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Among the countless advantages of automation, few are valued as highly as excess capacity. By reducing staff time associated with repetitive tasks, improving workflow and monitoring or analyzing the state of the industry and their firms, mortgage bankers have the opportunity to handle more and different tasks with the same employee base.

Excess capacity, the result of many different technologies, is a worthy goal. With it, firms obtain a growth orientation. Middle- and upper-level managers begin to focus on new lines of business, rather than the existing ones. When clerical level employees can pool their talents to advance any stated goal of the mortgage banking organization, then the result can be new products and services. The whole orientation of excess capacity is a bright outlook for an organization. By positioning for success through enhanced volume, mortgage bankers learn to treat their current lines of bueiness in the most effective manner possible.

Once in the success mode, employees become even more productive and deliver additional capacity, transforming excess capacity into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Employees and managers, once expected to do more, are an outstanding barometer of the work environment. People challenge themselves to exceed their own production. Those who are able to learn new lines of business due to automation often realize a benefit more beneficial than a pay raise.

Excess capacity is delivered by technology through three means. The ability to achieve higher volumes in existing task performance per employee is the primary means by which capacity is enhanced. For example, if a task can be automated to perform 150 times per shift instead of 100 times, the company has achieved 50 percent excess capacity for that taks. If the goal is to keep staffing at the same level, more transactions (more loans) can be handled.

The second means for achieving enhanced capacity is through a broader range of tasks being performed by a group of employees. When technology becomes widely present in the back office, it can guide employees through difficult tasks, or those where rule knowledge is generally necessary for satisfactory completion. If the computer system can deliver instructions to assist judgment or data entry, then employees with a lower level of job-specific training can performt he task. Collections staff can enter initial loan application onto a system, or vice versa. The level of employee integration is at the discretion of top management. The more one department or person can fill in for others, the greater the company's ability to incorporate larger volumes of business into its workflow.

Finally, excess capacity delivers by performing many repetitive recordings, calculations, and analyses done by humans. Although error checking and supervisory escalation procedures (when the computer doesn't understand something) need to be in place, most of today's systems are capable to carrying out their tasks in an unattended fashion. The computer itself allows more records to be worked on in a given time period. In addition, employees who used to perform the functions being automated can deliver additional capacity to the firm by working on other tasks.

A question often asked is: which of the technologies available today give the greatest excess capacity? Though the results are usually determined by how systems are applied, certain automation methods lend themselves towards deliverance of capacity. These range from high-tech hardware to operational scheduling. Three advantageous technologies areL advanced communications, imaging workflows and company-wide systems integration.

Communications software allows mortgage bankers to gather information from many sources. Whether these be branches or divisions of their own organization or business partners in affiliated industries, electronically transmitted information is far more valuable, because it does not have to be printed out, mailed, keyed in and then uploaded. By transferring data from system to system, sources of error and delay are removed from the process. By cutting current functions from the data-transfer process, mortgage bankers are free to do more, in the same amount of time.

Imaging workflows provide the advantages of a broader range of task performance, with higher overall volumes of work. When an image is presnted side by side with data and a user-firnedly screen for input, the time per transaction and variety of transactions is greatly increased. Systems integration is of great value to mortgage bankers as well. When data only needs to be entered once, and is then available to all, errors and keying time are reduced. Both of these operational reductions allow for existing staff to be more productive.

These technologies deliver excess capacity at a price. The returns are long standing, however, and especially so when you consider the value of new business. When it is part of a complete technological plan for an organization, excess capacity can be cheaply purchased. Good workflow design and the custom fit of a system to the needs of the corporation and the user deliver effectiveness and efficiency. Aided by technology, the ability to expand existing lines of business or delve into new ones is a goal worth considering.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:achieving enhanced capacity in mortgage banking through automation
Author:Hershkowitz, Brian
Publication:Mortgage Banking
Article Type:column
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Previous Article:Secondary Mortgage Market Basics.
Next Article:Secondary market.

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