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Fri, 11/30/2012

By Austin Kilgore

Software companies are finding the that best way to develop their mortgage technology is to use it themselves.

When Tim Anderson recently accepted a position at doc prep and compliance software provider Document Systems Inc., he did something he’s never done before in more than 30 years working in the mortgage industry—he e-signed his offer letter.“When I was hired, I got an email invite with a secure link to view and click-to-sign my offer letter right then online,” he said. “I executed it and printed off a copy for myself locally and the original is stored for posterity for both parties to view and refer back to at any time. It was great and just so much easier.”

Torrance, Calif.-based DSI is one of a few technology developers that use the software it offers to lenders and servicers. The same proprietary electronic signature engine behind DocMagic, its flagship doc prep and e-delivery platform, is used internally to enable e-signed customer contracts, employment offer letters and any other document requiring a signature.“The reality is we use it because it’s so efficient. It speeds the process up so much when everything stays electronic,” said DSI President Dominic Iannitti.“I can’t tell you how often in this day and age you’ll get a PDF agreement and you print it out, read it, mark it up and send it back,” he continued. “Then they print it out, mark it up and send it back. And after you finally get something that you can use, you print it out again, sign it, scan it and throw the paper away and they get it on their end, print it, sign it, scan it and throw it away.”

“With the way technology is today, you’re literally wasting more paper, depending on how your workflow works,” he said.Anderson, who works remotely from his home in Jacksonville, Fla., said the increased demand from staff who want to work remotely makes e-sign technology critical.

“With everybody on the Internet and everybody being more virtual now, if you want the best talent, it’s getting harder and harder to get all the people you want and need in the same centralized location,” he said. “If you want to get the best talent you have to extend the employee pool and opportunities across a wider area and you’ve got to have a way to execute and exchange documents quickly and more securely.”

By nature of the software they provide, companies like DSI and business management and intelligence platform developer Motivity Solutions are in a unique position to practice what they preach.

“Most systems are built for a specific purpose, like a loan origination system is built to track and monitor loan origination,” said Motivity CEO Tyler Sherman. “Our system can be configured under the hood to monitor any piece of data.”

Motivity’s executive team is flush with mortgage industry veterans who rely on their expertise to provide a configuration of Movation that includes dashboards, reports and scorecards for lenders to monitor performance across multiple systems.“

The loan origination and point of sale systems, accounting and back-end spreadsheets from investors all reside in disparate systems,” Sherman said. “We’ve been able to take all of that and tie it together to give lenders better insight and let them improve efficiencies by automating processes and tasks.”

But Movation is industry agnostic and can be configured for any business. And as Denver-based Motivity has grown since it first came to market in 2009, Sherman said the company realized that it needed to improve its internal processes.“

We looked at our own software and said this is probably the best tool for us to run our own company,” he said.

Motivity’s internal version of Movation integrates its customer-relationship management and workflow software with Team Foundation Server, a Microsoft tool that helps track software development tasks, and Zendesk, the platform it uses to manage its help desk.

Operations are divided into projects, each with a set of tasks. Movation curates data from the disparate systems and provides task routing to employees based on their skill set and workload. “The system automatically knows if you have capacity or not as far as your workload as an individual employee,” Sherman said.

Managers use dashboards and reports that score employee performance and highlight pain points or other issues that need to be addressed. Motivity clients are also provided with individual dashboards customized to provide automated status updates for projects and help desk tickets.“

They have better insight into what we’re doing for them without having to actually call us,” Sherman said.

He estimates that Motivity has experienced a 30% to 40% gain in efficiency from using its software, based on tasks completed per employee. The configuration has been refined over the past two years and has been exclusively running operations for six months.“

In the simple act of measuring something, it typically improves by 10%. When people know they’re being measured on something, they’re going to do a better job on it,” he said. “The simple fact that we’re providing transparency and accountability gives an uptick in efficiencies for every organization that we roll our software out to.”

By using their own products, the software executives believe they’re setting an example for how the mortgage industry should use technology.“

If we can’t use it to run our company and be more efficient, how can we expect other people to do that?” Sherman said. “It was a goal for us to show that we’re a software company and we’re using our software to efficiently run our business.”

Iannitti agreed. “We have a responsibility to help this industry go paperless and before we can relax and feel as though we’ve accomplished our goal, we’re going to get there,” he said. “Our thought was, gosh, if we’re not using it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to expect other people to use it.”

DSI has been using e-sign internally for more than two years, coinciding with its release of a free, Web-based e-sign platform for anyone who wants to use it. Users upload a PDF and tell the software where digital signatures need to be go.

When the document’s ready to be signed, the recipient receives an email with a secure link. The signer selects a font to digitally sign and date the form or alternatively, uses a finger to create a digital signature on the touchscreen of a tablet or smartphone. Iannitti said all actions are logged and once a document is signed, it can’t be tampered with.“

We’ve really made it simple and we designed it so it’s easy,” he said. “It really is very simple to take a PDF and prep it and say sign here and ship it on it’s way.”

By using their own technology, the companies have also opened up new customer channels. DSI is working on a professional version of its e-sign platform that will allow users to save custom forms they regularly use and create custom internal documents as well.“

We’ve had a lot of interest from people in other industries, like the medical and insurance industries, asking us about setting up systems for them and there’s a lot of interesting things in the works with that,” Iannitti said.

For Motivity, Sherman said using its own platform to manage its mortgage technology operations has piqued the interest of fellow software developers.“

We’ve actually had talks with other vendors and they’re excited about how we’ve created a tool that helps us be more efficient and they’re very interested in doing the same types of things that we are,” he said. “That’s opened up another channel for us, so not just selling to lenders, but to vendors as well.”

As featured by Mortgage Technology Magazine, December 2012