Approximately 60% of the average employee’s day is spent working on an organization’s records and documents. How much of that time is truly productive and how much of it is wasted? When dealing with content creation, storage, archiving, distribution, and transfer throughout an enterprise, there are often significant areas for improvement. A cloud-based consolidation and distribution center can vastly reduce the amount of time employees need to spend on document management while also improving business outcomes and customer service.
Boosting Productivity and Reducing Time to Market
With the majority of employee time being spent on document management, there are many opportunities to boost productivity and efficiency. Moving to the cloud allows an organization to take advantage of superior resources and an always accessible platform, both of which drive innovation and make it faster and easier for employees to process their documents effectively. Employees will be able to connect and collaborate from anywhere in the world, and thus they can quickly complete products and reduce the organization’s time to market. The enterprise content management (ECM) market is growing faster than the overall software market, as more organizations find that improving their ECM is one of the fastest ways to reduce project time and boost productivity. Time to market can be extraordinarily important for many organizations, especially those with close competition. Through cloud ECM, organizations can remain competitive with other businesses as they, too, invest in newer technologies.
Increased Reliability, Scalability, and Elasticity
Reliability is a key component of success. Up to 27% of businesses have suffered a loss of reputation due to poor document management. This affects customer retention, customer acquisition, and word-of-mouth advertising.
Cloud-based ECM gains all of the traditional benefits of the cloud. Cloud ECM can offer greater uptime than on-premises solutions, it can scale upwards through the deployment of additional resources, and has the elasticity to deploy resources on-the-fly to compensate for sudden or unexpected intervals of increased usage. All of this amounts to better service for customers and a far more productive and efficient environment for employees. Elasticity has the additional benefit of ensuring that the service is reliable and that organizations don’t need to pay for resources when they don’t need them. Scalability prevents an organization from being forced to invest too much in their infrastructure before they truly need it.
Lower Cost of Deployment and Ownership
By far the biggest driver of cloud-based enterprise content management is cost. When polling organizations, 38% reported that they were interested in cloud-based ECM for the purposes of cost reduction, compared to running their ECM solutions from on-premises servers. Deploying an ECM system on-premises means investing heavily in network infrastructure and physical assets, whereas a cloud-based ECM platform can be quickly deployed and scaled to suit the organization’s budget and needs. ECM deployments may contain as little or as much of an organization’s documents as desired and the costs are fluid; they can be reduced if the organization’s need is reduced. On premise servers and infrastructure often need to be upgraded to compensate for company growth and older equipment. This isn’t necessary with cloud-based ECM deployments, which simply requisition and provision resources as needed.
Integration With Business Process Management
Business process management (BPM) and enterprise content management need to work together for the best business outcomes. For most businesses, their documents are their processes.
Integrating BPM and ECM allows for fewer bottlenecks, improved overall efficiency, increased visibility, improved responsiveness, and fewer human errors. Cloud-based solutions can be easily and quickly integrated with each other for full support and consolidation. Many modern organizations are moving their entire infrastructure to the cloud, including BPM, ERP and CRM systems, and, of course, ECM. By managing and maintaining all of these components through the cloud, an organization can create an always-on completely connected and consolidated network.
BPM and ECM solutions can also be used to reduce liability and improve regulatory compliance, as they create a complete audit trail for documents and procedures, ensuring that the organization always has records for the work completed and the details of that work.
Universal Accessibility and Improved Collaboration
Cloud platforms can be used to effectively connect offices from city to city or nation to nation. Not only can organizations leverage the power of a global office, but they can also empower employees with the flexibility to set their own hours or work from home. Flexible work schedules aid in courting top talent, sourcing affordable talent, and keeping employees happy and productive. Cloud-based systems can be accessed from anywhere in the world and are “always on,” allowing for improved collaboration and the support of multiple time zones and regions.
