommendations are Recommend Approve, Recommend Review, and Recommend Decline; however, SPARK administrators can update these to reflect the terminology used within your organization (e.g., Qualified, Disqualified, etc.).
Viewing the Assigned Recommendation
Once a recommendation has been set, it is visible on package dashboard lists, the package preview, and in the header of every package page.
Changing the Recommendation Assigned to a Package
Lenders with the appropriate permission can change the recommendation set by an automation.
Viewing the History of Recommendations
Since multiple automations could run for a package and lenders have the ability to change the assigned recommendation, SPARK retains the history of how a recommendation has changed over time along with the reasons each recommendation was assigned.
Retiring Users - Retiring a user now clears the user's email address to avoid duplicate email address-related validation errors and warnings.
Community Advantage / CA SBLCs - Community Advantage processing methods have been updated to the standard 7(a) processing methods – GP (non-delegated) and PLP (delegated). Community Advantage SBLCs should continue to use SPARK’s Community Advantage product to originate loans as they are required to provide Community Advantage-related fields that are not required for standard 7(a) lenders.
Full Prepayment Penalty Description in Credit Memos - The full prepayment penalty description has been added to the default terms credit memo section and will be included in credit memos going forward.
Package Action Menu – We’ve made slight changes to the action menu available on all package pages so that the actions available on a package are organized in a more intuitive way.
Dashboard Package List Columns – Additional columns can be added to your dashboard package list.
Recommendation – The recommendation assigned by an automation.
Adverse Action Days Remaining – The number of days remaining in the adverse action clock.
Adverse Action Due Date – The date the adverse action clock expires or when an adverse action is due.
Reporting Fields – Additional fields have been added to the standard SPARK reporting view used in SPARK reporting and the API.
RecommendationName – The lender-defined recommendation.
RecommendationClassification – The classification of the recommendation (e.g., Approve, Review, Decline).
AdverseActionDaysRemaining – The number of days remaining in the adverse action clock.
AdverseActionDueDate – The date the adverse action clock expires or when an adverse action is due.
E-Tran Field Updates – A new field called “Calendar Basis Code” was introduced in E-Tran that will map to SPARK’s interest method. Going forward, all loans sent to E-Tran will send the interest method defined in SPARK as the Calendar Basis Code.
RMA - The 2023 RMA comparison data is now available. All new financial analyses will default to 2023 data.
Permissions for Managing Lead Forms and Lead Form Policies - We've added two new permissions to control who has authority to manage lead forms and the policies that can be associated to lead forms.
What's Been Fixed
Bulk uploading files with upper case extensions caused an invalid file type error. This was resolved in a hotfix.
We updated the mapping of E-Tran special purpose codes for Builders CapLine revolving lines of credit. This was resolved in a hotfix.
An error would occur if you tried to refresh the SBA Agreements for a particular lender / location. This was resolved in a hotfix.
Max length validation has been introduced to the add "add back" and add "sub account" screen. The sub account name cannot be longer than 100 characters.
Generating SBA Form 2237 would fail when an SBA Loan Number was not entered for the package.
Find Out More
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If you have any feedback or questions about this release, please reach out to your Customer Success Manager or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback will help us make SPARK the best loan origination software in the market!