March/April 2020 Issue

Collaboration For Tech Success: Operations And Technology

The mortgage industry has long understood the technology benefits of improving processes, saving money and assisting in building lasting relationships with borrowers. Even with the advancements we have adopted, the issue of building or buying technology without significant input from those who use that technology (operations) is still prevalent. The result can be a catastrophic waste of time and money.

Before the company IT department automates processes, it is important to get feedback and input from those who will use the technology to determine what should be implemented and how it will affect existing processes. Often, those users are in operations.

Implementing technology without consulting operations or other business users inevitably leads to friction because everyone has a different viewpoint. IT divisions will look at a situation differently than the operation or business divisions.

When IT folks are overzealous and develop or implement technology without understanding operation’s pain points fully, it sets the stage for technology “over-engineering” or blindly automating processes without regard for the need to keep some level of human contact in the process.

That’s understandable. After all, automation takes a repeatable process and improves it without consideration of information other than what has been placed in the system. Sometimes, we get so excited about the technology that we forget to include the human component. This is not always the best approach for a company and could actually slow down a process. There are areas in a process that can benefit from the 100% use of technology, such as number crunching. In other areas, like underwriting or sales, a lack of human touch can actually slow down the process.

The lack of synergy between IT and operations can also lead to technology being implemented but not used to its full potential despite training. The more pieces to the puzzle, the more challenging it is to implement, especially if it doesn’t address users’ issues satisfactorily from day one.  

If operations and IT executives are engaged in the technology decision and implementation from day one, there will be little if any of the aforementioned friction.  

Righting IT Post-Launch

There is still a way to rebound from a technology implementation gone awry and get everyone on the same page. It will require more outreach on both parts in order to right the ship.

  1. Step back and acknowledge there is an issue. Evaluate what you have in place and accept that the issue might be the technology or it might be a misunderstanding or misuse of it.
  2. Determine the true issue before doing anything else. Then look at what the next step is.
  3. Develop a plan and determine what the next steps should be. Be it retraining, adjustments to the current system or the nuclear option to rollback and rebuild, ensure both IT and business management are on board.

Any of the approaches have resource implications that should be considered. Whatever the decision, learn from the situation and make sure to bring all stakeholders together the next time technology is being considered. Uncovering and resolving issues during development is preferable to scrambling after the fact any day.