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 To deal with the increases in content, document imaging and Computer Output Laser Disk (COLD) has been replaced by Enterprise Content Management (ECM).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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