- Consumer Info
By: Ethan Powsner, Esq., Vice President of Technology and
Market Development, Fidelity National Financial
In my meetings in the Midwest and Mid-south, I frequently see many opportunities for title agents to take advantage of their existing software to improve their workflow. If these agents could invest a few dollars in software, hardware, and some training, the immediate and long term benefits, saving time and money would be multiples of the investments made. When talking with agents about these ideas, many are concerned that the improvements in workflow are not worth the investment in software, hardware, or effort needed to implement the changes. I address that concern by reminding them about the power of compounding.
The most common thing I see is the “print-highlight-type-scan” routine, starting at order entry. The typical scenario is that the Realtor® or lender will email an order. The email is opened and the buy/sell is printed for use by order entry to input the info into, let’s say, SoftPro®. Often, order entry will highlight the key information with a marker before entering that key information into SoftPro. After the order is entered, the now-marked-up buy/sell is scanned back into the system.
At the appropriate time in my meetings, I inquire about whether it would make sense to have order entry highlight the key information on the screen using Adobe Acrobat® or other comparable (and often less expensive) .PDF software. This will save the all-in time needed for scanning, which often requires order entry to get up from their desk and go to a centralized scanner and get back to their station. The lost opportunity of leveraging technology to improve workflow appears obvious; however, for whatever reason it is hard for some to make the changes, notwithstanding that the time savings will accrue day-in and day-out.
Another area I’ve noticed lost opportunities for leveraging technology is the post-closing distribution of documents. Not infrequently, the person who is in charge of getting the post-closing documents distributed where they belong, has developed an excellent routine of taking a stack of documents, sorting them into the lender’s pile, scanning them, then restacking and re-sorting into the buyer’s pile, and then repeating the same for others—you get the picture. In this instance, the leveraging of technology requires a closer look at what the scanner can do as far as being able to label and group documents. I’ve seen agents who, when their scanner software won’t allow them due to advanced features, will use the power of Adobe Acrobat to help them electronically bookmark a stack of sorted images and then easily group – and regroup – the documents for electronic distribution.
The most interesting situation I’ve seen recently was where an agent leveraged the e-Recording process and their automated escrow account reconciliation system to eliminate the entire “pre-shredding process.” In this agency, completed and disbursed files are scanned within a day or two of closing and then put in a storage room for aging. After they have aged sufficiently, they are scheduled for shredding. Prior to shredding, the agent—in the past– would have employees do a “pre-shredding review” of the files to determine if there were any original recordings or original checks (for lien releases, etc.) still in the file folders. After implementing the e-Recording process, as well as the automated check reconciliation system, the agent determined that they didn’t need to perform that extra pre-shredding file review because unrecorded documents would be flagged by the reconciliation software via the related un-cleared e-Recording checks; likewise, un-disbursed payoff checks would be flagged as un-cleared payoffs.
While we tend to want 100% solutions, and are trained to look at new ideas or processes very closely for exceptions, when it comes to leveraging technology to improve workflow, a solution that covers 80-90% of the situations that come up regularly is worth looking into. For example, a relatively inexpensive desktop printer scanner that allows an employee to avoid getting up to walk to a centralized printer or scanner even 50% of the time is going to pay for itself in terms of fewer interruption-based errors, as well as the time savings of not getting up and down every time. Take a look around – where can you leverage your existing technology to improve your workflow?