There’s a great series on the History Channel, called “Life After People”. The series explores what happens to our cities, buildings and bridges without people to maintain them. In just days, our very infrastructure we take for granted, our tunnels and subways will become flooded. Transportation will cease. Power will be cut. Our planet begins to look like this (click on thumbnails).
Here is a trailer to the series. Living After People.
Most of our competitor’s Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions, a.k.a., document imaging or COLD, are considered ancillary (secondary) products. What happens when your provider’s resources are pulled from ECM product development to concentrate their resources on their core competency?
There's a series is in the works, it’s called “Living without Legacy”. It’s about living with an erosion in talent; living with meager or no updates; living with Band-Aid fixes (patches).
Moore’s Law, named after the founder of Intel is about the trends in technology and innovation. While Moore’s Law (click on thumbnail view) addresses transistors, processors and memory devices face similar growth. These devices impact the software development business in a very big way.
Software development is our business and we know software is never done. You have to update constantly to keep up with the latest technology. Otherwise it will end up like the Golden Gate Bridge. Underwater.
If you are living with legacy, you won’t be able to take advantage of the latest web technology. And just like hair extensions, don’t be fooled by web extensions. Like the world's underground of tunnels and subways, the underlying technology behind web extensions is client-server - (legacy) based. If and when available, what will it cost you to upgrade to the latest web-server technology of your ECM product? It just may be time to find out.
Technology is not slowing down, it’s speeding up. The faster technology changes the faster software applications must change to keep you competitive in your industry.
Integra Business Systems, Inc. develops ECM products for financial institutions and the financial services industry. We own our technology. We develop in ASP.Net and .Net. Our iDentifi.net (follow link) product line is web-based.
To learn more about the products you need and best practices, go to the post, Imaging Horsepower, a post on this Blog which has appeared in both ICBA Magazine and online at Credit Union Magazine.
iDentifi.net customers live without legacy. To us ECM is not our ancillary, it’s our occupation.
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A successful ECM implementation means credit union staff must find the software easy to use. An ECM application using the ubiquitous browser is a good choice for searching for documents. Who isn’t familiar with the Internet browser? This reduces the cost and time to train employees, especially in positions with high turnover.
As a contributor to the article, Wiessner made the following observations..., "To get a more accurate ROI, community banks should calculate both the hard and soft costs of their current operations and compare those with the costs and savings after investing in an imaging system, vendors advise. "The greatest ROI in deploying an ECM system today is in reducing labor costs by increasing the efficiency of processing and retrieving documents;' offers Alan Wiessner, chief executive of Integra Business Systems Inc., a document imaging provider in Safety Harbor, Fla.
"Banks often discount these soft-cost savings because they fail to recognize they can either eliminate or repurpose employees to reduce costs or to increase productivity, which is essential for growth:' Reducing or eliminating printing costs provides the best ROI in terms of hard dollars savings, Wiessner says. These costs include faxing, copying and distributing paper, estimated at 6 to 14 cents a page, depending on the printer, fax or copy machine used. "But banks don't always know the true amount of these costs because of all the shadow copies employees may be making;' he says. Those are the copies of documents that employees may be making;' he says. Those are the copies of documents that employees in the branches or other areas of the bank make so they don't have to take the time to retrieve documents from the bank's legacy systems in its centralized operations. Sometimes it can take days, but customers needing information off of those documents won't tolerate waiting:'
By potentially eliminating these shadow costs, the costs of hardware such as multifunction printers or scanners can often be easily justified, Wiessner continues. One example he gives: Desktop scanners can cost less than $1,000 for each branch. ROI should come within 6 to 18 months of implementation of an enterprise content management system, particularly if it's a Web based system.
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Best practices in document imaging was defined by large, clunky and expensive scanners for images and optical jukeboxes for storage. In the early 2000s centralized scanning and research was the norm due to limitations in networking technology and the associated hardware costs.
Desktop computing has morphed into notebook computers and mobile devices. Every year American businesses generate over 2 trillion documents. At our current rate of information exchange that number will increase every three years. On the average, a community bank manager can spend 30 minutes to three hours a day (or three months per year) searching for documents.
Internal intranets have replaced local area networks as the preferred method for businesses, including community banks, to share information. This translates into many more documents and many new document types for banks to manage. To deal with the increases in content, document imaging and Computer Output Laser Disk (COLD) has been replaced by Enterprise Content Management (ECM).
More documents to manage on internet time means availability and access to documents must be fast and secure. Lower-priced scanners and the proliferation of multifunction printers make it easier to capture documents at their source. Add privacy policies, ever increasing regulation and compliance pressure, compel community banks to use ECM effectively to manage their documents. Best practices for an ECM system must address several key areas.
A successful implementation of ECM means the bank employee must find the software easy to use. An ECM application using the ubiquitous browser is a good choice for searching for documents. Who isn’t familiar with the internet browser? This reduces the bank’s cost and the time to train employees, especially in areas of high turnover. It can be as easy as the “Back” button. To compete and to communicate effectively in our new world, documents must be easily accessible to bank employees from a multitude of sources. Today many documents are “born digital,” where documents include e-mail and e-mail attachments, text, Web content, word processing documents (such as board minutes and spreadsheets for accounting), digital photos and video.
