Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank Helps Fuel Growth
An interview with David Birkins, COO
Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank collaborates with public and private partners to finance infrastructure projects that advance the economy and create jobs in Rhode Island. Since 1989, they have provided over $2.2 billion in financing, with over $150 million invested in various projects in 2019. They currently have $1.7 billion in assets.
The Bank lends to Rhode Island municipalities and other entities to fund large infrastructure projects including drinking water, clean water, municipal roads and bridges, and energy efficiency and renewable and other initiatives. They have used EnABLE since 2017.
“Everything is contained within a flexible software solution that was specifically designed to make our operations more efficient and effective.”
Interview Questions and Answers
Mr. Birkins: We primarily use EnABLE for end-to-end loan management and related accounting and reporting processes. Our lending is somewhat cyclical, tied to the construction season, and complex with coordinating the various capital sources used to fund the loans, including Federal, State, and private-sector funds. We can access all client, project, loan and funding source information through EnABLE and it interacts seamlessly with our general ledger.
We transitioned to EnABLE from an entirely manual Excel-based system. Now everything is contained within the EnABLE platform, which was specifically designed to enhance productivity, increase efficiency, and improve data management and reporting.
While we have a relatively large balance sheet and many clients and projects, we have a modest staff. Deploying EnABLE when we did enabled us to maintain our headcount while significantly expanding the Bank’s loan programs and operations.
Mr. Birkins: As I noted, we can do a lot more with essentially the same resources with EnABLE. We also use EnABLE’s compliance module, which tracks loan covenants on every loan. In the past, this would have been a time-consuming manual task. EnABLE automates all of it.
The reporting functions are also important and highly efficient. Our ability to quickly produce accurate program information is extremely important to internal staff and management, as well as for our financial advisors and other partners. An information request that might have taken days to produce before we adopted EnABLE, now can be completed in a few minutes. Prior to the implementation of EnABLE, our monthly reports took multiple days to create…now they are pre-programmed, accurate, and ready with the click of a mouse.
We are also seeing other ancillary benefits as EnABLE helps us unlock the value of our data. We can look at trends and easily make projections for various elements of portfolios of loans and funding sources, including debt. We have new and value-enhancing visibility into our portfolios and the communities we serve.
Mr. Birkins: Around 175 people use our EnABLE system, including bank employees, clients, and partners. Our regulatory partners, including the Departments of Environmental Management, Health, Transportation, and Energy Resources have direct access to EnABLE.
We have 60 clients with 150 separate contacts accessing our EnABLE platform. That makes applications, requisitions, approvals, and disbursements very easy for everyone. From an automation perspective, this is highly efficient for all concerned. All of this is automated, including payment reminders. Everyone finds EnABLE intuitive and easy to use.
Mr. Birkins: Before EnABLE, our associates worked more in traditional “silos,” with people handling their assigned loan programs, clients, and projects. EnABLE has strongly supported our ability to shift to a more progressive management structure with strong focus on customer engagement and loan management and servicing providing a support role. We have gone through a metamorphosis of sorts, and while the Bank is better for that, our clients are the ultimate beneficiaries in terms of breadth of programs and quality of our service. It is not an overstatement to say that EnABLE has been instrumental in helping us make this transformation.
Mr. Birkins: There are several modules in EnABLE, some of which we are still exploring. For instance, some of our programs function more like grants and EnABLE has a grant module which we have recently started to utilize. Apart from what I have already mentioned, I would say EnABLE’s flexibility is impressive. It can do virtually every program – or client-specific task exactly as we need it.
Mr. Birkins: This is what differentiates TechPG from other vendors– I have said that to many people. It is amazing to me that we can call or email any time and get immediate help. While we can work through most issues with the aid of the comprehensive user guides, it is nice to know that the TechPG staff is always there for us.
During the deployment of EnABLE, the TechPG team worked with us to adapt the system for how we wanted to operate and made sure we were up and running perfectly. Every time we interact with TechPG we have further evidence of how service is supposed to work. It is just a wonderful partnership.