Qualia’s Strategic Sales Engineer, Ryan Beauchamp (aka “Beach”) works with hundreds of title & escrow organizations to identify efficiency-driving solutions for their businesses. Through this work, Beach has identified three main strategies to increase efficiency: universal process adjustments, training, or software changes. Often, it’s a combination of the three that yields the best results.
Beach conducts operations and technology audits with large scale title and escrow companies. His work generally yields insights that can save businesses valuable time and ultimately, result in notable cost savings.
We sat down with Beach to hear about his auditing process and his practical advice for title & escrow leaders to uncover inefficiencies in their own businesses.
Identify your reasons for an efficiency audit
Before conducting a business operations audit, Beach believes it’s important for businesses to ground themselves in their reasons for discovering efficiency gains. He has found that these reasons can help guide businesses toward the right solutions and help them prioritize which efficiency opportunities to approach more aggressively. A few reasons may include:
- Manage fluctuations in volume more effectively
- Grow more quickly
- Reduce operational costs
- Improve processing speed
Build an efficiency audit plan
To uncover operational inefficiencies, Beach conducts a detailed audit of the processes used by the company’s various business units and offices. The audit planning usually comprises 6 steps:
- Break down the operation based on business units and document the number of different role types
- Document the number of processes used across offices
- Catalogue the various operational roles (e.g. a processor) and support roles (e.g. a trainer)
- Document the number of processes and handoffs (between different roles) for each product line (Refinance vs. purchase, etc.)
- Document how these handoffs are managed (via email, in-person, etc.)
- Chart the amount of time it takes to onboard a new employee in each role type or office
From this process alone, many times low hanging fruit are identified right out of the gate. Otherwise, this initial planning allows the auditor to schedule time with each role for a few hours of shadowing. “The goal is to evaluate the entire process from receipt of an order to post-closing. Then we look at every step of the process and how it could be accomplished more efficiently,” he said.
The first rule for discovering inefficiencies: never assume
“Oftentimes, leaders assume that their employees are following processes that were given to them from the top down,” Beach said. “In reality, human nature inevitably kicks in and processes break down. People are just trying to get their job done. Therefore they may or may not be adhering to the prescribed processes in place.”
For Beach, the first step in any audit is to make sure the processors he shadows feel comfortable to share what they are actually doing day-to-day versus what they’ve been told to do. “I make sure the processors know that their honesty is a critical component of the audit process,” he said. “In other words, I let them know that anything they’ve done to circumvent a standard process is recognized as an attempt to be more efficient, and not as a fault on their end.”
The audit process: uncovering opportunities
During an audit, Beach sits with individuals from each department and follows along with them step-by-step as they work through their day-to-day processes and tasks. “For each step of the process we ask ‘why’ and document responses,” he said. “We look at every single step and examine whether there is a process change, training adjustment, or automation that could make it more efficient.”
Through this process, Beach pinpoints different tasks that could be automated, processes that may be opening up a business to vulnerabilities, and where extra steps are being taken that could be reduced. “This process is not always black and white,” Beach said. “You have to think abstractly about where technology can step in to let computers do what computers are good at and humans do what humans are good at. There’s often some pride and emotion attached to that.”
In other words, individuals are often wary of going through an audit because they will need to confront shortcomings in processes they may have generated themselves. It can be a vulnerable process. The auditing process requires everyone involved to throw away their pride to identify true insights.
A FEW COMMON SCENARIOS THAT BEACH FREQUENTLY SEES OPPORTUNITIES FOR EFFICIENCIES ARE:
- Taking multiple steps to get information over to a vendor or partner when one step (or an automation) could suffice
- Workarounds and crutches (many of which were created a long time ago and now feel natural) that could be made more efficient
- Rekeying information several times across different documents and systems
- Jumping from multiple technologies and systems to complete tasks
- Fragmented task sharing where instead a task could be completed globally as a single department (e.g. communicating wires from a centralized accounting team)
Once inefficiencies are identified, the next step is to assign solutions. Again, Beach groups these solutions into three categories:
- Process adjustments: In general, process changes result in macro efficiencies. These are sweeping, global changes that often require more time to rollout as well as training.
- Training improvements: Training is used to alleviate points in the process that are resulting in errors to files. It’s where a business is losing money due to lack of knowledge or mistakes that are costing businesses time and money to correct. (to read
- Software changes: These are opportunities for quick wins and micro efficiencies. This is one of the lowest hanging fruits for many organizations and where businesses can save quite a bit of time and money before instituting major process changes or training programs that may take more time.
Beach noted that solutions are often a combination of the three. He also cautioned that many people confuse process solutions and software solutions. “Most people have been on their systems for so long that they don’t realize an inefficiency is truly a limitation of the software and not a problem with the process,” he said.
Put a plan in action
Once the solutions are outlined, Beach walks his clients through which tasks and processes can be adjusted today and which the business should prepare to take action on in the future. He then helps them identify how much they are willing to invest in solutions. “Oftentimes you can find big wins, with small changes.” he said.
If you’re interested in working with Qualia to identify opportunities for efficiency in your business, click below to schedule a call with a Qualia Specialist.