Winter 2013: In 2012, Property Insight began the most ambitious plant conversion project in its ten-year history, migrating data from the Security Union Online (SOL) plants, used in eight Southern California counties, to the new TitlePoint™ plant format.
In the Beginning
In 2003, Property Insight had a plant presence in 40 counties and managed 13 title database formats. Product managers agonized over search functionality that had to be constructed different ways to accommodate the different plant formats.
With the release of Santa Barbara, CA as a modernized plant, Property Insight has turned the corner on plant conversions and began the process of retiring the mainframe Security Union Online system, the last of the remaining legacy plant formats supporting TitlePoint™.
From 13 Title Database Formats in 2003, to One
In the old plant, Santa Barbara users had to be familiar with legal description formats that evolved over time in order to construct a property history. Now TitlePoint™ users can automatically retrieve property history and view the “from” and “to” legal variations.
A new feature, Subdivision Look-up, allows users to easily search for and retrieve information about subdivisions, such as maps and legal descriptions. It’s one more locating tool designed to improve searching efficiency and accuracy.
Users also enjoy an upgraded name search function that allows for easier searches, especially for business names.
Through the Eyes of Development
The plant conversion team is tasked with mapping the plant data from the legacy systems to the TitlePoint™ format. This is accomplished by employing a methodical process to manage the change-over, which includes a painstaking review of the legacy plant and an understanding of how records are keyed and posted. A team from FNF India also plays an important role in the project.
The programming work is divided into logical pieces and assigned different developers. Team members have already supported major plant conversions in Arizona, California, Washington and the Midwest. Some take on complex development assignments, while others scrutinize the data, looking for defects prior to the conversion. One member has more than 50 years of plant automation experience.
The Launch Sequence
The final steps in the plant conversion process begin several days in advance of the switch-over and start by extracting data from the legacy plant. The actual conversion takes days and requires a systematic, step-by-step process that involves several teams within Property Insight. The plant quality improves during conversion, a major goal in a plant conversion project.
Erik Bauer, Operations Manager, is focused on achieving a 100% cross-reference in plant matching, or linking every parcel number to very top-layer property.
To accomplish this, Erik and his team employ a proprietary software application that creates the property control file, the backbone of a modern geographic plant. And while this application employs numerous automated QC checks and validations, it doesn’t mean your hands don’t get dirty.
“Every map – recorder and assessor – has to be touched,” he explained. “You can’t cut corners when you’re connecting entities in the data. And you still have to deal with historical data, regardless of how challenging that becomes in a conversion,” he added.
The Santa Barbara plant conversion paled in complexity to the Santa Clara, CA plant conversion, completed in the summer of 2012, when 1.8 million parcels were rolled into the modernized plant. There, software automation played a key role in producing a quality plant under much tighter time constraints.
The level of cooperation involved in plant conversion includes subject matter experts in plant operations, plant structure, applications development and quality control is incredibly strong. The plant operations team is tech-savvy and capable of running queries on data and performing diagnostics. Systematic testing allows plant operations to test plant quality more thoroughly, elevating confidence.
Looking ahead in product design, the prospect of a single, national title database format is exciting. Property Insight’s offerings will be consistent across counties, making it easier to train and support clients who are taking their businesses to a regional model.
To Erik Bauer, the attention to detail in plant conversions is all part of the company’s passion for data: “If it’s not accurate, you can’t build on it" he explained.
For the people of Property Insight, change can’t come fast enough.