MReport September 2022

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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Page 27 of 67

26 | M R EP O RT FEATURE will not) interact with, collaborate with, or even overlap with, any existing tools you plan to contin- ue utilizing. One of the biggest obstacles to a truly optimized operation is the creation of the dreaded "silo." Silos begin with a poor understanding of the vari- ous pieces of the tech stack. One more word about outside consultants. It is understood that, as you would for any service provider, you will want to thor- oughly vet your potential partner. Be aware that, at times, some consultants or consulting firms may have tried and true solutions or firms that they recommend more than anything else, no matter what. Insist that they offer you multiple solutions—even if one is clearly inferior—and mul- tiple brands and technologies. A recommendation with one option is almost as dangerous as chasing the demo. If a consultant pur- ports to have the single, universal solution to your need or does not truly hear you out as to your objectives, think about getting a second opinion. Building Up to Going Live A botched or failed "go-live," while often growing out of a lack of planning, can also come to be during the implementation period of new tech. If the entire management team is sold on the new solution, but does not put a significant effort into building buy-in at the ground level up, the tech is as good as dead from the get-go. Similarly, it is great if the leadership team is enthusiastic about a new system at the time of purchase. But they will quickly forget about it as it becomes part of the daily operation. Be sure to build in (not just the occasional check-in) a systemic feedback channel from the staff about the performance of the new system. Also make sure that management is regularly updated on the per- formance of the system as well. Management solely by spread- sheet often leads to management by exception, which is never a recipe for tech success. Consistency can also help mortgage lenders and firms avoid sunk costs in new technology. Specifically, unless specifically planned for, old systems should be sun-setted or used only as ab- solutely needed. All too often, we see frontline staff and processors reverting to a previous system, often for the sole reason that they are more familiar with it. Good, continuous, and consistent training and feedback will help the team make full use of the expensive new tool you have just invested in and help them become comfortable and profi- cient with it as well. Inconsistency or no enforce- ment of the new tech standards is an extremely effortless way to ensure that your investment never reaches its intended ROI. After all, if you have invested thousands of dollars in something designed to be an improvement over previous solutions and tools, yet allow the team to contin- ue using workarounds, hacks, and old tools, you have really just added to your production costs. To the extent possible, sunset or limit old solutions. Be clear in your expectations that the employees designated are mandated to use the new tools. Systematically monitor and enforce those expectations, and allow for regular feedback where any issues or challenges with the new tools arise. Sometimes, additional training may solve the roadblock. If not, good technol- ogy providers should always be willing to learn client challeng- es and update the technology accordingly. Finally, also keep in mind that there is no perfect plan. Perfect is the enemy of good. Some lenders go too far and attempt to opti- mize for any remotely possible contingency—even if it is utterly unlikely to happen. There has yet to be a "perfect" implemen- tation or go-live process. Yet, the road to improvement is usually incremental. The point is to have a well-reasoned plan, rather than trying to shoehorn a solution into a process it was never going to fit in the first place. It is likely that our industry will continue advancing into its "Age of Automation," especially as new and improved technol- ogies emerge and significant market pressures come to bear on operational expenses. The coming months and years will force some firms, hesitant to make a substantial investment during a period of declining revenue, to face their fears. Fortunately, the vast majority of tech failures that slow such decisions are not caused by shady sales techniques or shoddily produced systems. Instead, most botched implementations and fail- ures to go live at all start at the leadership level with a failure to implement the process using the planning and effort they normally would with any other strategic decision. JIM PAOLINO is CEO and Co-Founder of LodeStar Software Solutions, managing day-to-day operations, overseeing business development, and charting the long-term strategic direction of the company. LodeStar develops a range of compliance-driven products for the mortgage lending and title insurance industry. Jim has more than a decade of experience developing software solutions, specifically for the mortgage and title insurance space, and speaks frequently on tech trends as they relate to compliance, operational efficiency, and sales growth. It is likely that our industry will continue advancing into its "Age of Automation," especially as new and improved technologies emerge and significant market pressures come to bear on operational expenses.

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