Workflow: Squeeze as Much Value as Possible from Existing Systems and Resources
// May 18th, 2012 // Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Back Office, Credit Unions, Document Management, Enterprise content management, Financial Services, Human Resources, Workflow // Steve Comer
Credit unions are more than thriving with the number of members and accounts shooting up and assets projected to reach $1 trillion by the end of 2012. Tremendous growth, though, doesn’t come without some challenges, too. It puts a lot of pressure on existing processes, systems and resources to keep up – and it means more competition to get ahead. Credit unions are evaluating how to meet these new challenges and squeeze out as much value as possible from existing systems and resources.
One of the first places to look for improvement is processes that rely on paper. Paper isn’t easily shared with other staff members, branches and software systems, it’s at risk for loss, misfiling or damage, and it takes too long to pass paper from person to person.
The only way to remove these roadblocks to efficiency is to turn paper into electronic files and automate paper processes.
Enterprise content management (ECM), also known as document management, is one of the most-effective ways to do that. By converting paper files to electronic documents, ECM provides a single, central place to hold information and easily access it.
Adding workflow to your document management strategy ups the value even more.
Workflow ties together multiple systems, people and processes and automates the complex routing of documents. These solutions are easy to configure and maintain and they save credit unions time and money by decreasing dependency on paper and manual processes.
Because of that, workflow has emerged as one of the most critical components of a successful document management strategy. It automates processes and the routing of documents, so credit unions work faster and more efficiently. It also eliminates documents from being caught in bottlenecks and silos, as well as “floating documents” lingering on desks, all of which significantly affect member service and business process efficiency.
Many credit unions have limited document-based workflow technology already built into their core banking system. While that solution is perfect for some scenarios like opening a new account, there are other business processes, such as in mortgage loan origination, that need a more advanced workflow solution. These core systems are also limited to assisting with only business transaction documents and can’t be leveraged across the credit union in other departments, such as human resources (HR) or accounting.
Document management workflow helps credit unions reexamine their traditional business practices in areas across the organization and implement process improvements. It’s similar to when credit unions began to turn away from batch processing and embraced online, real-time processing. Credit unions led the charge on this front. Similarly, credit unions became one of the first types of financial institutions to realize the powerful impact of automated document retrieval and workflow systems, and are well ahead of the curve.
Workflow built into an ECM system also improves business processes through standardization and automation across the credit union. It prevents mistakes such as slipping up on an Office of Foreign Assests Control check, which could cost a credit union significantly, or HR losing an I-9. It also helps make sure employees can’t lose or bury invoices or incorrectly index a file which can trigger a chain of events and reviews from audit boards – all of which can eventually impact the interest rates on products that a credit union can offer its members.
Paperless workflows also have a direct effect on member service. Tellers on the front line view and process member-related documents and requests with a click of the mouse. Having instant access to member records and documents can typically save staff five to six minutes per transaction and provides an opportunity to instantly offer new products or up-sell these products to members at competitive rates.
Return on investment (ROI) from an ECM solution is typically realized in a year or less by way of reduced paper, saved storage costs and higher levels of member service. Workflow accelerates this ROI with faster, more consistent business processes across your credit union. It is arguably the most valuable component of an ECM system, allowing credit unions and their members to benefit quickly and significantly.