The current macroeconomic climate presents a significant challenge for the title industry. To remain competitive in today’s market, title & escrow companies must balance improving the efficiency of their operations while providing exceptional customer service. 

Title & escrow companies operate in a complex environment, catering to a diverse range of transactions, from commercial and residential purchases to refinances and REOs, across various geographies with different client requirements. To manage this complexity, title & escrow companies have long relied on legacy title production systems that require them to build custom workflows for every possible scenario during a transaction.

While this approach may work for some time—and it’s understandable why workflows were built this way—it has now become clear that this approach can lead to overly complex workflows with elaborate decision trees and poor internal efficiency. This results in a costly problem known as “workflow debt.”

Title & escrow companies can overcome these challenges by structuring their operations to support complexity in a manageable way. This post delves deeper into the concept of workflow debt, how title & escrow companies can identify it in their operations, and how they can eliminate it. 

What is workflow debt?

Workflow debt is the hidden cost that results from a complex and unmanageable schema of tasks, workflows, and automations. Legacy title production systems have traditionally supported transaction complexity by requiring that a title & escrow company map out and build the precise workflow for every single possible transaction they may encounter. 

While this may meet a title & escrow company’s operational needs for a period, over time it creates workflow debt. Building an endless number of workflows to manage complexity can lead to an unmanageable schema in the existing system, where only a few employees truly understand how they work. Relying on that level of institutional knowledge for a core function often results in operational inefficiencies that can negatively impact the business, especially if key employees are unavailable or leave altogether. Moreover, as workflow complexity increases, rigid automations, which are intended to save time, can break, and it can be challenging to pinpoint what is broken or how to fix it.

Identifying workflow debt

In some cases, title & escrow companies may have 50 or more workflows—especially if they’re completing multiple types of transactions and operating out of multiple states. For example, Orchard Title was expanding rapidly and using numerous workflows to manage operations across multiple states and cities. Their complex operational structure was expanding their workflow debt. By consolidating their workflows and building a more scalable workflow model, they were able to eliminate that debt as they built consistent operations across new and existing markets.

Support complexity with a dynamic workflow approach

To help eliminate and avoid workflow debt, title & escrow companies should consider optimizing their operations with the Workflow Framework, which was designed by a team of industry veterans at Qualia. The Workflow Framework helps companies manage complexity effectively, adapt quickly to changing market conditions, and leverage advanced technologies to improve efficiency. Instead of creating a unique workflow for every use case, title & escrow companies can use a set of “base” workflows that excludes less common variations (such as client, region, or transaction-specific actions). Not only can this make workflows simpler and more efficient, but it can also make processes easier for employees to follow.

Modern title production systems offer a more flexible and intuitive approach to workflow management than their predecessors by allowing companies to quickly adapt to new transaction types and changing market conditions. A dynamic workflow approach means that complexity is managed intelligently in the moment as new information enters the system. This approach enables title & escrow companies to support a wide range of geographies, transaction types, and general order processing complexity with just a small set of base workflows.

The platform’s base workflows are highly customizable by the title & escrow company in order to meet the needs of specific geographies, partners, and other requirements. This approach leads to a much more manageable workflow schema and fewer points of failure. This not only reduces the risk of workflow debt but also improves operational efficiency, enabling title & escrow companies to process more transactions with fewer resources.

To learn how to identify and eliminate workflow debt, speak with a Qualia expert today. 

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