ABSTRACT:

Almost everyone residing in US are aware of the current Mortgage Crisis and its impact on their daily life. While some professionals debate on how the problem got created, there were some Senators and US President actively involved in resolving this crisis at the earliest. If we consider solving a problem as a Project, then most of the principles of Project Management as mention in PMBOK are to be considered. Understanding more in detail about the problem and its impact on the Society reveals the important players. Gathering proper information about the problem that these players are facing is nothing but gathering requirements from the End-Users. These requirements now play a vital role in getting this problem resolved.

ABOUT THE PROBLEM:

Mortgage Loans are provided in general to those who have good income levels or make a reasonable down-payment or have a good credit history for repaying their loan amounts in a timely manner or people who have good employment status. These restrictions were enforced in the market to the extent possible. As an exception, few lenders offered special loans to those who do not qualify these stringent requirements. These lenders are the Sub-Prime Lenders. They offered a loan plan that makes the borrower to pay small amount during the incentive period. One of the main ideas is to give the borrower an opportunity to correct their Credit Worthiness so that traditional loans will be available for them before the expiry of the incentive period. Unfortunately this opportunity provided by the Market and Regulators were misused which lead to rise in these loans drastically. To maintain their niche in the Market, lenders over-looked some of the basic principles of lending[1]. Federal government reduced the interest-rates during 2001 and 2003 to boost the economy. Once the Federal Reserve started to raise their interest-rates, hypothetically the mortgage lending rates are to be increased proportionately. In contrast, the mortgage lending rates remained same or further lowered in some cases[2]. Once the housing bubble busted, everyone realized how deep they were in this mess.

With so many Foreclosures in the housing market, the Federal Government and some Senators came forward with certain legislative bills as a resolution. Foreclosure Prevention Act 2008[3] sponsored by Senator John Kerry, Home Mortgage and Equity Savings (HOMES) Act[4] by Senator Arlen Specter are some to be mentioned. The Administration reached out an agreement with the industry to freeze interest-rates for certain sub prime mortgages for five years [5]. Even a bill got passed in the Senate to help businesses with Tax-Breaks [6].

RESOLVING THE ISSUE:

Step 1: -- Gathering the Requirements

With the assumption that solving a problem is a Project of its own, then the first step is to identify the problem in detail. This is nothing but gathering requirements from the End-Users. Incomplete Requirements and Lack of User Involvement ranks the top causes for IT Project Failures as per the Chaos Report, 1999.

For this Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis, the key players for gathering the requirements are:

a) Borrowers

b) Lenders

c) Mortgage Brokers

d) Legal Advisors

e) Federal Regulators

f) Federal Reserve

g) US Senate/House Members

h) US President & its Administration

Step 2: -- Defining the Scope of the Project & Developing a Plan

Once the requirements are clear the next step is to define the Scope. Project Scope is the core for the success of the project. As explained in PMBOK[7], during this phase all the work required is included, and a clear and precise definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish.

Under these assumptions, the Project Scope would be to help the borrowers to avoid from being homeless and at the same time help the lenders to get their money repaid at the best possible level. There is a fine thin line drawn between these two tasks. Like every Project, this one too has certain risks associated with the task accomplishments.

The Project Scope Statement can be a Legislative Bill for debate in Senate or Hill.

This Project Scope Statement should include:

  • Project Objectives: This include the total amount that the Feds are willing to assist, the process and procedures that are being used to distribute the amounts and the auditing methods used to avoid any sort of mismanagement that might lead to fraud.
  • Project Deliverables: A detailed description of how the needy borrowers/lenders are getting the help from the Federal Reserve. The deliverables may include things such as data about how many low-income & middle-income families are bailing out, data about the losses that lenders are facing due to this crisis, data about the ripple effects in the Nation's economy etc.
  • Project Organization: At this point, Feds need to decide who will be the prime responsible person for implementing this Project. The members of this Project Team will be the Officials from Federal Reserve and the Stakeholders being the Mortgage Lenders/Borrowers.
  • Project Milestones: At this point, the Feds identify the Milestones during the Project Lifecycle. At the end of every milestone, the Project Manager or the Prime Responsible Federal Official has to validate the status of the Project and take necessary steps (if required) to correct any distractions/diversions in the project path.
  • Project Cost Estimation: While defining the deliverables, the total cost of the project estimated or calculated must be identified.
  • Creating Work-Breakdown Structure: This is the crucial part of this Project Phase. Identifying the key players and preparing the WBS will help the Feds to explain how the crisis will be handled at various levels.
  • Project Assumptions and Constraints: While presenting the Bill, the authors must produce the assumptions that they had and the Constraints that they can visualize.
Step 3: -- Executing the Project Plan
With the cooperation of the required Stake-holders, Federal Reserve can start implementing the Project as follows:

1. Identify all the Applicants who are at the brim of the Mortgage Crisis. The Lenders for these Applicants are further summarized. The finalist contains the list of Lenders and the total amounts that the Federal Reserve is going to reimburse. A secondary list provides the list of all Applicants and their respective information and the mortgage assistance amount.

2. Once the Federal Reserve repays the appropriate amount for respective lenders, it can be assumed that the First Milestone is achieved. Before initiating the Second Milestone, respective Federal Officials can audit the process followed. A Change Management in the Execution Process can be initiated if required.

Repeating the above two steps until all identified applicants were assisted results in the completion of the execution phase.

Step 4: -- Handling the Project Risks

Like every other Project, there are certain risks involved during in this Project too.

The primary risks involved during planning phase are: Data Source: The Source that the Feds used to identify the applicants who are the prime targets of this crisis. Data Integrity: The integrity of the data that is provided by the Source. Data Analyzing: Using the data available, analyzing it to identify whether the applicant falls in Current Milestone Category or the next is one of the crucial risk which requires proper procedures. .

During the execution phase, proper protocols are required so that the applicant do not sell the house while the Feds are in the process of repaying the appropriate assistance to the applicant's lender. Overlooking this scenario may lead to improper distribution of the financial assistance and may hamper the deserved applicant's chances during the next milestone.

Step 5: -- Performing the Project Closure

Once all the eligible applicants received appropriate Mortgage help and the lenders accounts were audited, the Project can be officially defined for CLOSURE.

Step 6: -- Identifying the Lessons learnt

Every Project goes through certain hurdles during its life-cycle. It's the ability of the Project Team to overcome these hurdles, focusing on the Project's Final Output, keeps the Project moving forward. Once the dust gets settled, the team can then get together and identify all the hurdles that they came across and how they could tackle it. It's the responsibility of the Senior Management to summarize these and distribute to the Middle & Junior Management as Lessons Learned during the Project's Life Cycle.

CONCLUSION:

Treating the issue of Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis as a Project makes it much transparent and easy to manage.