Magazine Article | June 1, 2002

Had Your Fill Of Filing Cabinets?

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Armed with forms processing software, the services group for $1.8 billion Capital City Bank anticipates a 25% reduction in filing-related labor.

Integrated Solutions, June 2002

Banks are bastions of security. Vaults, safes, and armored trucks - these symbols of protection are commonly associated with banking institutions. But, despite the insistence on only authorized withdrawals, banks don't have to retain every scrap of paper that goes in.

At Capital City Services Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Capital City Bank (Tallahassee, FL), the vaults for document storage came in the form of more than 100 fireproof filing cabinets. As the bank's central support office, Capital City Services processes paperwork from all 55 locations across 22 counties in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. In its filing cabinets, the services group had been storing all of the documents associated with customer transactions for checking, savings, and credit cards, as well as for loan accounts. Says Cynthia Pyburn, senior VP of bank operations, "A request for a document meant that we had to find it in the filing cabinet, pull it, fax it, and refile it. In some cases we had to photocopy it before we faxed it."

Scan Files For Hands-Off Indexing
To lessen its reliance on paper-based filing and to make documents readily available, Capital City Services brought in SERdistiller, a forms processing software package from SER Solutions, Inc. (Dulles, VA). Staff members now scan documents and forward them electronically to SERdistiller, which classifies documents according to content before extracting text for indexing. The indexing functions alleviate the need for services staff to pull up every scanned document and manually enter information. SERdistiller includes forms recognition tools that accommodate structured, loosely structured, and unstructured forms. Included in the indexing mix that SERdistiller now handles are some particularly troublesome documents. Says Russell Grosvenor, president of Capital City Services, "Loan applications often include materials that are not fixed forms. Documents from insurance providers, for example, can contain different, additional paragraphs and sections."

Keep Staff Working, Not Walking
With SERdistiller now indexing Capital City's documents at an 80% to 85% recognition rate, the staff has to manually index only 15% to 20% of the scanned information. That translates into significant labor savings, considering Capital City Services sends 60,000 documents through the imaging process each month. Those labor savings won't be realized, however, until the bank completes back file conversion of documents formerly stored in paper form. "Once we finish back file conversion, we expect to scan and index documents with a 25% reduction in labor," says Pyburn.

As for the less than 100% recognition rate, Grosvenor explains that 80% to 85% is high enough. "With any recognition product, the key is to be accurate," he says. "When we initially installed SERdistiller, we had higher recognition rates - perhaps in the high 90s. But, there were errors. The 80% to 85% rate we're achieving after retuning the system reflects nearly perfect recognition."

The ability to e-mail documents has also led to faster response to requests. "We used to take up to five days to respond to a non-urgent research request. Today, we respond in as little as five minutes," Pyburn says.

The electronic solution has enabled the services group to scale back paper retention. "We'll never completely eliminate paper," Grosvenor admits. "You have to keep the loan note, for example. You need that if you go to court." Even though Capital City offers comprehensive banking services, it has identified only five or six kinds of paper documents that must be retained. "All others will be scanned, indexed, and then destroyed," says Pyburn.