Through a cloud-based ECM, an organization can freely grow throughout the globe. And by integrating a cloud-based ECM with other cloud-based solutions, better collaboration can be achieved throughout business processes. Cloud-based solutions can work on virtually any platform and generally only need a browser to connect to, freeing up employees to work from anywhere and to work on multiple devices. On-premises ECM applications can cost $1 million or more, with $200,000 or more being invested in hardware alone. Not only do cloud-based ERP solutions have a lower cost of deployment and maintenance, but they can significantly improve productivity and efficiency by creating an always-on solution through which employees can effectively collaborate and share.
Document management is a core business process that has to be effectively streamlined and managed for the overall productivity of a business. Through cloud-based enterprise content management solutions, an organization can improve the efficiency of every level of their business operations, accelerating speed to market and their customer happiness.
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According to IDC (International Data Corp) – between now and 2020… there will be 44X the growth in information BUT… only 1.4X growth in IT professionals. For example, according to MBA Online there are 294 billion emails sent every day. To give you an idea of the impact it would take the US Postal Service two (2) years to process that many pieces of mail. Every day 172 million people visit Facebook, 2 million Blog posts are written (guilty as charged), enough posts to fill Time Magazine for 770 million years!
So why are we waiting to manage and store all this information? According to an AIIM, the leading trade association in a Enterprise Content Management (ECM) survey, “the problem is we don’t think we have a problem!” The number one answer to the survey is “management is still dragging their feet;” followed by “people still want to hold onto their paper.” Finally, “people still think they need a wet signature (signature on paper)” …and so on.
Yet AIIM also asked the following question, “How much more productive do you think your organization would be…with ECM?” The median answer is “at least 33% more productive.” So where is Enterprise Content Management (ECM) headed? We see the traditional ECM model moving from document centric to people centric, open and collaborative, community oriented and so on… A focus on the customer, rather than on products, is a critical ingredient for financial institutions to maintain and grow their business with their customers.
ECM is an effective approach to helping financial institutions manage the information, the content necessary to achieve a customer-centric focus. As business and consumer customers become empowered by social media and pervasive communications, they are starting to realize they have choices for their financial services. These trends are reshaping the financial industry and are putting financial institutions into a more competitive atmosphere than before.
Technology innovations today and into the future have been turned up-side-down! It used to be business drove innovation, today people do. So how do you manage the information tsunami so your customers don’t end up knowing more about your products and services than you do? That is the imperative for going paperless and more.
We have moved from an era of the PC, to the internet and today the cloud. Each subsequent move has happened more rapidly. You can see how things were processed from the document, to the web page and today it’s an interaction. Consider the best known companies. Look how over time we have moved the cheese from IBM to Microsoft and now to Facebook. Content has moved from microfiche to image, to document, to content to social business systems? We see financial institutions moving from the PC to the web and mobile devices, but not nearly as quickly as their customers and the growth in the devices themselves. What’s next? Go paperless.
What are 2 or 3 greatest misperceptions associated with implementing doc imaging?
Centralized scanning (capture) is NOT the only way to control the document imaging capture and workflow. Scanners become increasingly powerful and inexpensive. Scanners for less than $1,000 include features such as duplex and color document capture. Software as a Service (SaaS) and in-house web-server based ECM applications offer click-once deployment, employ barcode recognition, forms recognition and e-signature technologies which allow for a more automated and accurate method of capture. Centralized capture out! Distributed capture in!
Your ECM implementation happens overnight. False! Technologies such as report archive and a basic backfile scanning application, like signature cards may be in place in weeks, but careful planning and best practices while employing ECM applications for all new account and loan products, HR, accounting, Accounts Payable and so on take time and teamwork.
You're going to go "completely" paperless. False! There are going to be documents you have to keep, such as a mortgage and a deed. Your lawyer must decide.
How long is a ‘typical’ timeline to get a doc imaging system up and running?
