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Podium pushback will fade with education: Weston

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Australian Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 06:00 AM Agree 0
Advantedge's Steve Weston has conceded that some brokers are unhappy with the aggregator’s new software, but said the company is investing heavily in training its members to make the most of the system
  • Unhappy Choice Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 09:57 AM Agree 0
    The problem is they have consultation with a few head honchos from the sub-groups and dont come and see small 2-5 broker groups like me to see what we actually want from the software. Whilst I didnt overly like the Plan software, the new Podium is shocking and actually makes it more difficult to process a loan. I'm now moving to an independant software provider.
  • Getting used to new software - Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 10:21 AM Agree 0
    I would like to comment froma different perspective. In part i agree with the Disgruntled broker. This was my first reaction after being switched over in November 2011, there were quiet a number of adjustments to be had...very challenging when you have a few deals on the run.
    I can say now after making a focused effort that i would not go back (as suggested by Steve Weston). Once the client's data is in teh system it makes the next deal as easy as 'updating previously gathered information' and it all auto populates into the application.
    Like all good software there is a major thinking shift needed to stay on top of the changes, but at this stage three months on i am happy with the result.
  • Unhappy User | 17 Feb 2012, 10:22 AM Agree 0
    I agree with Unhappy Choice Broker in regards to the lack of consultation that seems to have taken place with "front line" brokers. I have been using it now for many months and I do everything in my power to avoid using it. It's just not user friendly and seems to have no flow to it.
  • Louis | 17 Feb 2012, 10:25 AM Agree 0
    Try Symmetry. It's great
  • brokerboy | 17 Feb 2012, 10:27 AM Agree 0
    It controls me, I dont control it. I thought technology was here to make life simple not harder, PLAN has gone backwards with Podium in my opinion.
  • Another Unhappy Choice Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 10:42 AM Agree 0
    I have been heavily involved with software design in past industries, and this is not about training. It's about software that is NOT intuitive, and poorly designed. Yes it does what it should, but I am one of the most computer and software savvy people I know, and every day I get confused and angry. It is obvious that whoever designed this did not use state machines, nor just a simple flowchart on how deals are entered.
  • Unhappy Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 10:48 AM Agree 0
    I went live before Christmas and it must be the worst system I have used, too many key stokes to do the same thing you could do with the old system in less key strokes. The old system allowed to clone and keep information just as good. I think it is more Advantege wants to hold all the cards as there were 2 system in the old system the CRM and the Applyonline, where all the real data on a client was held. Now with the new system you put this info in the front on the CRM and Now Advanatege own the new Information. then it pre populated to the applyonline. No Manual, No training before go live. The spend Millions developing and implementing with training an after thought.
  • Contented Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 10:48 AM Agree 0
    I have been using the system for several months and yes it was time a little complicated in the beginning however I took time out of my business to learn it inside out so that ultimately I could use it to the fullest extent. Once the data is in there you just need to make some minor adjustments to income, assets and liabilities and it is all pretty much ready to self populate. I have now had to do additional loans for clients whom are in the system and it is fabulous. Best advise I can give is take the time to learn it, I would not be without it now.
  • Country Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 10:49 AM Agree 0
    I am a PLAN member with my own licence ,
    The system is complicated and is very CRM orentiated , it has many good points , and its NCCP compliance documents help particulary the client needs analysis . Yes you have to get the clientdata in correctly and make sure it link correctly , the tutorials and weanairs are great and informative.
    The system allows for good electronic submission for lenders EXCEPT for PLAN Lending which is difficult , advantedge really need to solve that and maybe ditch Lite works and make it as compatible .

