As mortgage professionals, even through a worldwide health pandemic, we’re very busy managing a lot of moving parts. No matter what part of the mortgage industry you work in, our industry has become heavily reliant upon technology to drive a highly efficient process that meets borrower needs and those of an increasingly large remote workforce. With a heavy reliance on technology, it comes down to technology spend decisionmakers to step back and evaluate how tech is working in their environment. Is it working with you or against you? Are you building your business strategies around your technology or on top of them? Ultimately, it comes down to this: you bought it, you got it, now what do you do with it? To effectively answer those questions, it helps to look at your relationship with the technology itself and then with the vendor to make sure your tech is working for you and not the other way around.
Your Relationship With Technology
When you are working with the same technology day in and day out, you may think you have mastered all parts of the programs and solutions. However, there is always something you can learn about your technology, your processes, and the relationship between them. If there is an area you feel it is lacking, maybe there is a capability or configuration you are unaware of that will close the gap. What you need to ask yourself is if you really know how your technology stack works holistically to facilitate your business process. If you have a documented process, take some time to map in the technology expected to facilitate the process. This can be a relatively straightforward way to clearly identify where there is misalignment, which is a giant step toward finding a solution.
Another place to conduct some soul-searching is in how expert your team members are in using the technology that is intended to help them, not raise barriers. For instance, you may be taking your anger out on your technology when really it is about making sure you are well trained and each team member fully understands how they are expected to use the tools at their disposal. Before blaming your technology, are you fully in the know about how your technology works and everything it offers? More times than not, it’s best to go back to the basics to better understand the ins and outs of your technology.
Many mortgage executives are pulled in numerous directions, which makes time precious. However, taking the time to train yourself or be trained on your technology, while it may not be ideal—especially when other projects and programs take priority—will save you a wealth of time and headache in the long run. Looking back at your tech training program, were you focused on digesting the information you received and putting it into practice, or were you merely trying to get through the training to check the box? When asked a question, can you answer it easily, or is the technology a pain point for you? Have you taken the time to map your technology to your process (or vice versa) so you truly understand the “why” behind the issue you are trying to solve? Asking yourself these questions may provide a better answer as to whether you are fully trained, have a deep understanding of your technology, and can assess the strength of your relationship with your technology to help you be as effective as possible.
Your Relationship With the Vendor
After assessing your relationship with your technology and determining where the gaps may be, it is also wise to evaluate your relationship with each of your technology vendors. Are you regularly speaking with your relationship managers to make sure you are aware of the latest enhancements and capabilities to ensure you have everything you need? Are you openly having conversations with them to discuss issues and resolve problems?
If the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” it might be time to have an open dialogue with your relationship manager to ensure there aren’t any critical pieces slipping through the cracks and that all your bases are covered. Consider starting at the beginning with a review of your expectations of your technology stack, as well as a discussion of the associated process and where there are disconnects. Information that is familiar to you may be news to your vendor. Give them the chance to understand you; everyone benefits from this type of open conversation.
You may not have the luxury of switching between vendors, so it is about making your platform work for you. Taking the time to evaluate your current offerings, determining what is working and what is not, and having those conversations with your vendor relationship manager(s) can be a bottom-line impactor. Keep in mind that it is often easier to adjust your current offerings to meet your needs rather than finding an entirely new solution.
Establishing Your Technology Roadmap
Having aligned your processes with your tech stack and strengthened your relationships with both the tech and the vendor, it is time to look to the future. What will you need to support your strategic business road map going forward? What process changes can you make to better utilize your technology and see more benefit? Do you need to seek out a new vendor to meet an emerging need or can you work with your current vendor(s) to build that roadmap?
Working alongside your existing technology vendor(s) and using your stronger relationship will help answer some of the questions you may have that can determine the longevity of the relationship. Ask your vendor for best practices and pointers to guide you toward your technology goal. All along the way, stay engaged as industry trends drive new technical options.
Relationships are at the core of the mortgage industry, including technology. By working alongside your vendor, you get the most out of your technology spend. Whether it is sitting down and evaluating your current stack, going deep on training, building a stronger relationship with your vendor, or improving your process and technology alignment, it all comes down to relationship. Once built, investment in relationships will provide benefits that can facilitate, influence, and when done well, drive innovative business strategies.