If the ECM vendor provides "templates" for the applications the customer wishes to implement and best practices guidelines during the pre-implementation stage and during implementation a "typical" document imaging implementation timeline will be 30-90 days. If the customer is exceptionally well organized in terms of defining their applications and indexes it can be 30-45 days. The customer must provide good feedback and be fully engaged.
Who is best suited to serve as the project owner for implementation: IT, the business line being imaged, or some other area?
The IT department or IT consultant needs to be involved as well as the business line managers of the department or organization being implemented but the ECM project owner should be a person that has project management skills. They might not have all the answers but have the ability to get the answers and keep the project on track internally and be an advocate to promote the system throughout the organization.
Besides loan origination, what are 3 other areas that should be considered for doc imaging?
Deposits, Operations, Legal, HR, AP, Vendor Management, Facilities Management Wire transfer and more...
Are there any business lines or areas that are NOT good candidates for doc imaging? Why?
There are areas that will be more challenging than others. If you are new to ECM, pick an area of the institution where there is a quick ROI like new account signature cards, new account documents, consumer loans, HR then make your way to more challenging are such as commercial mortgages. The primary concern will always be the same best practices and teamwork.
What recommendations can be made to minimize staff keeping ‘ghost files’?
If you cannot access the content, image files, documents and reports easily and quickly from anywhere across the organization, you will most likely have people keeping ghost files. This means stop the flow by capturing documents at their originating point within your organization and conquering the backfile as well. A scanning service is a good way to get that done. It is usually easy though for the bank themselves to go back and scan in all the old signature cards. This is a good way to be successful right off the bat. It has a good impact on the customer and the staff.
I recently did a survey and analysis at a multi-billion financial institution and I expressly advised them they would never catch up with their backfile if they didn’t capture their documents at the source (branch) or in the field and utilize e-signature and auto-indexing methods whenever possible. Centralized capture is out! Distributed capture is in! Managing social business content lags far behind, but we are storing more content from more and more channels of communication.
Can some docs be destroyed immediately after imaging? Any docs that can NOT be destroyed?
This list is extensive and requires the advice from the financial institutions legal counsel. As a general rule, keep everything seven years. Keep the Mortgage, Release of Mortgage and Note permanently.
There’s a great series on the History Channel, called “Life After People”. The series explores what happens to our cities, buildings and bridges without people to maintain them. In just days, our very infrastructure we take for granted, our tunnels and subways will become flooded. Transportation will cease. Power will be cut. Our planet begins to look like this (click on thumbnails).
Here is a trailer to the series. Living After People.
Most of our competitor’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions, a.k.a., document imaging or COLD, are considered ancillary (secondary) products. What happens when your provider’s resources are pulled from ECM product development to concentrate their resources on their core competency?
There's a series is in the works, it’s called “Living without Legacy”. It’s about living with an erosion in talent; living with meager or no updates; living with Band-Aid fixes (patches).
Moore’s Law, named after the founder of Intel is about the trends in technology and innovation. While Moore’s Law (click on thumbnail view) addresses transistors, processors and memory devices face similar growth. These devices impact the software development business in a very big way.
Software development is our business and we know software is never done. You have to update constantly to keep up with the latest technology. Otherwise it will end up like the Golden Gate Bridge. Underwater.
If you are living with legacy, you won’t be able to take advantage of the latest web technology. And just like hair extensions, don’t be fooled by web extensions. Like the world's underground of tunnels and subways, the underlying technology behind web extensions is client-server - (legacy) based. If and when available, what will it cost you to upgrade to the latest web-server technology of your ECM product? It just may be time to find out.
Technology is not slowing down, it’s speeding up. The faster technology changes the faster software applications must change to keep you competitive in your industry.
Integra Business Systems, Inc. develops ECM products for financial institutions and the financial services industry. We own our technology. We develop in ASP.Net and .Net. Our iDentifi.net (follow link) product line is web-based.
