Members of the title industry recently gathered at ALTA ONE in San Diego, CA amid a challenging year for the title industry. They connected with colleagues from across the country and heard from industry experts on timely topics ranging from change management to new growth opportunities. Our team had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with many title agencies at our on-site Workflow Efficiency Clinic.

During this clinic, we discussed organizational challenges and provided solutions for more efficient title production workflows. Given the enthusiastic response to the in-person clinic, we’re excited to share more of these tips. This content aims to provide title agencies with tactical advice for building more effective workflows.

Our first tip centers on how title agencies can simplify their title production workflows by creating consistent procedures for managing exceptions in their standard workflows. After advising agencies across the country on how to set up workflows, our team has seen that many title agencies complicate their processes by attempting to build out a process for each possibility. Instead, agencies can establish a solid “base” workflow that excludes less common variations (such as client, region, or transaction-specific actions). Not only can this make workflows more efficient, but it can also make processes easier for employees to follow. Continue reading to learn how to use exception management to simplify workflows and design more straightforward closing processes.

Standardizing workflows with exception management

Standardized workflows can create a strong foundation that empowers businesses to innovate and adapt as they grow. In contrast, complex workflows with elaborate decision trees often become unmanageable as businesses try to scale their operations. Complicated workflows make it more difficult for businesses to train staff, maintain reporting, and pivot strategies. To avoid this, title agencies should have a strategy for establishing a base workflow and treating tasks that aren’t base as if they’re processing exceptions. 

To create that base workflow and identify exceptions, agencies need to answer the question: How often does something need to occur for it to be part of the base workflow? For example, let’s say a Power of Attorney is only used on about 2 out of every 100 closings. If an agency includes tasks for this signing type in its base workflow, a staff member will likely have to manually delete it 98% of the time. This can result in human error and wasted time. By marking this signing type as an exception, title agencies can remove them from their base workflows and train specific staff to manage these exceptions to the base workflow when they arise. 

Title agencies can streamline closing processes to benefit their staff as well as other closing parties by removing unnecessary tasks. Title agencies can use the following exception management takeaways to evaluate their current workflows and closing tasks:

  • Establish a benchmark for exceptions. One way to define an exception is as a task that occurs less than 10% of the time. 
  • Create an exception management process. For example, situations that fit exception criteria are built out as supplementary Smart Action groups in Qualia.
  • Create an ongoing exception evaluation process. It’s tempting to think about workflow buildouts as being “done” at some point. However, title agencies can discover new variations of exceptions just when they’ve “seen it all.” With this in mind, title agencies should continually identify and discuss exceptions.
  • Build a report that flags files with exceptions to make it easier to classify more complicated files and assign the appropriate staff member. In Qualia, users can use the Pipeline Report and/or the Task Filtered Exception Report to create a list of files with exceptions. 
  • Create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for managing exceptions and regularly communicate the process to staff. 

Improving operational efficiency and client experience with powerful workflows

Today’s challenging market conditions are forcing many title agencies to evaluate their current operations to identify more efficient and cost-effective ways to satisfy SLAs and deliver a consistent client experience. Amid market uncertainty, title agencies must future-proof their operations and optimize for efficiency to achieve long-term success. As leaders strategize for the future, they should focus on the building blocks of powerful processes: workflows. 

Combining workflow optimizations with technology adoption can help businesses manage existing challenges and be prepared to take advantage of upcoming opportunities. Investing in operational improvements also empowers teams to stay competitive and quickly respond to market changes. This strategy enables tighter operations—and, ultimately, happier employees, clients, homebuyers, and sellers.

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