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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   February 2012

Find Savings by Going Paperless

Electronic document management provides numerous benefits

Mortgage companies are increasingly making use of electronic document-management systems — and with due cause. Improved efficiency can enhance loan-processing time and help reduce administrative costs.

But that’s just the beginning of the benefits that going paperless can provide. More specifically, mortgage professionals should consider how a paperless office can bolster their company’s security, improve customer service, permit more effortless compliance and deliver a multitude of financial savings.

Cost benefits

There are several factors that influence the overall cost of creating a paper loan file. The most obvious cost is the production of the file itself.  You typically have costs for paper, folders, file fasteners, dividers and toner.  With all of these factors considered, if your company’s average loan file is 250 pages, then your business may spend as much as $13 to create a single file.

Now factor in the cost of storing paper loan files in your office. According to a report from Cassidy Turley, the average asking rent for office space in the U.S. was $21.39 per square foot this past third quarter. If you consider the size and number of individual filing cabinets your company owns and, for that matter, if you consider how many loan files your company stores, it’s easy to estimate just how much money your business is spending per foot to simply store its paper materials. If your company produces only 10 loan files per month, the total cost of production and storage adds up fast.

Mortgage professionals also should consider the less obvious costs associated with producing and storing paper loan files. Consider, for instance, the cost of your printers’ maintenance, shredding services and any courier fees that you may incur for shipping files. All of these expenses can increase the monthly costs associated with producing and storing a paper loan file.

Further, you must take into consideration the time it takes employees to search through filing cabinets and find specific documents. How long will it take an employee to walk to the records room, uncover a specific document in a filing cabinet, create a duplicate of that file, deliver the copy to the intended recipient and then re-file the original? That time adds up each day, as do the actual costs to your business.

By going paperless and using document-management software, your staff can be more productive and more cost-effective in their use of time. This software also typically includes search functions that enable employees to find and send loan documents immediately.

Customer service

Easy digital access to loan documents also can make an enormous difference in the quality of your business’ customer service. For instance, when speaking on the phone with clients who have questions about their loan files, digital documents allow you to retrieve file information in seconds and immediately resolve concerns. In many cases, a document can even be e-mailed to a client almost instantaneously.

Going paperless also allows mortgage professionals to work with remote partners and to access records online without needing to e-mail or fax every document. Furthermore, most document-management software can be integrated with other systems, which makes it easy to combine document-management software with other programs you already use.

Regardless of the exact functionality it might eventually take, if you’re looking for a document-management system, then you must ensure it addresses your business’ needs and is not too complicated for employees to use. The goal, after all, is to remain as productive as possible and to make the transition to a paperless office nearly effortless.

Natural disaster and security

Bearing potential cost benefits in mind, mortgage professionals also should consider the number of paper records that could be destroyed in a natural disaster. If a destructive fire or hurricane strikes, there can be a devastating price to pay if your office uses paper files. With electronic data, however, mortgage professionals can be better prepared to face the outcomes of a disaster.

Paperwork stored electronically is often encrypted and saved on redundant, secure servers. Locked filing cabinets, however, are more vulnerable to being accessed by someone who’s not authorized. In a paperless office, several levels of security can be added to stop unauthorized access of sensitive material.

The ability to set individual and position-based security parameters is critical in document-management software. You should be able to give access to files and documents based on individual permissions. In addition, users without assigned permissions on the file cannot access it at all. A good security feature within document-management software is the ability to track when a given file was last accessed and who accessed it. Having the option to use hosted document-management software also can greatly reduce your risk, so you wouldn’t have to maintain your own servers and backup procedures.

Placing security and permissions on files can even help your company meet business-compliance requirements. Mortgage professionals must abide by laws that require specific procedures and processes in regards to handling and protecting consumer data — for example, companies need be able to show that their information is unaltered to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Using document-management software can help you establish strict processes that will help you stay compliant in case of an audit.

• • •

Managing your documents in a traditional paper environment can be a time-consuming and costly process. It pulls you away from other activities and occupies your time with less important tasks like searching for paper documents, faxing or mailing.

In a paperless office, however, all of your documents are only a few clicks away, with a vast potential for increasing your productivity.


 


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