Originally published on CU Insight on November 13, 2014

By Andrew Tilbury

Document imaging systems are meant to be tools for improving credit union operations and empowering employees to provide better service to members. However, a survey conducted last year showed that 75% of the credit unions surveyed reported running a document imaging system that was at least five years old. The same survey found that there is nearly universal dissatisfaction with these legacy systems and as well as widespread acknowledgement of multiple pain points related to maintaining and using them. While often still perceived as functional, these systems have become obsolete and require inefficient workarounds that sap employee time and productivity and, ultimately, result in subpar member service levels. Just because a system works, doesn’t mean it works well.

Looking for documents does not create value for the credit union or the member: neither does scanning them, transporting them, losing them, or recreating them. Each minute spent on these repetitive tasks actually destroys value for the credit union by preventing employees from providing service to members, marketing and selling products, and building deeper relationships. Cabrillo Credit Union serves as a role model to credit unions looking to recapture wasted employee time and redirect resources to focus on serving member needs. To combat these challenges, the credit union recently completed a 5-year strategic initiative to transform its information systems, including a core conversion, installing an electronic signature system, and replacing a 10-year old document imaging system. According to Cabrillo’s CTO, Frankie Dueñas, “Document imaging is as important to us as our core processor.”

Since completion of the multi-stage process, the credit union was able to achieve creation of a 20% surplus in employee time previously spent on printing and scanning documents at each branch, now redeployed to member-facing roles. The consolidation of cumbersome, multi-step, multi-employee tasks into a seamless, single-step, automated process freed employees from administrative tasks, allowing them to focus on the members they are serving. Employees can now redeploy lost productivity time towards value-creating activities such as resolving member requests faster and building stronger relationships with members in the branch or on the phone.

Antiquated, obsolete document imaging systems are the cause of many inefficient processes; they often destroy more value than they create, hindering optimal member service, wasting employee time, and preventing adoption of efficient processes. Credit unions need to look for problems that they might not know they have and understand the ways in which their current imaging systems are hurting employee productivity and member service. By identifying and understanding pain points, credit unions can apply solutions that allow them to refocus on creating value for members.