Outsourcing Maximizes Resources
Published in Aug?2006 Managing REO Magazine
By Robert Klein, CEO
Management personnel continually struggle to efficiently deploy resources to accomplish organizational goals and objectives.?? In order to compete most efficiently in today?s business environment, many organizations are now utilizing third parties to outsource ?non? core business activities thereby allowing management to focus on the core activities that drive the growth and revenue of an organization.?
Outsourcing ?non? core business activities eliminates the necessity for investing in hiring, training, equipping, and providing space and benefits for new employees. It provides management the flexibility to focus on core operations and new service offerings that generate revenue. There are a number of benefits to outsourcing in the mortgage loan servicing industry that deserve careful consideration, specifically in the mortgage field services function that is the focus of this article.? Potential benefits include insulation from liability, efficiencies provided through the streamlining and customization of business processes, and the ability to outsource services through the entire lifecycle of a loan to a single source provider.
Mortgage field service companies will typically assume the liability for incidents related to activities they perform.? When cleaning out debris for instance, proper handling and disposal of the mortgagor personal property can avoid potential costly litigation.??? Importantly,? the mortgage field services provider will also insulate their clients from liability incurred for the failure to adhere to rules and regulations of investors such as HUD, FHA,? and the VA. Reputable field service providers will insulate their clients from such liability saving the mortgagee the from such legal entanglements.?
When selecting a mortgage field services partner to outsource their field services function, the mortgage services company must take great care to select an organization with adequate insurance, extensive business process management capabilities, and comprehensive policies and procedures that provide adequate documentation and evidence to ensure adherence to applicable rules and regulations. Comprehensive supporting documentation that includes digital photographs and electronic field reports, adequately maintained in accordance with applicable records retention policies will ensure that risks are mitigated and liabilities minimized.
Streamlining and Customizing Processes
The mortgage industry as a whole is extremely process-oriented, making it among the most paperwork-intensive industries.? Even in today?s business environment where the use of paper is minimized through electronic content management applications, comprehensive file and business process management activities can be extensive. In order to ensure adherence to applicable rules and regulations, the potential field services outsourcing partner must demonstrate the ability to automate business activities to ensure the efficient and effective compliance with an organizations policies.? When selecting a field services partner, it is important to validate the potential partner?s ability and commitment to customize their processes to meet organizational needs. This includes:
- Business process flexibility in accepting and processing orders
- Efficiency of pricing, bid, and invoicing procedures
- The level of automation provided to facilitate real time service updates and supporting documentation
Industry practice has traditionally allowed for Orders to be placed in bulk using spreadsheets or individually via email or uploaded through a secure web site.? All orders should be acknowledged within one business day.? To maximize efficiencies, the mortgage industry has seen a material increase in the automation of business processes between Field Servicer systems and Loan Servicer systems. This greatly improves the efficiency of activities by eliminating duplicate data entry and minimizing error rates inherent in manual processes.
Likewise, receiving, reviewing, and approving invoices can be automated and streamlined for the loan servicer when the field service outsourcer? has the flexibility to? customize its billing process to integrate? with the client?s accounts payable processes.? This reduces the asset managers? work load related to invoicing, allowing them to focus more on property care quality and marketing effectiveness.?
The leading field service providers are increasingly working with their clients to expand the service offerings available to meet outsourcing needs when, where, and how required.? Examples include creative pricing structures and expanding responsibility to include servicing of the Real Estate Owned (REO) portfolio, Many times the field service provider can provide all the necessary services for a portfolio of properties more cost effectively that can be accomplished in house or through multiple service providers.
The industry has seen a marked increase in pre-established fixed fee pricing that allows for a one time fee to cover a flat-fee bundles of regular services.? These fixed fee prices can typically be negotiated based on quantity of order and/or the number of services contracted for.? Such a contractual arrangement allows the mortgagee to eliminate a repetitive and time consuming bidding process.? Exceptional cases can still call for a bid, as needed.? Opportunities exist to establish contracting formats that provide for this fixed fee? ?cradle to grave? package of services? from pre-sale to re-sale.
Many national mortgage lenders and servicers deal with thousands of properties in default.? Typically, they also manage an extensive Real Estate Owned (REO) portfolio as well. When outsourcing these activities to a third party, the field services partner is engaged early in the process to safeguard the value of the collateral before and after foreclosure until disposition. This includes maid services, cleaning, and maintaining the ?curb appeal? of the property for marketing and sale.?
As the mortgage services industry looks to the future, it is in their best interest to look closely at potential outsourcing relationships, either by evaluating the cost effectiveness of the services they currently perform in house, or by expanding the role of their current partners.? Management will do well to evaluate these potential outsourcing opportunities to ensure ongoing cost containment and revenue maximization.