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Washington Mutual Places its FOCUS on Technology To Streamline its Property Management

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 2, 2003--Washington Mutual's (NYSE:WM) Corporate Property Services (CPS) has adopted a new Internet-based tool, known as FOCUS, which will enable it to track its design and construction projects more efficiently. The company expects management time on such projects will be cut by as much as 20 percent.

One of the nation's leading retailers of financial services, Washington Mutual is believed to be among the first in its industry to use the project management program, which is based on the Building/Center basic software developed by Bricsnet/FM, of Novato, Calif.

The Building/Center software is an Internet-based program that enables property managers, corporate real estate personnel and others to view, share and update information from a single database. The software is one of several technologically advanced management innovations that CPS has adopted in the past year.

Washington Mutual's own Technology Solutions Group customized the software within the Building/Center suite to create FOCUS. The Washington Mutual team partnered with CB Richard Ellis' Strategic Technology Solutions Group as the project integrator to ensure success of the project design and implementation. Together, the Washington Mutual-CB Richard Ellis team re-engineered business processes in order to maximize use and end-user benefit of the integrated technology platform. This included the development of new workflows, customized training procedures and reports.

"Everyone in real estate is grappling with how to automate and digitize the management process, and Washington Mutual has certainly become one of the leaders in the industry," said Peter Pike, publisher of a website real estate newsletter and a real estate industry observer. "Real estate is a high relationship business and when one introduces technology and broad access to information, you introduce a major cultural change in the business."

In development for 14 months, FOCUS provides a single source for accessing and managing the design, construction and budgeting of any new design and construction project, whether it is reconfiguration of existing office space or building a new structure. To get this kind of information previously, one had to go to multiple sources, such as personal spreadsheets and reports on the desks of individuals involved in the project.

"We believe FOCUS will enable us to manage projects in 20 percent less time, which translates into money saved," said Bob Anderson, first vice president, CPS, design and construction. "We expect to see lower design and construction costs, more accurate completion dates and cross discipline reporting that was never before possible." FOCUS can be used from the time a new project is requested until the space is completed and operational, and it can also be used to manage ongoing repair and maintenance projects.

Washington Mutual has grown rapidly in recent years, and this growth necessitated technological improvements in our management processes, Anderson noted.

In addition to FOCUS, Washington Mutual's CPS team has also adopted transaction management software, handheld computers for gathering information about building characteristics, and online CAD drawings of most of the company's administrative properties so they are accessible to anyone who needs them.

"We've made a quantum leap in how our employees work," said Kent Wiegel, senior vice president, CPS. "They have more information and tools than they have ever had, and it is going to dramatically improve the way we do business."

The adoption of these new tools required retraining and, in the case of FOCUS, re-engineering of policies, procedures and workflow, according to Wiegel. "Employees will now have access to online tools necessary for each step of the project as well as standardized data they need to do their jobs." For the first time, project information can also be accessed online by consultants, architects, contractors and vendors.

FOCUS will also be used by CB Richard Ellis, which manages 3,900 buildings representing more than 23.5 million square feet for Washington Mutual. Together, they are jointly responsible for nearly 2,500 new Washington Mutual construction and real estate projects a year.

Employees of both companies have undergone intensive training in the use of FOCUS under the direction of Darryl Sink & Associates, of Monterey, Calif. Sink also wrote the FOCUS training manual.

About WaMu

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of consumer financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and small- to mid-sized businesses. At March 31, 2003, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $276.97 billion. The company currently operates more than 2,500 consumer banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking, consumer finance and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at www.wamu.com.


    CONTACT: Washington Mutual
             Libby Hutchinson, 206/461-2484
             libby.hutchinson@wamu.net

    SOURCE: Washington Mutual