To learn more about the products you need and best practices, go to the post, Imaging Horsepower, a post on this Blog which has appeared in both ICBA Magazine and online at Credit Union Magazine.
iDentifi.net customers live without legacy. To us ECM is not our ancillary, it’s our occupation.
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A successful ECM implementation means credit union staff must find the software easy to use. An ECM application using the ubiquitous browser is a good choice for searching for documents. Who isn’t familiar with the Internet browser? This reduces the cost and time to train employees, especially in positions with high turnover.
As a contributor to the article, Wiessner made the following observations..., "To get a more accurate ROI, community banks should calculate both the hard and soft costs of their current operations and compare those with the costs and savings after investing in an imaging system, vendors advise. "The greatest ROI in deploying an ECM system today is in reducing labor costs by increasing the efficiency of processing and retrieving documents;' offers Alan Wiessner, chief executive of Integra Business Systems Inc., a document imaging provider in Safety Harbor, Fla.
"Banks often discount these soft-cost savings because they fail to recognize they can either eliminate or repurpose employees to reduce costs or to increase productivity, which is essential for growth:' Reducing or eliminating printing costs provides the best ROI in terms of hard dollars savings, Wiessner says. These costs include faxing, copying and distributing paper, estimated at 6 to 14 cents a page, depending on the printer, fax or copy machine used. "But banks don't always know the true amount of these costs because of all the shadow copies employees may be making;' he says. Those are the copies of documents that employees may be making;' he says. Those are the copies of documents that employees in the branches or other areas of the bank make so they don't have to take the time to retrieve documents from the bank's legacy systems in its centralized operations. Sometimes it can take days, but customers needing information off of those documents won't tolerate waiting:'
By potentially eliminating these shadow costs, the costs of hardware such as multifunction printers or scanners can often be easily justified, Wiessner continues. One example he gives: Desktop scanners can cost less than $1,000 for each branch. ROI should come within 6 to 18 months of implementation of an enterprise content management system, particularly if it's a Web based system.
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Best practices in document imaging was defined by large, clunky and expensive scanners for images and optical jukeboxes for storage. In the early 2000s centralized scanning and research was the norm due to limitations in networking technology and the associated hardware costs.
Desktop computing has morphed into notebook computers and mobile devices. Every year American businesses generate over 2 trillion documents. At our current rate of information exchange that number will increase every three years. On the average, a community bank manager can spend 30 minutes to three hours a day (or three months per year) searching for documents.
Internal intranets have replaced local area networks as the preferred method for businesses, including community banks, to share information. This translates into many more documents and many new document types for banks to manage. To deal with the increases in content, document imaging and Computer Output Laser Disk (COLD) has been replaced by Enterprise Content Management (ECM).
More documents to manage on internet time means availability and access to documents must be fast and secure. Lower-priced scanners and the proliferation of multifunction printers make it easier to capture documents at their source. Add privacy policies, ever increasing regulation and compliance pressure, compel community banks to use ECM effectively to manage their documents. Best practices for an ECM system must address several key areas.
A successful implementation of ECM means the bank employee must find the software easy to use. An ECM application using the ubiquitous browser is a good choice for searching for documents. Who isn’t familiar with the internet browser? This reduces the bank’s cost and the time to train employees, especially in areas of high turnover. It can be as easy as the “Back” button. To compete and to communicate effectively in our new world, documents must be easily accessible to bank employees from a multitude of sources. Today many documents are “born digital,” where documents include e-mail and e-mail attachments, text, Web content, word processing documents (such as board minutes and spreadsheets for accounting), digital photos and video.
Fresh off the presses, this post also appears as an article titled "Imaging Horsepower" that appears in September 2010 ICBA Magazine. It emphasizes best practices and it certainly plays to our strengths! Warning, it's a yawn if you're not looking to add ECM or improve your current ECM solution.
