Magazine Article | March 1, 1999

High-Tech Solution Delivers Lower Express Mail Expenses

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

First Financial Funding Group completely revolutionizes its operations and saves money ($120,000 annually), time and space through modest investment in a scanning and jukebox solution. Can your company become this efficient?

Integrated Solutions, March-April 1999
First Financial Funding Group is a lending institution, based in Mission Viejo, CA, with 14 branch offices throughout the country. There are 51 people in the headquarters and 188 spread throughout the branches. The company specializes in debt consolidation loans and home improvement loans. These loans are then sold to other large financial institutions.

Handling Loan Applications - The Old Way
Typically, First Financial processes 57 loans per day, and each loan application contains an average of 170 pages of documentation. Because the original documentation must be provided to the final lender, copies of each document had to be made for First Financial's records. This meant that approximately 9,000 documents had to be sent by express delivery from the branch offices to the headquarters each day.

Then, as required by federal regulations, copies of all the documents had to be made. Prior to the high-tech solution, five people spent virtually their entire workdays copying documents on five copying machines. Invariably, documents were misplaced or misfiled, and the entire process was time consuming, tedious and expensive. The costs for the copier paper alone were prohibitive. And, of course, all the document copies had to be stored. Whole rooms were devoted to nothing but the storage of paper documents.

Fortunately, the owner of First Financial Funding Group, James Guest, has a golfing buddy. This friend, Jay Linhart, is a partner in a firm that specializes in installing high-tech document and image management solutions - Matrix Imaging Products LLC. Matrix Imaging is a 12-person organization with annual gross sales of $3.5 million.

When the two men talked about the possibility of installing a solution for First Financial, that company was in the process of moving to a larger facility. Therefore, it made sense to delay the application until after the move was completed. Accordingly, in late summer of 1998, Matrix Imaging applied its solution.

Handling Loan Applications - The New Way
Matrix began by reviewing the process that First Financial was using to store its required documents. Star Simmons, First Financial's accounting manager and networking expert, served as project manager. Matrix Imaging installed two Kodak Digital Science™ 5500 document scanners, which could handle up to 12,000 pages per day apiece.

It added Kofax Adrenaline Image Processing Accelerator boards for image cleanup and Kofax Ascent Capture software to capture and index the scanned documents. It then added OTG ApplicationXtender™ software to track the digitized images and OTG DiskXtender™ software to store the images. Although OTG software is normally used with magneto-optic media, Matrix was able to modify it to handle CDs, as requested by First Financial. The company wanted CDs because they are easy to transfer to different sites. Finally, Matrix applied a Kodak Digital Science CD Library 144 to store, retrieve, and archive the CDs.

The installation itself took less than a day. End-user training, on the other hand, is virtually a continuing process, because Simmons and First Financial keep finding new applications for their new equipment. These include scanning and storing cancelled checks, bank statements, payroll records, tax statements and quarterly reports. Simmons adds that First Financial has begun scanning and archiving its 1996 files and will then scan and archive even older files.

Simmons states that the new solution has virtually revolutionized how First Financial does business. As she put it, "For a modest investment of under $110,000, we have saved literally hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are far more efficient and we never lose any files. Our new system has been a godsend."