Magazine Article | July 25, 2006

Document Scanning, ECM Streamline Credit Union Operations

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

This credit union implemented a departmentalized scanning solution with its ECM (enterprise content management) system to completely eliminate the need for paper documentation to be sent between its branch and home offices.

Integrated Solutions, August 2006

Everyone defines business growth in different ways. Some businesses have goals to grow revenue 10% to 15% every year or two; others have aggressive growth plans to increase their business 50% over three years. Even with different interpretations of growth, few could argue that a 67% increase in business is any small matter. That’s the growth that North Shore Credit Union in Vancouver, British Columbia experienced over four and a half years, increasing its business from $600 million to $1.8 billion in assets. Even more astounding is the fact that the credit union maintained that growth with only a 3% increase in its customer (or member) base. “We’ve been able to do this by looking to operate as leanly and smartly as we can,” says Fred Cook, CIO at North Shore. “Our goal is to achieve STP — straight through processing. So we look to drive out slack in processes.” To achieve this goal, the credit union implemented an ECM solution from FileNet to automate its paper processes and improve accuracy; the ECM solution was a large enabler of North Shore’s growth.

North Shore offers a number of commercial and retail banking products, including mortgages, loans, investments, and lines of credit. The credit union also offers Web banking and IVR (interactive voice recognition), as well as call centers. North Shore extended its Web banking capabilities by creating electronic documents for nearly all of its application forms for loans, mortgages, and other products — customers fill out the forms online, which are automatically routed through the ECM system to the appropriate offices for approval.

Practically the only time paper forms are used at North Shore is when its members come into one of the credit union’s 12 branch offices. The forms the members filled out online are printed off to be signed. In the past, branch employees collected the forms at the end of each day (usually 50 to 200) and mailed them back to the corporate office where administrative employees filed them manually. “This didn’t fit into our plan of streamlining processes,” says Cook. North Shore installed KODAK i160 scanners in all of is branch offices, choosing the model for its ability to handle legal- and letter-sized forms at the speed and volume (a few hundred documents per day) North Shore needed. Now, branch employees scan signed documents with the Kodak scanners, and the documents are automatically indexed and routed through the appropriate workflow process. And, because the documents were printed from the ECM system, there is no challenge of text recognition — all of the information is already where the system knows to look.

North Shore was able to extend its scanner investment to the checks its offices handle. “When people deposit checks, we have to hold the checks,” says Cook. “We keep the physical checks for a day or so, then branch staff scan the checks and send them to a third party data processing center.” To enable staff to view checks after the checks were sent away, North Shore maintained microfiche viewing machines in all of its branches. In addition to the inconvenience and poor quality images this provided, the microfiche component of the credit union’s check handling system cost $20,000 annually.

The Kodak scanners North Shore uses also have check-scanning capabilities, so North Shore’s branch offices began scanning the checks they received directly into the ECM system. The system associates the checks with the appropriate file and makes the check images available online to customers for 30 days. By scanning the checks in-house, North Shore was able to abandon the microfiche service and saved the annual $20,000 cost.

A large part of the reason North Shore was able to grow at the rate it did with such a small increase in its member base is the credit union’s dedication to CRM (customer relationship management). North Shore uses Pivotal CRM extensively in its operations and retains an average of 94% of its business (the industry standard is 74%). The CRM system is integrated with the ECM system and a Microsoft BI (business intelligence) program. The loan documentation in the ECM system is broken down by the CRM system to show the profitability of each customer or what products each customer has. “We wouldn’t have the depth of knowledge we have in our CRM system if it weren’t for the ECM and scanning solution,” says Cook.