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Guest Blog: When it comes to operational excellence, there's no room for cutting corners

  •  By Ellie Mae

By: Tom Knapp, CIO, Waterstone Mortgage

With everything that has come our way in 2020, you’re not alone if you’re caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to deciding where to invest your time, manpower and resources. As you plan for 2021, I encourage you to ask yourself if now is the right time to expand your focus beyond closing loans and driving business.

Many lenders are choosing to prioritize implementing a data strategy across their organizations now in anticipation for whatever lies ahead in the new year. In my personal experience, investing in data and analytics technology has allowed my business to gain a 360 view into all aspects of our operations. 2021 is a make-or-break year for getting your technology in place to be competitive in the coming cycle. That is the imperative, ignore at your peril.

If you’re planning on investing in data and analytics next year too, here are a few factors to consider that helped me when I started my data and analytics journey.

In terms of operational excellence, there are no shortcuts. 

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining Kingman Tang, Senior Product Marketing Manager for ICE Mortgage Technology for an Insightful Coffee Break. We had a lively discussion on what operational excellence looks like, strategies for how lenders can get the most out of their data, and of course, Christmas sweaters (it is that time of year after all!).

One thing we spoke about that truly resonates with me and also struck a chord with our fellow Coffee Break participants, is the fact that there is a lot that goes into developing a strong data solution. In order to gain visibility into every facet of your business and have real-time insights that you can confidently rely on, up-front investment is essential. But with so much to consider, it can be difficult to know how to get started.

In response to one of our poll questions, 62% of participants revealed that the top barriers preventing them from deploying a data and analytics solution were a lack of IT resources, combined with too many competing obligations. Other barriers that were mentioned included integration requirements, implementation expenses and internal adoption challenges. If any of these barriers resonate with you, fear not! With a solid foundation in place, you can build the comprehensive data solution you need. The first step is to take action.

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. 

From a business perspective, having a strong, reliable data infrastructure in place at Waterstone Mortgage helped us get a birds-eye view into how branches are performing. We built pricing exception reports to achieve a new kind of visibility, where we could drill down at a more granular level to view key metrics and KPIs for each branch in a reliable, timely fashion.

The goal is to get to a place where you can trust the data.

The ability to dig underneath the surface and look at your data as a source of truth is the ultimate demonstration of operational excellence. Measuring the impact of your performance, decisions, and accomplishments enables you to take appropriate action swiftly on a day-to-day basis.

A helpful place to start is Ellie Mae Insights. I refer to Insights often to see where Waterstone Mortgage compares with our competition and then I use that data to take a closer look at our strategy based on where we stand. This helps ensure that we’re not only in lockstep with the industry, but also on track to reach our business goals.

Thank you for taking some time out of your day to hear my perspective and I’m looking forward to sharing another cup of coffee with you at a future Coffee Break.

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