Fresh off the presses, this post also appears as an article titled "Imaging Horsepower" that appears in September 2010 ICBA Magazine. It emphasizes best practices and it certainly plays to our strengths! Warning, it's a yawn if you're not looking to add ECM or improve your current ECM solution.
The Web is always on. Bank customers have online banking and can bank anywhere and at anytime. Bank employees need access to customer documents too, anywhere and anytime. With ECM software a bank employee in a branch could retrieve an image of their ID or Signature card for identification purposes. If there was no ID on file they could scan it locally, at their desk. They could take an application for a loan, scan the application and ID to an electronic folder, notifying the credit department to process the application, get it approved and back to the branch employee to complete the loan. This can reduce the chance of fraud, satisfy regulatory compliance, such as the USA Patriot Act and save the customer time.
An ECM product can also employ an eSignature application which allows bank customers to eSign deposit and loan documents. Instead of printing to a laser printer the print job is sent to the eSignature application. All pages appear on the display for signing on a digitizing pad or tablet PC. One major advantage to an eSignature solution is the capability to predefine all signature areas, initials and number of signers on a document or document set. The signing process cannot be completed until all signatures and initials have been completed. This saves time, especially if the bank employee has conducted the signing at the bank customer’s home or office.
eSignature can eliminate or substantially reduces printing costs. The bank’s eSigned copy is automatically stored to the ECM archive. The customer can opt to receive the eSigned documents by e-mail, on a thumb drive or the documents can still be printed after the signing. eSignature comes with the added benefit that bank documents no longer need to be printed, signed and then scanned into the ECM archive. This saves both time and money.
Community banks rely heavily on IT for the latest and greatest technology necessary to compete with larger banks and comply with ever increasing government regulation. An ECM application that is easy to deploy (one click installation) and receives unattended updates via a secure Web server is ideal for a busy IT department. ECM applications, once written for the desktop PC (legacy applications), are now written for the Web. Today’s ECM platform should include one-click technology to deploy the ECM application across the enterprise to multiple locations easily and efficiently. Again, time and money saved.
Many community bank branches have invested in multifunction printers, which include the ability to scan documents. An ECM system can compatible with MFP devices is a plus. The availability of bar-coded documents from most new account and loan origination vendors make scanned documents easier to identify and archive. Documents can be captured (imaged) in the branch, then indexed and store centrally by the ECM system and accessed by any user across the enterprise who has been given the rights to access them.
The ability to drag and drop “born digital” documents into the ECM system, easily identify and file these documents from a multitude of sources is essential.
Some would argue making documents available via the browser is risky. Which is more secure? A file folder on someone’s desk or encrypted documents in a secure file folder stored on a secure server in a secure location accessible only via a private network? Many community banks have multiple lines of business, which require multiple levels of document security. For example, someone in new accounts may not be allowed to access loan documents. Other personnel may need to access both new accounts and loan documents but only customer related documents. They may need to be restricted from access to employee only documents and human resources. With an ECM system, multiple layers of user security down to the document level is possible. Only the persons that have been given the rights to view the document can view it.
Internal audits as well as audits from state and federal governments can be conducted much more quickly and efficiently with ECM. An ECM system that employs document tracking allows the bank to define which documents are needed for every type of deposit or loan transaction. Document tracking can determine if all the associated documents have been archived or if documents are missing. Reminders are created and e-mail or printed notices are sent when a recurring document (such as financial statements or certificates of insurance) is needed. If documents are missing reports, notices are sent to the responsible bank employees and managers. Logs show an audit trail.
Your ECM vendor must produce and keep current, a vendor management package. The package must include information such as SAS70 certification, audited financials, a security agreement, acceptable use policy, password policy, termination policy and a disaster recovery plan, to name a few documents and policies required by community banks from their ECM vendor.
An ECM system should include a log that will record when a document has been viewed, printed, e-mailed or whether a document has been revised. It will display by default the current version of the document and also keep older revisions. Document retention policies can be set on each document type as to the length of time the documents are will be viewable, when they are moved to long term archive or when they are destroyed.
Documents will not be moved or destroyed without the administrator of the ECM system being notified and given the option to change the document(s) status. Any eSigned document that is altered will cause the eSignature to be replaced by a large red “X” in the signature areas.
A co-location facility is recommended to be either manned by a third-party provider with the technical skills to back up your mission critical applications and be located within one day’s vehicle travel from the primary facility. Community banks that may not be able to take advantage of the latest ECM technology due to cost or lack of IT resources can employ an ECM solution from a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider. Most SaaS models will include disaster recovery which essential to an ECM deployment in today’s world of regulation, compliance and security.
ECM software can cut down on the cost of printing, reprinting, faxing, postage and courier runs. If everyone across the enterprise has the ability to view the documents they need, there is no need to keep “shadow” copies of the documents and files in multiple locations. This saves money and also makes for good press. Community banks that already have a “Go Green” initiative or wish to implement one can say with confidence their ECM product saves trees.
