Automation & Technology
Automation Insider: Getting the show on the road
In our last few blog posts, we introduced ways to strategize the implementation of automation into your mortgage lending workflow. Our latest eBook series, entitled Creating a Culture of Automation in Your Organization, details how to embrace and create a clear automation strategy. We now move into Part 2 of this eBook, which transitions from planning considerations to the essential steps of a successful rollout. Over the next three blog posts, we’ll discuss when it’s appropriate for your business to begin the automation execution process, who needs to be part of the rollout, and how to shift your business culture and operations.
Destination: Automation—Moving from vision to reality
In the first part of this eBook series, our experts discussed the importance of putting together a solid automation strategy—from identifying and prioritizing initiatives to developing a comprehensive change management plan. While planning is critical, without the proper execution, success cannot be guaranteed. Finding ways to launch a mortgage workflow automation initiative while your organization continues to carry on business takes teamwork and the ability to pivot when needed.
Determining the when, who and how
While it is tempting to start rolling out your automation initiative as soon as the technology is ready to go, our experts agree that timing is everything. “You don’t want to rip the bandage off and make a big change during key times of the month,” explained John Ashley, CIO, PRMG. Ashley also recommends looking at your typical loan cycle to avoid operational peaks, and working with other department heads to ensure your rollout doesn’t compete with other, unrelated initiatives that involve employee training and engagement.
Also consider vacation schedules. Rolling something out close to the holidays, during spring break, or during the summer travel season can slow adoption and add complexity to the rollout process. Not only could this affect those who may be on vacation or otherwise out of the office, it could overburden your non-vacationing staff, who are likely taking on extra work while their colleagues are away. While there is no perfect time for a rollout, put some thought into optimal rollout dates for your specific organization before diving in.
Start with a well-observed pilot
Starting small, with a controlled, and closely monitored pilot is a smart approach that can ensure a smoother rollout. “We typically pilot with an isolated group—not a full branch, but a loan officer who has a specific processor and underwriter working on all of his or her loans,” explained Margie Ambrosio, Sr. Vice President, Information Systems, George Mason Mortgage. “It’s important to keep it in a confined zone, where you’re not only getting user feedback, but going in behind the scenes to ensure all of the automation rules are working as intended.”
Our experts further recommend utilizing the same team, or teams, for the pilot that you used during the development and testing phases. That way, you have a pilot group that’s already familiar with the solution, what it looks like, and how it works. As a result, you’ll spend less time training and helping them through the process, and more time observing how things are working from a technical aspect. Run your pilot for about 30 days, depending on the complexity of the automation initiative, before continuing the rollout. This gives you ample time to fine-tune, optimize, and address any potential issues, before rolling out to the masses.
“Make sure you choose the pilot team who will not only give you the feedback you need, but will also become your greatest advocates during rollout. And, that’s not necessarily your power users,” Ambrosio said. “You want someone to say, ‘This is great; I don’t have to pull flood certificates anymore. It all happens automatically.’ You want someone who is representative of your other users, and someone they’ll respond to in a positive way.”
Roll out in phases
If you are a multi-branch mortgage lending organization—particularly if you have locations in multiple states or jurisdictions—consider rolling out your automation technology initiative in phases. “We like to go from branch to branch in two-week intervals, so, we make sure everything is working for the full population of loan types and products we offer in each,” Ambrosio said. “This also gives us the opportunity to have more personalized, smaller group trainings. We can talk up the benefits of the change while we’re sitting across the table from the users, which makes a difference.”