The Web is always on. Bank customers have online banking and can bank anywhere and at anytime. Bank employees need access to customer documents too, anywhere and anytime. With ECM software a bank employee in a branch could retrieve an image of their ID or Signature card for identification purposes. If there was no ID on file they could scan it locally, at their desk. They could take an application for a loan, scan the application and ID to an electronic folder, notifying the credit department to process the application, get it approved and back to the branch employee to complete the loan. This can reduce the chance of fraud, satisfy regulatory compliance, such as the USA Patriot Act and save the customer time.
An ECM product can also employ an eSignature application which allows bank customers to eSign deposit and loan documents. Instead of printing to a laser printer the print job is sent to the eSignature application. All pages appear on the display for signing on a digitizing pad or tablet PC. One major advantage to an eSignature solution is the capability to predefine all signature areas, initials and number of signers on a document or document set. The signing process cannot be completed until all signatures and initials have been completed. This saves time, especially if the bank employee has conducted the signing at the bank customer’s home or office.
eSignature can eliminate or substantially reduces printing costs. The bank’s eSigned copy is automatically stored to the ECM archive. The customer can opt to receive the eSigned documents by e-mail, on a thumb drive or the documents can still be printed after the signing. eSignature comes with the added benefit that bank documents no longer need to be printed, signed and then scanned into the ECM archive. This saves both time and money.
Community banks rely heavily on IT for the latest and greatest technology necessary to compete with larger banks and comply with ever increasing government regulation. An ECM application that is easy to deploy (one click installation) and receives unattended updates via a secure Web server is ideal for a busy IT department. ECM applications, once written for the desktop PC (legacy applications), are now written for the Web. Today’s ECM platform should include one-click technology to deploy the ECM application across the enterprise to multiple locations easily and efficiently. Again, time and money saved.
Many community bank branches have invested in multifunction printers, which include the ability to scan documents. An ECM system can compatible with MFP devices is a plus. The availability of bar-coded documents from most new account and loan origination vendors make scanned documents easier to identify and archive. Documents can be captured (imaged) in the branch, then indexed and store centrally by the ECM system and accessed by any user across the enterprise who has been given the rights to access them.
The ability to drag and drop “born digital” documents into the ECM system, easily identify and file these documents from a multitude of sources is essential.
Some would argue making documents available via the browser is risky. Which is more secure? A file folder on someone’s desk or encrypted documents in a secure file folder stored on a secure server in a secure location accessible only via a private network? Many community banks have multiple lines of business, which require multiple levels of document security. For example, someone in new accounts may not be allowed to access loan documents. Other personnel may need to access both new accounts and loan documents but only customer related documents. They may need to be restricted from access to employee only documents and human resources. With an ECM system, multiple layers of user security down to the document level is possible. Only the persons that have been given the rights to view the document can view it.
Internal audits as well as audits from state and federal governments can be conducted much more quickly and efficiently with ECM. An ECM system that employs document tracking allows the bank to define which documents are needed for every type of deposit or loan transaction. Document tracking can determine if all the associated documents have been archived or if documents are missing. Reminders are created and e-mail or printed notices are sent when a recurring document (such as financial statements or certificates of insurance) is needed. If documents are missing reports, notices are sent to the responsible bank employees and managers. Logs show an audit trail.
Your ECM vendor must produce and keep current, a vendor management package. The package must include information such as SAS70 certification, audited financials, a security agreement, acceptable use policy, password policy, termination policy and a disaster recovery plan, to name a few documents and policies required by community banks from their ECM vendor.
An ECM system should include a log that will record when a document has been viewed, printed, e-mailed or whether a document has been revised. It will display by default the current version of the document and also keep older revisions. Document retention policies can be set on each document type as to the length of time the documents are will be viewable, when they are moved to long term archive or when they are destroyed.
Documents will not be moved or destroyed without the administrator of the ECM system being notified and given the option to change the document(s) status. Any eSigned document that is altered will cause the eSignature to be replaced by a large red “X” in the signature areas.
