The real estate industry has become increasingly dependent on technology to manage the flow of information from real estate agents to lenders to title companies to escrow providers, and more importantly, to secure that information against unwanted intrusion.

Just as in the past we cleaned up our offices at the end of the year, reorganized our files and ensured everything was secure, we need to do the same thing with our technology stack each year.

Conducting a technology audit, while it may feel daunting, has a lot of intrinsic benefits that should be embraced.

Why conduct an audit?

The most important reason to conduct an audit is monetary.

Most businesses spend a significant percentage of their budget on technology, and you want to look at your investment in relation to the benefit it is bringing to your company. This could include – especially for title insurance companies – improving operational efficiency, as well as helping you manage your marketing and sales efforts and improving communication with your customers.

A second reason to conduct an audit is to assess if you and your staff are maximizing the use of your resources. Sometimes we embed new software into our systems and use only a percentage of its power, simply because we do not understand the full scope of its capabilities. An audit can identify if staff need further training on a particular piece of software to increase its benefits.

And finally, an audit can reveal gaps in your systems that you may want to address in order to accomplish your business objectives for the coming year. According to data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, technology adds value especially for small businesses, reporting that “84% of small business owners using six or more technology platforms increased profits compared to 65% of entrepreneurs using one or fewer applications.” Adding technology where needed could enhance your profitability in 2014.

Additional benefits of an audit

For the real estate industry, one of the key necessities of an audit is to identify any security weaknesses that may expose the company to cybersecurity intrusions and make sure technology is updated with the latest protections.

From the standpoint of the American Land Title Association Best Practices, title agents are required to have a written information security plan (WISP) and a written privacy plan to protect NPI as required by local, state, and federal law. The process of securing data and financial information is deeply embedded in your technology and should be considered in the course of your technology audit.

An audit can also help you identify any gaps in your backup systems that could impact your disaster recovery plan.

Structuring an audit

Here are a few things to consider in conducting your technology audit.

Begin by documenting each item or grouping you want to audit. This could include hardware such as cellphones, laptops, servers and printers; software programs; and network devices.

Decide what you want to document for each type of technology, for instance you may want to record serial numbers from your hardware, conduct an analysis of the age and effectiveness of equipment that is being used, or identify new investments that need to be made in the coming year.

For your software systems, you may want to document how the software is being used and by whom, conduct a survey of your staff users to assess effectiveness, and identify where there may be redundancies or gaps.

With all of your systems, conduct an analysis on how the hardware, software, platforms, network devices etc. fit into your business goals. How will they help or hinder your ability to accomplish your business objectives in the coming year?

And finally, for each component, conduct a thorough assessment of the security programs in place. This should include staff cellphones and laptops, software providers’ security systems, and of course all of your IT systems.

At VizionX, we know how important it is to meet your customer needs by streamlining the title, settlement and closing process, starting with our next-generation closing fee solution. We help our clients by eliminating mundane tasks so you can focus on your customers. Call us today to learn more!

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