5 Cents On Combined Job Descriptions

Recently a client asked whether combined job descriptions make sense. In his case the company combine processing, closing and shipping the file to the investor. I have seen many shops, in particular community banks, the combine processing and closing. The challenge for every one of the companies is the delays and problems that start to occur when there is a plan to expand and grow the sales team. This is usually when I get called in to help determine the best way to handle the growth and change operationally. From my observations of companies across the country here are a few of the factors involved: 1) Expansion in operations is harder when a job description has multiple skill sets required. It’s harder to find the right mix of qualities when hiring. The break point seems to be when the company needs more than 4-5 of this position (for some 3-4 is the break point). First of all there may not be a hiring pool of people with combined talents. In addition, there becomes a break point when training and ‘on boarding’ is taking more than 6-8 weeks for someone to get around the curve. Typical on boarding for these positions should be around 4-6 weeks. The longer the on boarding process, the more inefficiency in the mean time. 2) The skills required are very different for these positions: Processors need to be people oriented with excellent customer service skills whereas a shipper doesn’t require this level of skill. You pay for skill so the pay is higher for combination positions. This is a cost decision for the company business model based on staff costs in your market. Job descriptions should be written to illustrate the tasks and therefore the skills for the position. When you actually write down what each position must handle on a daily basis the disconnect when combining everything from processing through shipping becomes very clear. 3) Priorities are tough to manage when closing is combined with any other function with different daily priorities. Closers have tight deadlines. Processor/closers stop processing when loans have to close. 4) Managing valleys in the business cycle and not wanting layoffs, seems to be why some companies like combined job descriptions. In other cases, it just ended up that way because of the talent in the office and the reality is the staff is stressed out trying to wear multiple hats. You might be able to buffer the down cycles with combined jobs but it is a challenge when growing. 5) Continuity of knowledge within the file is a valuable part of combining processing and closing positions. So you must weigh the talent pool with the pace of growth you wish to accomplish. In most cases the value of the continuity of knowledge is quickly outweighed by the plans for growth. You just need to have the right checklists and systems to maintain the same level of quality. That’s my 5 cents. Alice Alvey, CMB | President | Indecomm-Mortgage U, Inc