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Automation Insider: 7 must-haves for effective change management

  •  By ICE Mortgage Technology

In our last blog, we explored the steps required to implement automation into your mortgage lending workflow. Our latest eBook series, entitled Creating a Culture of Automation in Your Organization, details how to embrace and create a clear automation strategy. In this blog, tapping into Part 1 of this series, we outline the components of an effective change management plan, and how this can successfully shift your internal culture toward adopting automation.

Building your change management plan

Most people hear the word “automation” and immediately start worrying that a machine is going to take their job. Not only does this misconception create unnecessary stress, it may even cause your best people to start polishing their resumes. That’s where a good change management plan comes in. Here, our experts share key points for effective change management related to automating the mortgage lending workflow.

1. Ensure your executive team shares the vision

Embarking on an automation journey isn’t like migrating to a new email server. It’s part of a larger strategy that should be communicated and shared organization-wide.

“The executive team has to be in alignment with the strategy and vision and tell that story in front of the organization every opportunity they get,” said Michele Buschman, CIO, American Pacific Mortgage. “That continual reinforcement is critical to adoption. And the top-down support sends the message that the change is not just about IT—it’s about the business and business growth.”

2. Start communicating to employees early

Effective change management is all about getting your message out before office chatter and rumors begin. That means beginning the process as soon as you know the project is a “go”.

“The earlier you start communicating, and sharing tidbits of what’s to come, the better prepared your employees will be when you’re ready to actually roll something out,” said Keri Rogers, Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, Lennar Mortgage.

3. Take time to explain the “why”

When new technologies or processes are implemented, the focus is typically on the “what” and the “how”. However, the move toward automation is more than a one-off change. So, to get employees on board, lenders must focus on the “why”, and help their employees visualize their roles in the changed environment.

“For many lenders, introducing automation and task-based workflow means changing the way we’ve done business in this industry for decades. So, we have to explain that the way we’ve always done things in this industry is evolving, because technology is evolving, and that gives us the opportunity to think about everything in a different way,” Rogers said.

Hear a snippet of what Keri Rogers had to say in our recent podcast episode, "Building a culture of automation in an evolving marketplace:"

Listen to the full episode here.

4. Be relevant to your audience

Employees want to know how any change will affect them personally. That’s why our experts recommend augmenting communications about the overall corporate vision with very role-specific talk tracks that permeate throughout the entire organization.

“In addition to sharing the vision on a high level, make sure you have role-specific communication, so, no matter how I fit into the process, I can understand how the change is going to impact me,” Rogers said.

5. Focus on what’s in it for them

While the efficiencies that come from automation certainly benefit the lender, borrower, and the industry as a whole, your employees definitely want to know what’s in it for them. Approach your communications through the lens of your audience, and you’ll have better results. Weave these points into your narrative:

  • Automation technology can perform low-value, repetitive work, so employees can focus on areas that make full use of their intellect, skills, and experience.
  • The mortgage industry traditionally responds to volume fluctuations by adding bodies. Using automation technology to scale means less overtime, stress, and backlogs.
  • Automation will make the organization more efficient and more profitable, and support growth. This creates business stability, which contributes to job stability.
  • Automation will change the dynamic of how loans are produced and acquired. These changes will create new career growth opportunities within your company.
  • Embracing automation within your mortgage processes enables a better borrower experience, creating customers for life.

6. Communicate through a variety of channels

To drive adoption and alleviate fear, get personal, be consistent, and continue your communication stream all the way through, and after, the rollout.

“An email drip campaign just isn’t going to do it. You have to get personal—have regular or virtual town halls, send out video updates, and create weekly newsletters,” said Margie Ambrosio, Senior Vice President, Information Systems, George Mason Mortgage.

7. Engage employee evangelists and advocates to keep the positive messaging going

A key to your change management process is having agents on the ground who can help you drive understanding, adoption and enthusiasm around mortgage workflow automation. By involving employees early and engaging them often, they will take ownership of the project.

“We find people in each functional area and location who actually work with our team on redefining how we manage workflow and where we can insert automation,” Buschman said. “They become the change agents within those groups.”

Ready to learn more and create a clear automation strategy? Download the full version of Creating a Culture of Automation in Your Organization - Part 1, now.

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