It’s prime time to audit tech stacks for success

Lenders shouldn’t be looking to build a new tech stack from scratch, but they can make winning moves to optimize them

For nearly 30 years, Deion Sanders has been a recognizable name in the sports world. He’s made headlines again this summer after being named the new head football coach at the University of Colorado Boulder and subsequently undergoing a roster overhaul that resulted in the departure of 81% of last year’s roster.

A majority of the exits were made after Sanders and the coaching staff audited the roster and determined it wasn’t optimized for the desired productivity and results. This move has paid off as three weeks into the 2023 season (as of this writing), the Colorado Buffaloes were 3-0 and hosted ESPN’s College GameDay. 

Similarly, many lenders are currently auditing their roster of vendors and technologies to optimize productivity and return on investment (ROI).

One of the more commonly used metrics to determine a lender’s ROI is the per-loan pre-tax net production income, and the biggest factors impacting this metric are production volume in both dollars and units. Closing fewer loans means the production costs are spread out over fewer units, thereby increasing the production cost per loan. 

Since peaking at $5,535 in Q3 2020, thanks to historically high production volume, the per-loan, pre-tax net production income for independent mortgage bankers (IMBs) has been falling. The most recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows that IMBs lost an average of $534 per loan in Q2 2023. The good news is that the last two quarters have shown steady improvement from Q4 2022.

For many lenders, priorities for this year include migrating their systems to the cloud and increasing production volumes, lead generation efficiency and productivity, which includes engaging business intelligence (BI) tools that can provide insights necessary when making staffing decisions. And they’re making sure they have the technologies to do so. 

A very common sentiment in the industry is that now is the time to double down on implementing new tech because lenders have the time to focus on it. Obviously, that is a great mindset for vendors, but it isn’t really a great course of action for lenders because most are trying to decrease costs, not increase them.

Conduct a tech stack audit as a first step

As well as tabling tech stack additions initiated during the pandemic, lenders are reevaluating their current tech stack compositions, looking for areas where they can cut costs without sacrificing productivity or efficiency.

When auditing a tech stack, there are several factors to consider beyond immediate cost savings. These factors include the need the tech satisfies, the usefulness of the tech, operational errors, utilization, system functionality and vendor deficiency.

The objective of a tech stack audit is to consolidate, optimize and replace unnecessary tech. The benefits of considering these factors during a tech stack audit include reducing software redundancies, streamlining back-end processes, maximizing the advantages of integration, minimizing billing issues, decreasing the need for additional employee training and improving data flow. 

While every lender will have unique considerations during a tech stack audit, there are basic steps that should be taken to realize the potential benefits of the audit. The first step in any audit is to compile a list.

It’s basically impossible to conduct a successful tech stack audit without knowing every software currently in it. This list should also be compared to accounting records to ensure that all tech is accounted for while verifying the current spend on each tool. 

Analyze the audit to take decisive action

Once the tech stack list has been compiled, or as the list is compiled, it’s time to expand the data set associated with each technology.

This includes information such as the department(s) that use the software, type of software, features and functionalities, total number of users, definition of an active user, number of active users, annual cost and relevant integrations.

Lenders can also use this time to survey employees on why they do or do not use particular tools and the qualitative and quantitative impact of each tool.

With this information in hand, it becomes easier to determine the value each software brings, if there are better solutions on the market and how it affects the customer experience.

This information provides lenders with a greater understanding of the effectiveness of each technology, where there are overlaps in functionalities and the adoption rate of the technology within the organization.

Having these factors analyzed with the same criteria allows lenders to determine where to make cuts and improve efficiency by eliminating redundant, outdated and unused software. 

A leaner tech stack should improve ROI, streamline business

As lenders slim down their tech stacks, they should quickly see increases in their ROI. This will typically result from a combination of several factors. Reducing expenses should positively impact the profit and loss statement (P&L), including showing a net increase in revenue.

A leaner tech stack will help streamline training for new employees and clearly outlining the benefits and features of each tool should also lead to increased adoption by existing employees. A greater understanding of a tech stack’s offerings and how to maximize the benefits and efficiencies of each tool will improve employee satisfaction and provide a better customer experience.

By reducing a tech stack’s offerings, lenders also mitigate risk by minimizing software entry points, passwords and data access, keeping data and back-end processes clean and reducing the potential for quality control issues by eliminating software redundancies. 

With much of the mortgage process reliant on the software in a lender’s tech stack, it’s improbable that a lender will see a reduction in their tech stack roster like the one orchestrated by Coach Sanders.

Unlike the Colorado football team, though, lenders shouldn’t be looking to build a new tech stack from scratch, but they can make winning moves with their tech stacks. Lenders should focus on increasing production volumes, operational efficiencies and profits. With these goals in mind, they should be able to easily reach their desired results of a tech stack audit.

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