    I am now quite happy with the system
  • Country Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 10:52 AM Agree 0
    Another comment , to say this is a very good system is not correct , I jave a friend who is with AFG , their system is simple to use and does what podium does , sales force may be on of the biggest , BUT THE BEST ???
  • Peter Argeetes | 17 Feb 2012, 10:53 AM Agree 0
    It has been almost 7 months with the new software and I'm still trying to get my head around it. One item that's lacking from the software is a system to search which lenders will lend on a particular security/product/scenario eg "Time Share Accommodation/Investment". It means that you have to ring every lender to ascertain if they accept this type of lending.
  • brokerboy | 17 Feb 2012, 10:57 AM Agree 0
    clients can go online direct and apply for a home loan, I am a broker of 12 years that cant use Podium to do the same. I have no choice to spend my time looking for other software options, not trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.
  • Connective Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 11:05 AM Agree 0
    Podium was one (of many) reasons why I left Choice for Connective at the end of 09. We had been promised major upgrades to Podium for more than 2 years previously, & 2 years further down the track, Choice Brokers are still suffering.
  • Annoyed broker | 17 Feb 2012, 11:31 AM Agree 0
    I had the misfortune to be one of the first users to be migrated over to it. That was mid 2011 & I am still struggling with it. It's built around compliance with no thought given to some of the basic tasks that any broker uses daily. It appears that everyone has had an input into it except the people that matter. i.e. The brokers.
  • Yet Another Unhappy Choice Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 11:33 AM Agree 0
    Perhaps a poll to the brokers asking that question and I'm sure there would be a huge majority in favour of 'give me back the old one'. It was simple, user friendly, quick to gain information - I feel this new system has tripled the amount of data entry required to gain half the information. I for one will stick with using the library, commission claim and bank websites.
  • Experienced Finance Professional | 17 Feb 2012, 11:43 AM Agree 0
    Whilst Podium does have some positive aspects such as an excellent compliance tool, with relatively easy access to legal fees and LMI details, there are still far too many negatives to the software to consider it a "powerful asset".

    Podium software is clunky taking too many clicks to manoeuvre making it time consuming, is non intuitive, requires too much duplication of data entry that then needs to be deleted to assess affordability or when transferred to lodgement CRM, has glitches that allow unauthorised brokers to view client details that are not affiliated to their business ...... And so the list goes on!

    Podium has potential, but desperately needs to be upgraded to become a more efficient sales tool. Perhaps if the developers and Advantedge listened to the brokers prior to building the software, we would have had a more favourable outcome. The reason why the longer serving brokers are concerned is because we have used a more efficient system in the past.

    As a footnote: At the very least, make the entire process workable via any browser, instead of favouring Internet Explorer which has its own inherent problems.
  • Julie Chen | 17 Feb 2012, 11:46 AM Agree 0
    I totally agree with the broker's comments here. The new system limited us to give customer a quick response to the servicing, government fees. and the worst thing is we have to have internet access while we are seeing the customer. It is slow and inconvenient system. I mush prefer the old podium.
  • Choice broker | 17 Feb 2012, 11:49 AM Agree 0
    The whole process of entering a new client and a new deal is over complicated. The system seems to have been created by IT gurus without much input from the brokers that actually use the system. Having said that the way data is entered in the offline Podium Briefcase is much more user friendly than entering it online. Briefcase is exactly how the online data entry should be. It flows much better and data is entered in a logical order. Sure they can still have the other Salesforce screens in the background so you can still use the CRM capabilities but the entry process should be designed with the end user in mind.

    There are a few other bugs that I have brought to their attention but nothing seems to have been done about them.

    I am hoping the system is still a work in progress and improvements will be made. I don't need training since I know how to use the system. What I want is for it to be more user friendly as I described above. It needs to be less time consuming to use.

