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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   May 2016

Customize Software to Create Your Solution

Engineers can be among the most important people at a mortgage company

The mortgage industry has been a technological holdout for decades, but that is changing — and it is doing so rapidly. A new era of technological advancement is rapidly altering an industry that has for years shuffled paper and relied on tried-and-true, but dated, business practices.

Meticulous underwriters, knowledgeable brokers and expert loan originators always will be key to mortgage operations, but software engineers are now equally changing the face, and the future, of the mortgage industry.

Consumers today demand frictionless digital interaction. That means the mortgage companies seeking to dominate the future will have to understand how to make loan processing as seamless a digital process as possible.

Industry leaders have invested heavily in software systems that have brought loan pricing, automated valuation, automated approvals, reporting dashboards and borrower communication into the 21st century. The technological advancements are not just bells and whistles; they lead to improved closing times, hassle-free document submittal and less work for business partners and customers.

Following are four lessons that the entire mortgage industry can learn from when it comes to building and customizing technology.

Never build from scratch

Mortgage processing relies heavily on customized software systems, but all of those systems started with the backbone of an existing platform. Given the time commitment and complexity, it simply does not make sense to build any software system from scratch.

That said, mortgage companies gain a competitive advantage if they can take the skeleton of an existing platform and customize it to suit their individual needs. Such an approach gives customers industry-leading technology without saddling the mortgage company with the time investment it would take to build software from the ground up.

Do not settle for simply using software systems right out of the box. Use your software engineering staff to take an existing software package and adapt its user-interface or capabilities to create your dream software solution.

Weigh software options carefully

One technological trend that is worth a critical analysis is the movement away from owning your own software and toward software as a service (SaaS) offerings. SaaS is cloud-based software, where programs are hosted on the Internet and users can access them from any browser.

For some industries, SaaS is the answer to constant updates, downloading and soft coding. It is, however, limiting. It can prove more beneficial to buy full software systems that can be housed on your own servers and can be controlled and customized as needed.

If you are considering software platforms, weigh the control and customization available in traditional software systems versus the ease of use, but inflexibility, of SaaS.

Use what you need

Every software system does something really well. Sometimes, however, software programs try to be the enterprise solution that does it all. Don’t be afraid to buy software for the one thing that it does exceptionally well, and meld together a superior collection of software programs that each function at the highest level in one aspect of your mortgage processing.

This might mean your engineering staff has its work cut out for it to make sure that multiple software packages integrate effectively, but that is a better option than using a software program that does one thing very well and tacks on a number of subpar applications to try to sell itself as an enterprise system.

Hire an in-house project manager

Mortgage companies can get their software engineering done in a number of ways, including hiring full-time engineers or contracting out engineering. Both ways can be effective, depending on your situation.

Whatever solution fits your business, however, it is critical to have a project manager in-house to manage the project and see it through to completion. Software is such a critical piece of your business that completely outsourcing it could mean the failure of a project.

According to a 2012 study by McKinsey & Co. and the University of Oxford, on average, large information- technology projects run 45 percent over budget and deliver 56 percent less value than predicted. An in-house project manager will help you stay on budget, on track and assure that your project does not suffer the same dour fate of many major technology initiatives.

Your technology is too important to the success of your business not to have a full-time project manager shepherding your important software projects until they are fully implemented. Make sure you assign one person the responsibility of overseeing deadlines and organization to make sure that your software project is implemented and does not end up in limbo.


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