When Realstar Title began offering residents of the Twin Cities a range of title insurance and real estate services in 1995, founder Tom Christensen never envisioned some of the challenges his business would face. His company quickly grew from one office and a handful of employees to four offices and 23 employees. With that expansion came new business. The number of orders Realstar processed jumped from 30-50 a month to 400-600 a month in just a few years. While that business was welcome, Christensen realized he had a big problem on his hands.
Realstar didn’t have an adequate system to access, manage and store the enormous number of documents its business created. The company’s manual system not only drained worker productivity, but negatively impacted the level of customer service employees could provide. In short, Realstar had a document management crisis that threatened its future.
Dealing with the Day-to-Day Paper Shuffle
The number of forms and documents required for most real estate transactions makes the business of providing title insurance not only labor-intensive, but paper-intensive. Reams of paper documents are generated, all of which need to be easily accessed and safely and securely stored.
Realstar quickly learned that the 20-30 documents involved in a typical closing created a document management problem. Original copies of documents needed to be saved, as did copies, faxes and print-outs of public records. With documents retained for seven years, boxes of files stacked up in a hurry, creating major storage issues.
Quickly locating these documents and sharing them with employees at other offices also was a problem. If documents were misfiled or lost, closings could be delayed and additional fees could be incurred. Faced with a problem that affected the competitiveness of his business, Christensen turned to someone he could trust.
Implementing a Digital Document Management Solution
Realstar approached HelpSystems about Webdocs, a web-based document and image management system that fit met all of Realstar’s needs. The system allows users to scan documents, store them on either their own computers or the HelpSystems server and then easily access and manage them online. Webdocs is fast, simple, secure and easy to learn and use.
With Webdocs, Realstar employees simply scan their closing documents into the system as they’re created. And because most documents can be shredded and discarded, storage concerns are largely solved. Documents are now accessed from any standard web browser and are easy to find and share, thanks to search features that allow for indexed keys and full-text searches. The system’s built-in workflow capabilities also allow users to establish automated workflow routing processes, further increasing productivity.
Implementing business solutions such as this isn’t always smooth and easy. Technical glitches occur and extensive training is often required. Not so with Webdocs. The system works seamlessly on Realstar’s existing PCs and is fully integrated into the TitleStar system. Training time was minimal, as most users were familiar with web browsers like Internet Explorer. In addition, no special software, upgrades or system maintenance was required.
Webdocs Gives RealStar a Competitive Edge
Since Realstar began using Webdocs in 2003, Christensen has seen considerable productivity gains from his employees. Instead of concentrating on paperwork, they’re free to focus on customers. Documents are now instantly accessible from anywhere–a Realstar branch, an employee’s home, the office of a mortgage broker, or any other location. Electronic files are easily shared and updated with the touch of a button.
Lost or missing documents are no longer a problem and the latest versions of in-process documents are always available. The days of frantically rummaging through boxes and filing cabinets for important documents are long gone.
Storage concerns were also addressed. The ability to store documents electronically cut down the average closing paper file from 100 pages to ten pages. Storage space was reduced by nearly 65 percent. And because Realstar decided to have HelpSystems host and maintain their document images on their secure server, IT costs and data storage concerns were significantly reduced.
With Webdocs, Realstar can truly grow in all the right ways–offering more service to more customers–without having to add personnel or storage space. “There are plenty of places offering the same basic services we do, so we have to do it better,” said Christensen. “In our business, the most important thing we can offer our clients is a faster and easier closing process, and Webdocs helps us do that.”