    On the upside at least now when I do another loan for the same client most of the information is already entered which will save time. Also Salesforce is one of the best CRM systems out there and has some great features.
  • Yes I have left | 17 Feb 2012, 11:49 AM Agree 0
    I received the new system with no training. Deals on the go and told to log on and do remote training - all web based. Had the system for 5 months promised I would receive training but because it is only me received nothing...I have since changed Aggregators and very happy...
  • Coast Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 11:55 AM Agree 0
    I am a Plan Member and have been in the industry for over 30 years. People by nature are reluctant to change. Unhappy Brokers get out of your comfort zone. I have had Podium since November and yes it was hard to use at first but like anything new there are always going to be issues. But lets face it we learn from mistakes. Everytime I use Podium now it is becoming easier and I learn something new with how to use one of it's features. In 12 months time will be saying what was all the fuss. The training section of Podium is a great source of information however you will only learn from using it.
  • PLAN Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 12:29 PM Agree 0
    I have been in banking and finace since Janaury 1968 with a major bank and then broking close on 10 years. Like one other commenator I was considered the IT guru in each branch I worked in. As a branch manager and department lending head, I have had to introduce new practices and be instrumental in dealing with paradigm shifts.
    One thing shared with me recently is that the test of Podium with southern brokers was not a test. Apparently the brokers looked at it, did not use it and signed-off to say it was good. Therein lies a lot of our problems.
    When my CRM was transferred like you, I lost all anniversary dates for reviews, fixed rates etc. Joint applications which were originally had separated balance sheets, are now bulked under the one applicant.
    I am a regional sole operator, far from the nearest capital city. Training is trail and error.
    Learnt of Briefcase on-line/off-line application the other week - this has improved input time.
    I now need to send out the CNA to clients prior to their calling to allow their info to be captured. So their first interview can be an enjoyable experience.
    As mentioned previously above, a lot of catch-up work is now required by Advantage trainers.
  • Leith Wickstein | 17 Feb 2012, 12:45 PM Agree 0
    I'm interested to read through all the posts above and really agree with the most recent comments made by Coast Broker.
    We have been onboard with Podium since mid November and initially there were some teething problems as we had to adapt and change how we used the system - not at all unlike when electronic lodgement first came to market and everyone complained, now we all get annoyed if a lender doesn't have electronic lodgement capabilities.
    The trick that most have overlooked is upon completing the training, they went away and didn't use the system, then months later found it hard and of course it was difficult. I've had many Choice members in Vic speak to me about this and the first question I've asked is, did you do the training - most were answered, No I didn't have the time!! One can assume these are the ones that are mostly now having the issues.
    There is also still this misconception among some that you have to be online to use the system (as per comment from Julie Chen above), but this is not the case. There is the brief case which gives you the ability to use the system offline and then this syncs with the system as soon as you are connected - it's brilliant for those times especially when internet connection is playing up.
    I'm now a heavy user of the system and find it fantastic - never have I been able to pull as much information on my database as I do now and it’s giving a much better environment to target market my database to drive more business. If you have any loan writers under you also, it's a great tool to keep on top of their activity and performance upfront straight from the system.
    Sure there are still some bugs, but when isn't there when a massive piece of software is introduced, it's a matter of working through these to get the system continually improving. But that takes us as the front line brokers to pick these up - no amount of research prior to "go live" will ever pick up everything.
    In short, this is a GREAT software package, it's extremely powerful, YOU just need to invest the time to get to know it.
  • Contented Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 12:57 PM Agree 0
    Totally agree Leith, also I have just done a test since this email came into my inbox 2.5 hours ago. I have updated CRM as changes needed to be made from last nights appointment. I have completed Loan Summary, and Simulation Docs for the client, CNA, PA, CPD, Servicability Sheets, Electronic Application, as well as printed docs for signing with client tomorrow morning. Yes it was a nice clean skin application however it can be done. If you were a new broker to this system and had not seen anything before you would be amazed at what it can do. Nobody ever embraces something new, get on with it and learn how to use the system and I am sure you will produce results.
  • Perth Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 02:52 PM Agree 0
    The new podium system is not customer friendly, it is not faster, it is not easier and it consumes too much time in trying to understand "all" it can do or even load an application. Advantage management must be concerned that this system is costing an enormous amount of money to try to justify its' introduction.New technology is suppose to assist and improve our lot, New Podium doesn't. It really needs someone to make a decision, withdraw it from service, modify, fully test and then reintroduce. All we want to do is write loans and build our businesses, please leave us in peace to do so.
  • Michael Eberand | 17 Feb 2012, 04:00 PM Agree 0
    Best thing since sliced bread as far as I am concerned. Has enabled my office to become 99% paperless; date protection and security worries and hassles gone, one key of information, ease of submission, record keeping, engineering of NA and PA and storage to prove compliance by deal.... I am loving it has cut my work flow needs in half. and support from Partnership Manager at FAST second to none. It took me a long time to 'get it' but once it sinks in its worth the time invested.
  • Country Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 04:26 PM Agree 0
    I Have just reviewed all the comments, my comment is, have Advantedge Management been listening , clearly not , aggregators live with brokers , time for a major review here by all at Advantedge , clearly the launch has been a shambles.
  • Andrew Aickin | 17 Feb 2012, 06:51 PM Agree 0
    I tend to agree with most comments but the system is flawed and the data migration leaves lots to be explained. For example, how do you explain losing 400 odd clients off you mail out? We had heavily customised out database and when the merge was done PLAN tried to fit our custom data into the generic data and we ended up having about 350 live deals on the go (I wish) and when we went into clients and the client owner, about 700 odd had to me moved to a different broker as the ownership had been changed.
    Also, how can anyone honestly say that it is a great marketing tool when you are limited to how many emails you can send? We have about 2500 clients so sending out limited amounts of emails is so backwards, especially when you are emailing about the RBA movements... Let’s not even talk about the mass mail mergers. Why should we have to figure out ‘workarounds’ just to do a simple mail merge??? Please.
    We also hold our own ACL and the system forces us to use the generic docs. I have stopped using it as I am sick and tired of explaining who BLSSA is! Clients know who we are not who BLSSA is and why are we using their details on our forms??? Not to mention that our brand or logo don’t even get a mention. We have created and are using out own docs. But we have to hand write them.
    Furthermore, I am computer savvy and am very comfortable with the system. I have attended the training sessions and have learnt very little from them. When I have asked serious questions about a part of the system (Outlook integration for example) I am told to contact the BDM who then tells me that they don’t know and will call the helpline. I am still waiting for someone to explain how it works – properly and without putting my appointment is an hour differently and doubling up.
    I have even been told by IT people and senior managers at PLAN that I am ahead of the curve and that they (PLAN) have not worked out what I am asking....
    Sorry but this has been one of the worst experiences of my professional life. I have been looking at other software systems/aggregators and am still looking for something that is going to be suitable for our systems and work processes.
    PLAN and Advantage need to sit up and listen to what brokers are saying. The system does not even let you TAB though each different page in the same order. Let alone being logical. How can you go from First Name to Last Name on a client then to Address and back to the middle name??? Come on!
    We are looking for alternatives and are not ruling out a move.
  • Choice Broker | 17 Feb 2012, 07:18 PM Agree 0
    "Brokers are unhappy" is an gross understatement if ever I've heard one. Maybe Advantedge should be investing heavily if getting the system right instead ?
  • ozboy | 20 Feb 2012, 10:05 AM Agree 0
    Seriously though there are some great 3rd party software solutions out there (although I wouldn't include Symmetry in this....wow you must have been using a piece of paper, pencil and abacus before). That's why FAST brokers aren't complaining they have 3rd party software and therefore haven't taken up Pandemonium.....did I spell the right.
  • Broking/Planning | 20 Feb 2012, 11:39 AM Agree 0
    Well done Andrew Aickin for telling it as it IS. Our office is very computer savvy, but PODIUM has caused us to endure nothing but grief. If we could find a better Aggregator we'd walk away from PLAN Australia tomorrow.

