When it comes to residential, commercial and industrial title insurance, Cortes & Hay offers the necessary combination of experience and expertise across the entire range of professional services. Since 1971, their business has been defined by customer-centered relationships that are as personal as they are professional.
To properly serve their customers, Cortes & Hay must create files of the documents that comprise a title insurance binder. These documents come from two places, those generated internally, and others that come from external sources. The resulting files need to be distributed to appropriate parties.
Early adapters of technology, Cortes & Hay’s first computers used DOS to automate internally generated documents. In 1997, they switched from DOS to a software program specific to the title insurance industry, called WinTitle, which is compatible with the Windows operating system.
WinTitle files must be printed and combined with external hard copy files generated from deed copies, mortgage copies and easement copies to make a complete binder. The combined package of computer-generated paper and hard copy files (typically 25 to 100 pages) is distributed to the attorneys, lenders, and borrowers, while Cortes & Hay retains a hard copy file for their archive. The final package can be from one to seven inches thick, and Cortes & Hay produces 120 to 180 packages per month. Given the recent frenzy to take advantage of low interest rates, they can produce over 2,000 packages per year.
The Paper Monster
For 30 years, Cortes & Hay stored files in filing cabinets in the 1,500 sq. ft. basement of their original office. As their business grew, so did their mountain of paper. The basement was transformed into rows and rows of filing cabinets, and when there was no more space, they rented additional storage space offsite under a bank building. Eventually, their backfile grew until it totaled hundreds of thousands of files … and, they not only needed to keep those files, but they also needed to have access to the information contained in them.
“Keeping all that paper can be critical for many reasons,” says Michele Newhouse, Vice President – Operations of Cortes & Hay “we have to keep everything for seven years, but it can be a great benefit to keep everything forever. We often have to search back through 60 years of clear title. If we save the back titles, we can search in a couple of hours what might have taken two weeks. We’ve accumulated a lot of back titles. Whenever we do a search, there is no point in throwing out what we learn.”
Along with Newhouse, company President David Hay wanted a more efficient alternative to the growing mountain of paper. The two envisioned a paperless office, and together they began researching electronic alternatives to paper with an eye towards a completely electronic archive. Hay and Newhouse went to technology shows and called other title agencies to learn anything that would offer a solution. It wasn’t easy.
Finding an Acceptable Strategy
“We had a lot of people come to the office and do product demos,” recalls Newhouse, “but they all wanted to promote a scan-to-jukebox strategy that seemed as inadequate as a file cabinet, only smaller. The scanning technology we were shown couldn’t read handwritten documentation and we had to do a lot of abstracting. Also, the scanners had trouble with odd-sized paper. We just wanted a simple, efficient storage, search and retrieval mechanism and couldn’t seem to find one.”
Meanwhile, Cortes & Hay’s business skyrocketed. They had so much production work that researching new technology solutions had to be put on the back burner while the company concentrated on meeting customer demands. During this period, however, the increase in paper files caused by the upturn in business underscored the need to act.
Cortes & Hay hired Pathfinder Consulting Group, LLC to host their web site and serve as IT consultants. After extensive research, Pathfinder recommended Computhink’s Contentverse as the central software application of the paperless office.
According to Newhouse, “We were so busy that Pathfinder people would come in at 6:30 AM for meetings and were gone by 9:00 AM so we could start our day! We knew we wanted to go paperless, but once we went paperless, we didn’t want to have to figure out where everything was. We needed everyone to be able to make queries from their desktop to find any file.”
It’s Never Been Done Before and We Need an Upgrade
Charlie Levin, President of Pathfinder Consulting, noted: “We were hired to deal with an overwhelming amount of paper documents and find the best solution. We surveyed the market of available products and found that no product had ever successfully integrated with WinTitle. After many product demonstrations from numerous companies, only Computhink had an appropriate solution. Computhink demonstrated how Contentverse could provide a seamless integration with WinTitle, and the decision to recommend Contentverse to Cortes & Hay became easy.”
For Pathfinder and Computhink, the final piece of the solution puzzle involved scalability. Cortes & Hay needed to deliver service to their headquarters and one additional branch office immediately, and they were also considering adding more branch offices. Their existing server couldn’t handle the load and Levin was hesitant to ask them to spend a fortune for server muscle that they might not fully utilize. Levin suggested remote hosting, which required Computhink to upgrade Contentverse to make it compatible to Microsoft’s Terminal Server.
Computhink promised they would have Contentverse updated to work with the terminal server before the agreed deadline. “The waiting was the hardest part,” remembers Newhouse, “I heard horror stories of software companies taking forever to release upgrades, but I have to say Computhink was true to their word.”
Contentverse was up and running on schedule and making an immediate impact in the Cortes & Hay offices. Now, Cortes & Hay has one scanner station that works on new files as well as the backfile, hard copy is indexed and scanned into the electronic file, where it combines with documents generated by WinTitle. Additionally, Cortes & Hay can email and fax through Contentverse, and all desktops have immediate access to the resulting files, searching via a variety of index factors.
Return on Investment
“It’s easy to see how Contentverse has transformed our office into a modern marvel of efficiency,” says Newhouse. “It’s given us the time to write more business and be more responsive to the increase in demand for our services.”
“The most direct return on investment comes in the cost savings of time and storage space. It used to take a minimum of 15 minutes to find, copy, and replace a file. Now, it takes two minutes to do the same job (and you don’t have to leave your desk). Plus, you can email or fax the entire file with a few keystrokes. Before Contentverse, if a file was stored offsite, you might not be able to get it until later in the day. Now, everything is at our fingertips.”
As the backfile is converted to Contentverse, Cortes & Hay is paying less and less for storage space. Eventually, they won’t have the need for paper storage. This represents a savings of many thousands of dollars over time.
“We are very satisfied with the results,” concludes Newhouse. “Computhink has worked very well with Pathfinder to ensure our satisfaction. Our cost savings is dramatic, we are in an efficient position to take advantage of higher profit potential, and we have a happier work environment. When all is said and done, Contentverse document management software is spectacular.”