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April 27, 2023

Qualia’s Workflow Framework: The Power of Simplicity

Efficient workflows are critical in today’s market. Unfortunately, legacy enterprise title production systems often require complex and unmanageable workflows for every possible transaction, creating what is known as “workflow debt.” However, there is a better way to manage complexity at scale. By rethinking workflow design to simplify processes, title agencies can reduce the risk of error and improve overall efficiency.

Cumbersome workflows tend to occur when companies take a reactive approach to design. In this case, workflows that may have started out as simple, increase in complexity over time as title agencies cobble on additional elements to address new issues and situations. If title agencies aren’t using consistent workflow architecture when incorporating these new elements, workflows become extremely difficult to navigate and maintain. As a solution to workflow debt, title agencies can create a plan to consistently tackle complexity and maintain flexible workflows as their business evolves.

Eliminating workflow debt with consistent workflow architecture and exception management

I’ve found that when title agencies work in legacy enterprise title production systems, they tend to build workflows without a consistent workflow architecture. The resulting workflows tend to carry significant workflow debt, which can impede overall efficiency.

Common characteristics of workflows that lack consistent architecture

Workflows that lack a consistent architecture (and are likely taking on workflow debt) share a few key characteristics:

  1. Elaborate decision trees to address edge cases. Complicated workflows that try to address every possible transaction possibility often look like trees with a main workflow (the trunk) that splits off in multiple directions (the branches). This type of workflow often becomes unmanageable as businesses try to scale their operations.
  2. An excess of management approvals or overrides. Instead of training employees to understand how their workflows function, title agencies may use a very granular tasking system as a stand-in for training. These types of workflows require employees to follow detailed processes and get manager approval before advancing to the next step. Not only is this strategy inefficient, but it can also make it difficult for employees to know what to do in novel situations because they don’t understand the big-picture vision of their company’s workflows.
  3. Difficulty navigating from one task to another. Workflows that don’t follow a consistent architecture are difficult for employees to navigate. When there’s not a clear strategy for the way tasks are assigned and how they should be completed, employees may complete tasks incorrectly. These errors can disrupt automations that are intended to increase workflow efficiency. Title agencies can see this in action when automated tasks frequently fail, such as tasks that automatically complete when a specific document type is saved.
  4. New workflow elements are added to an existing workflow inconsistently. It’s inevitable that workflows change and grow as a business’s goals and priorities evolve. However, adding new elements to an existing workflow without evaluating the entire process can result in disjointed and confusing workflows. In this scenario, it’s also likely that only a few employees have a full understanding of how the entire workflow functions.

Simplifying processes with base workflows and exception management 

To avoid these common characteristics, title agencies should focus on the basics when designing new workflows. Particularly key tasks that are the same no matter the client or property location. Pulling these tasks into a “base” workflow creates a simple, reliable set of data points for reporting and triggering points on which complexity can be added. Base workflows are operational processes that only include tasks that stay the same across all transactions, regardless of location, client, or transaction type.

As mentioned above, tasks in a base workflow can serve as trigger points for the addition of additional tasking complexity. Anyone that’s ever created a workflow has likely heard the phrase, “Well, what about this situation?” from coworkers if certain tasks are left off a base workflow. This scenario is where a well-defined exception management policy comes into play. An exception management policy gives companies a clear method for determining what goes into the main workflow and what should be dealt with as an exception.

For example, a company may decide its base workflow should solve for situations that happen about 80% of the time. If a certain situation happens less often than that—it’s an exception and should not be included in the base workflow. Tasking for exceptions will be created as task chains that can be manually added by users when a rare exception situation occurs. By following a clear exception management policy, title agencies can track and task exceptions without overcomplicating the main workflow.

Maximizing workflow success with a culture of continuous improvement

Optimizing title production workflows is an ongoing process that requires a commitment to continuous improvement. Many organizations make the mistake of assuming that their work is complete once they have established their workflows. However, this is just the beginning. Successful title agencies must adopt a mindset of continuous improvement to remain efficient and provide their clients with the best possible service. Continuously improving workflows doesn’t have to be a heavy lift. Instead, smaller optimizations implemented more routinely can significantly improve workflows over time.

Leveraging Qualia’s team of title experts

Redesigning workflows can be daunting, especially for title agencies using complex workflows with elaborate decision trees. But, these operational improvements can empower title agencies to simplify their processes, increase internal efficiency, and eliminate workflow debt.

Title agencies don’t have to make these changes on their own. Instead, they can rely on industry veterans with experience creating workflows that meet and exceed modern demands. This is why we created Qualia’s Workflow Framework. This framework can help companies manage complexity effectively, adapt quickly to changing market conditions, and leverage advanced technologies to improve efficiency.

Alex Brown

Alex is a real estate attorney with a Title and Escrow background spanning the local, regional, and national levels. Prior to Qualia, Alex worked at Mortgage Connect, a national title and escrow services provider focused primarily on high volume refinance transactions and with Opendoor to launch their joint-venture national title company. Alex developed Opendoor’s title operation from a single state/single market in 2017 to their 2020 multi-state coverage area processing nearly 15,000 transactions with an approximate value of $7.2 billion.

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