Choices made in the design and execution of origination processes separate the best originators from the rest. One of our driving goals at Total Mortgage is to reliably close mortgage loans in 21 days. We utilize modern management techniques such as ISO 9001:2000 and Business Process Management (BPM) to focus our efforts. The benefits of BPM are well-noted, from improvements in cycle time, system throughput, resource utilization, standardization and compliance, business integration and end-to-end performance visibility. But what does it take to implement such management techniques? Here is a seven-step process to deliver on the goal of improving the customer experience through operations. ►Understand and establish your goal. Assess how consumers perceive you and collect data that describes and creates a map of your operational process. ►Design process improvements that reduce steps or simplify steps necessary to accomplish your work. Apply logic and common-sense to your process—never accept “that’s the way it’s always been done." ►Improve the productivity of the people who perform tasks in the overall process. Employee (and vendor) productivity and satisfaction is a top priority. Technological process improvements should be continually reviewed, but are only implemented when clearly beneficial to the overall goal. ►Establish on-going measurements to assess your performance. The time and expense of utilizing a BPM approach is wasted without continual monitoring against pre-established goals and baseline data. ►Provide measurement data to all parties in the process that is both individual and comparative. Your employees, managers and vendors must know how they are performing individually and in comparison to others. This enables coaching, training or changes to be implemented as necessary. ►Scale the processes for variable demand. The mortgage origination business is subject to high demand volatility. You must have clear, pre-established procedures in place to ramp up or ramp down very quickly without a major impact on the consumer experience. ►Execute and hold accountable. No BPM effort is possible without follow-through. Acceptance of process variations is not permitted. Have a plan—Work the plan. All employees and vendors must be held accountable for the outcomes of your efforts. Surveys of consumers provide clear evidence of the value of an operations focus. Ranking just below the mortgage rate and fees in consumer’s assessment of the origination experience was the “absence of surprises." Consequently, in the case of mortgage operations, the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is most certainly true!