A co-location facility is recommended to be either manned by a third-party provider with the technical skills to back up your mission critical applications and be located within one day’s vehicle travel from the primary facility. Community banks that may not be able to take advantage of the latest ECM technology due to cost or lack of IT resources can employ an ECM solution from a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider. Most SaaS models will include disaster recovery which essential to an ECM deployment in today’s world of regulation, compliance and security.
ECM software can cut down on the cost of printing, reprinting, faxing, postage and courier runs. If everyone across the enterprise has the ability to view the documents they need, there is no need to keep “shadow” copies of the documents and files in multiple locations. This saves money and also makes for good press. Community banks that already have a “Go Green” initiative or wish to implement one can say with confidence their ECM product saves trees.
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It’s time to put the brakes on government spending. The road to recovery lies with the success of small businesses, not with behemoth car companies and big labor. If we were going to bailout anyone, we should have bailed out the car dealerships and auto supply companies to allow them to remarket, retool and invest in new technologies. We should be growing our tax base, which is only going to happen if we fuel the small business private sector. Speaking of which, why are we not doing more to grow and keep promising small business technology companies and their technology jobs in the USA, where our best talent and our best jobs can remain right here at home?
"You will find men who want to be carried on the shoulders of others, who think that the world owes them a living. They don't seem to see that we must all lift together and pull together." Henry Ford
We have Bill Gates and Microsoft, Larry Ellison and Oracle; and Eric Schmidt and Google, not to mention a plethora of phenomenal technology and software companies that started from nothing and today generate thousands upon thousands of high paying private sector jobs and tax revenues, all “Made in the USA.”
What’s more, most technology companies, in particular software companies, do little to harm our ecology (true green); they do not tax our ports, our roads, our bridges or our rail. This reduces our carbon footprint, while not adding to the tremendous and costly burden on the seemingly never ending and costly construction of our roads and our beleaguered transportation infrastructure.
Competition is increasing dramatically from foreign countries who wish to attract our talent, both foreign and domestic grads educated here in the USA, many getting their higher education with the help of US taxpayer dollars. The number of “propeller heads”, a.k.a., the savvy entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers “Made in the USA”, are leaving for a more favorable business climate or jobs overseas.
Our foreign competitors are offering much lower tax rates and hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentives to technology business startups and to their highly paid - highly skilled employees. They are advertising a better quality of life, improved infrastructure and a lower cost of living. Our foreign competitors recognize what we increasingly take for granted, which is the huge tax and revenue potential from small business startups, in particular in the technology field; with their disproportionately high numbers and high salaries as it pertains to job creation. This is coupled with the minimal impact on their country’s costly transportation infrastructure.
The now and next generation of Bill Gates’, Larry Emerson’s and Eric Schmidt’s may find our politics too ambiguous, too costly and too unimaginative to breed success here in the USA. There are hundreds of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs right now who are losing the battle against a poor economy accentuated by high taxes and ever increasing regulation. There are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial ventures not even born yet that will never pass the incubation period.
Where should we, the United States of America, concentrate our efforts to keep our existing technology gurus and attract the next generation of “byte heads?” We need to provide education and programs that offer immediate and future tax relief to small businesses and their employees, like a payroll tax holiday. To do this we need to elect government representatives who want less government, who do less for Wall Street, who care less about big government and big union.
We need tech savvy, forward thinking, feet on the ground, “been there, done that” politicians who have missed a few paychecks like the rest of us and who want to do more for small businesses and the working class. Get started by offering existing small businesses and their employees, tax relief with a payroll tax holiday of 6 months or more. Offer new business start-ups, especially technology and software businesses who are Made in the USA and who are 1) less impactful on our transportation infrastructure; 2) provide green technologies; and 3) provide the high end wage earners, which is our future tax base, lower taxes and less government to stay and grow their businesses here in the USA.
"What's right about America is that although we have a mess of problems, we have great capacity - intellect and resources - to do some thing about them."