Repair Fractured Storage Strategies

Credit unions are built around helping members accomplish their goals by providing better and more customized services than other financial providers. For today’s members, this translates into real-time access to everything. “Self-service” and “omni-channel” aren’t just buzz words, they are the new normal (Bluepoint Solutions).

In this reality, documents such as loans, receipts and financial statements must be available everywhere: in the branch, from the call center and through various digital channels. And, if you are like the majority of credit unions, you’ve replaced your paper-based systems with digital, at least some of them, so you’re able to deliver, right? I doubt it. Your systems are getting older. They’re probably not comprehensive. Chances are, they don’t play well together. The fact is, you may have some good systems, but the instant response times your members expect can completely break down if all member-related documentation isn’t stored together.

For example, suppose a member—let’s call her Maria—comes into the branch needing copies of financial statements, some transaction receipts, and home loan records. Some of what she wants may be readily accessible, but more often, your employee will spend a lot of time—maybe an hour, possibly stretched out over multiple days and physical locations—to go to the statements section of imaging, search for Maria’s paperwork, print or save those documents, and then repeat this process for loans and receipts. This laborious process wastes employee time and, worse, disappoints Maria, who leaves the branch empty-handed.

How did we get here?

When document imaging was first introduced to credit unions, files were organized to mimic how paper documents were being used, and they wound up in silos, or grouped along department lines. Such file structures made the transition from paper to digital much easier for credit union employees. If they needed a loan document, they would search the loan section of the imaging system, just as they would previously have looked in the loans file cabinet in the branch.

Unfortunately, the silos that delivered an easy digital transition perpetuated the inefficiencies inherent in the paper filing systems they replaced. The longer ago you installed your systems, the more likely this is to be the case. According to a 2014 study, 69% of credit unions are using a document imaging system that is more than five years old, and more than 81% also still use paper-based systems along with their electronic ones (Bluepoint Solutions).

Five years is a very long time in the life of electronic systems and devices. To put it in perspective, look at another familiar technology. Launched in 2010, Apple’s iPad was the first widely adopted tablet device. This year, Gartner predicts that tablet sales will outstrip PC sales. Technology doesn’t remain static and neither do the habits of its users. Just as few of us still sit at our desks every time we use our tablets, it makes little sense to continue to use document management technology that perpetuates legacy, highly fractured, physical and digital data silos. 

Manage documents the way you conduct business.

Up-to-date document imaging systems have moved away from department-centric or file type-centric to member-centric file structures, which place every document for a single member into that member’s file, regardless of type or origin—receipts, loans, statements, member cards, even audio or visual recordings. Member-centric systems are the key to giving authorized employees immediate access to any member information they need, just by searching the member’s number or name.

In addition, with a member-centric system, employees now have access to a holistic view of the member’s relationship with your credit union, potentially turning every interaction into an opportunity to build and deepen this relationship.

Better than new.

Back in 2012, Blue Eagle Credit Union, with four branches in the Roanoke, VA area and 11,650 members, needed a faster way to respond to members. The credit union had spent the last several years replacing two paper-heavy processes with an electronic loan origination system and e-signature services. But the majority of its documents were still paper and were stored by type in the originating branch location. In 2013, the credit union implemented an enterprise content management (ECM) system based on a member-centric file structure. They succeeded in increasing member response time and service levels, and watched as their members visited any branch and left with all the information and paperwork they came for. No more multiple trips to the branch for members; no more multiple file searches for employees. Read more about Blue Eagle’s journey in the full case study.

The bottom line about member-centric systems.

Remember Maria, who had to wait hours or days for the credit union to search its fractured storage silos and compile her statements, receipts and loan documents? Consolidating all of these different documents into a single, member-centric file saves hours of labor (costs) and turns Maria’s disappointment into cheerful satisfaction.

This was Part 2 of a 5 part series about capturing waste in unexpected places, setting your resources free to attract and serve your growing membership.

Part 3 in this series tackles myths about centralized scanning, adding modern technology and system capabilities to your perspective.

Sign up to receive this series of articles delivered to your inbox each week. You will also receive a technology evaluation checklist which you can use to compare your own current system to today’s industry best practices. The checklist makes a useful guide for creating an RFP and selecting a document imaging system vendor.