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Tips on Going Paperless for Servicers

MAY 7, 2013 10:59am ET
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Efficiency plays a vital role in helping to grow an organizationís profitability, yet many servicers still use outdated paper-based filing systems that are expensive to maintain, prone to error and hurt profitability.

In the modern world, paper documents are an obstacle between servicers and their own potential competitiveness.

Those who want to be successful can follow some basic steps to reduce their use of paper and experience a higher level of internal efficiencies to boost profitability.

1.† Start with a plan

The first step is to develop a comprehensive plan that ensures minimal disruption to the organization as well as the staff. Start off by conducting an audit of what types of documents your company uses and how files are organized. Also, determine important identification characteristics on your documents, such as loan number, investor, borrow name, etc.

Employees are an important part of your plan and vital to the success of going paperless so be sure to make the transition as easy as possible and communicate with them early and often. Provide employees with training sessions and offer additional ongoing educational options.

This helps make people more confident about the new procedures involved with going paperless and reduces the traditional fear of something new. Find employees who are enthusiastic and give them a major role for executing the plan. For example, a secretary can maintain a running list of files that are no longer needed.

2.† Go paperless at your own pace

You do not have to scan every document from the past 10 years. Scan what you need and archive the rest. The average company only uses 5% to 10% of its archived records so do not let a large backlog of paper slow down your implementation. Over time you can convert your older records by outsourcing that process to a scanning bureau or delegating it to temps or interns.

3.† Scanning options

Consider buying a scanner with built in Optical Character Recognition, which will give you the ability to scan documents into searchable PDF files and retrieve documents using any word contained on the page. Also, a high-volume, double-sided scanner with multiple paper sizes should meet the needs of most companies.

4.† Choose a document management system

Organizations use document management systems to store and manage electronic images of their documents. Deciding on a document management system is a critical part of the process of going paperless. Many organizations are now using Software as a Service products which can be implemented immediately without any IT involvement.

This enables you and your clients to quickly and securely access important documents from any location in real time. It also eliminates the need to send documents through unsecure channels like email, while keeping an audit trail on who accessed the document.

The system should also be cross-browser compatible so that users can log in from any browser, such as Firefox, Safari, Chrome or Internet Explorer and use any device, smartphone, laptop or desktop and have the same quality experience.

To stay competitive servicers need to educate themselves on the options for a transition to a paperless workplace as well as plan out how their current paper-based organization and processing works today.

The journey to become paperless takes time and effort but those servicers that are interested in improving productivity and achieving cost savings have a clear path that others have already completed.

Steve Wiser is CEO of Cleveland-based Specialized Business Software, a provider of custom software solutions for insurance, mortgage and financial services companies.

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