For that the last ten years, business leaders have seen how rising loan production costs have pushed the burden of maintaining profitability onto people, processes, and margins. Today, loans cost $8,000 to produce, up from $4,200 just seven years ago. That’s why businesses continue to look for new ways to keep their margins healthy.
Business leaders have read about the underlying benefits of robotic process automation (RPA) and its ability to lower cost per loan by automating mundane, repetitive tasks and freeing up employees to perform higher-value work. They have seen RPA lowering costs and gaining momentum in areas like healthcare and manufacturing, and have even witnessed Google Assistant make a hair appointment! All of these advances aim to help you free up time and gain a competitive edge. But where do you start?
Create a roadmap
The best way to identify opportunities isn’t by thinking about technology. Instead, create a “time savings plan” with your sales and operations teams by walking through your current loan process from beginning to end. Take special notes along the chain and look for areas where tasks, paperwork, and wait times gather in pools. Waiting on a person or process to take action? Jot it down for follow-up research.
The areas you find probably include a lot of 80/20 items, where 80% is repetitive work that doesn’t vary too much and only the remaining 20% requires higher-level judgment and exception processing to complete. By finding and mapping these pockets, you can start to establish your roadmap and stake out areas for further study.
Set your priorities
Once you have cataloged these areas of opportunity, create a four-quadrant matrix and rank them according to their impact on your enterprise: effort, high to low, and time improvement, high to low. This will help the team find consensus and visualize those items that pop to the surface for maximum benefit. It will also provide clarity on finding small but achievable low-effort/high-time-improvement areas to focus on out the gate, so you can build momentum and muscle memory for the high/high categories down the road.
Engage your resources for change
Bring together your teams with IT and Project Management to create an enterprise-wide digital improvement plan and begin designing solutions based on your priorities and technology capabilities, especially for those repetitive tasks that you can automate. This journey offers a great opportunity to enhance your culture and competence in technologies (including RPA), work toward continuous improvement, explore new ways of working, invest in innovations that fit your culture, and set numeric goals to wring out waste in time and cost.
Gather your team and set the course
Look inside and outside your organization and the industry for solutions, but inside the industry for mortgage technology partners who understand the mortgage domain and RPA technologies applicable to the industry. Start small with achievable goals and measure progress in hours, costs saved, and possibly revenue gained via new products or services. As you build, consider changes that will streamline operations and better fit RPA processing, and train your staff on how to manage the new digital workforce.
There is no finish line
Perhaps a little surprisingly, adding bots to your workforce will lead to role changes for your human team members. Just like new human employees, bots will need to be trained, managed, and moved around as your business requirements evolve. So as you set up new procedures and change existing ones, you’ll need a small team of humans to keep your bots optimally trained and deployed. The cycle of discovering RPA use cases, retraining bots, and adjusting human roles is an ongoing process, and will continue to optimize business processes and improve margins year after year.
A new way to enhance your staff is here and ready to build: assign a digital assistant to perform routine and repetitive business tasks. RPA is a well-established opportunity to free up valuable staff time and enterprise expense, and direct the savings back to your bottom line. Though our industry understands that innovation is necessary, uncertainty still exists about where to start. The best way to overcome this challenge is by taking the first step.