The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canada’s national housing agency, is driven by the principle that homes help people participate more fully in society, from pursuing an education to staying employed.
That principle inspired the organization’s ambitious goal: By 2030, everyone in Canada has a home that they can afford and that meets their needs.
How? CMHC stabilizes the housing market in many ways, such as by protecting lenders in case of defaults and ensuring the availability of mortgage funding, through economic downturns and periods of growth.
Via its main lines of business—mortgage loan insurance, affordable housing, securitization and policy and research—CMHC supports a steady housing supply, serving local governments, lenders and developers. CMHC also plays a key role by providing borrowers with required mortgage loan insurance if they have a hard time coming up with a full 20% down payment.
But its noble goal was in danger of never being reached. Outdated systems and processes prevented CMHC from adapting to the digital age and limited the effectiveness of its employees.
For example, the agency had nearly 1,000 software applications—one for every two of its 1,900 employees! And many of those were customized and hard to maintain. Employees struggled with siloed information and slow productivity. In fact, the primary job duties of one in six CMHC employees was manipulating and consolidating data sets rather than making business decisions.
"We knew we were falling behind, but as a government-owned company with a leading market position, we were complacent about modernization," says former CMHC CEO Evan Siddall. "After years of failed attempts to improve our processes and systems in incremental steps, we had arrived at a place of clarity: digitize or surrender."