    You would think that with all of the repeated delays to the roll out of the PODIUM offering and for the 20 odd million dollars that was 'invested' in it that it would be close to being Right at the get go. Everyone expects teething problems, but the continual dramas that have equated to a Lot of lost time in our office has been nothing short of Pathetic and bear in mind this is from an outfit that likes to consider themselves industry leaders. The software isn't even multi platform, it won't run on Apple Mac, so we've had to revert back to Windows OS (which to our mind always seems to have it's own innate issues). Obviously their software development people not heard of Cloud based software.

    To those who suggest undertaking the training is the answer, we've done it and yes some of it was helpful, but a lot wasn't and what's clearly evident is in the software's design not a lot of input was sought from Brokers as to their needs or requirements. Good software design shouldn't require a lot of training for the end user to be able to do their job smoothly and efficiently, it should be somewhat intuitive and it should flow. It shouldn't be clunky, difficult to utilise, time consuming and unwieldy. It also shouldn't be a roadblock to the efficiencies of our office. Nor did I believe that I would ever be on first names basis with PODIUM's I.T. people, but we are.

    To be perfectly honest, I think over the years we've become too accepting and too accommodating of poor software and or service delivery from our Aggregators, we've gotten to the stage where we'll accept near enough as good enough. We've had to raise the bar over the last few years in terms of our own professional development, why should we expect any less from our Aggregator?
  • ozboy | 20 Feb 2012, 04:29 PM Agree 0
    Well said. For an aggregator with a cloud based system (multi platform) look at Connective.
  • MikeG | 20 Feb 2012, 10:01 PM Agree 0
    Sorry but I'm a part-time broker and I dont think I would get my investment in timback. Have spent last 4 days stuffing around in podium to lodge a deal. Yes it got easier and seemed to be flowing but then most data didnt transfer to eLodgement anyway so what was the point! Over 11 years as a software trainer and best thing I can say is it makes other systems I've used look better.
  • Podium Shining | 22 Feb 2012, 02:03 PM Agree 0
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!
  • Podium nightmare from advantedge street | 09 Mar 2012, 12:14 AM Agree 0
    as a new broker to Plan, i am seriously considering changing to AFG or Connective or Vow. If advantedge spent $20M on this program, then what a waste! Compare to Stargate Group and Symmetry, Podium is about 8 years behind Stargate's technology. Other aggregators BDMs (mainly AFG) are targeting Plan, Choice and Fast Brokers because they know the podium system is about what Flex was at 8 years ago!
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