It’s time to put the brakes on government spending. The road to recovery lies with the success of small businesses, not with behemoth car companies and big labor. If we were going to bailout anyone, we should have bailed out the car dealerships and auto supply companies to allow them to remarket, retool and invest in new technologies. We should be growing our tax base, which is only going to happen if we fuel the small business private sector. Speaking of which, why are we not doing more to grow and keep promising small business technology companies and their technology jobs in the USA, where our best talent and our best jobs can remain right here at home?
"You will find men who want to be carried on the shoulders of others, who think that the world owes them a living. They don't seem to see that we must all lift together and pull together." Henry Ford
We have Bill Gates and Microsoft, Larry Ellison and Oracle; and Eric Schmidt and Google, not to mention a plethora of phenomenal technology and software companies that started from nothing and today generate thousands upon thousands of high paying private sector jobs and tax revenues, all “Made in the USA.”
What’s more, most technology companies, in particular software companies, do little to harm our ecology (true green); they do not tax our ports, our roads, our bridges or our rail. This reduces our carbon footprint, while not adding to the tremendous and costly burden on the seemingly never ending and costly construction of our roads and our beleaguered transportation infrastructure.
Competition is increasing dramatically from foreign countries who wish to attract our talent, both foreign and domestic grads educated here in the USA, many getting their higher education with the help of US taxpayer dollars. The number of “propeller heads”, a.k.a., the savvy entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers “Made in the USA”, are leaving for a more favorable business climate or jobs overseas.
Our foreign competitors are offering much lower tax rates and hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentives to technology business startups and to their highly paid - highly skilled employees. They are advertising a better quality of life, improved infrastructure and a lower cost of living. Our foreign competitors recognize what we increasingly take for granted, which is the huge tax and revenue potential from small business startups, in particular in the technology field; with their disproportionately high numbers and high salaries as it pertains to job creation. This is coupled with the minimal impact on their country’s costly transportation infrastructure.
The now and next generation of Bill Gates’, Larry Emerson’s and Eric Schmidt’s may find our politics too ambiguous, too costly and too unimaginative to breed success here in the USA. There are hundreds of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs right now who are losing the battle against a poor economy accentuated by high taxes and ever increasing regulation. There are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial ventures not even born yet that will never pass the incubation period.
Where should we, the United States of America, concentrate our efforts to keep our existing technology gurus and attract the next generation of “byte heads?” We need to provide education and programs that offer immediate and future tax relief to small businesses and their employees, like a payroll tax holiday. To do this we need to elect government representatives who want less government, who do less for Wall Street, who care less about big government and big union.
We need tech savvy, forward thinking, feet on the ground, “been there, done that” politicians who have missed a few paychecks like the rest of us and who want to do more for small businesses and the working class. Get started by offering existing small businesses and their employees, tax relief with a payroll tax holiday of 6 months or more. Offer new business start-ups, especially technology and software businesses who are Made in the USA and who are 1) less impactful on our transportation infrastructure; 2) provide green technologies; and 3) provide the high end wage earners, which is our future tax base, lower taxes and less government to stay and grow their businesses here in the USA.
"What's right about America is that although we have a mess of problems, we have great capacity - intellect and resources - to do some thing about them."
You can save a tree and save money! It’s true. Eliminate paper and you’ll improve the bottom line. It’s also true that if a vendor says they’ll get rid of every scrap of paper in your office you should run the other way!!! “Document nirvana” aside, there are many things your organization can do right now to cut costs, manage compliance and improve access to critical information by eliminating paper from each process.
This is a comment from one of our customers, "How did we ever do business without the ability to retrieve at the stroke of the keyboard every record in our operation instantly without worrying about looking through file cabinets and charts that were outgrowing the space we had in our office? And we had a great filing system compared to other medical operations!”
Document management has been around for years but often people think of it as just scanning checks or old paper archives. In fact, many folks implement a new system but continue to do everything else exactly the same as before. The only difference is that documents are now located inside electronic file folders instead of traditional ones. While that makes it a bit easier to find something, a true document management system is capable of so much more in the drive to become paperless.
Another comment after going paperless, "The purchase of their system has allowed us to no longer store the voluminous amounts of paper that is indigenous to a medical practice. We estimate that the use of the identifi.net system has allowed us to store and instantly retrieve in excess of 1.5 million page equivalents. In the past, we needed 1 full time FTE plus ~1000 sq. ft. of filing/storage space plus the necessary supplies to create tens of thousands of file charts, etc. Additionally, there were immeasurable man-hours in pulling charts/files, looking through them for the applicable data and then copying the information needed. Today, we are able to administer our entire system with 0.20 FTE, no significant material costs, and instantaneous retrieval from every work station in our office. Additional hard disk space was one of our few other costs. We still have a number of lateral files that we would be happy to sell at fire sale prices!" Jeffrey Grossman, KG Health Partners
Duane Ryder is a talented software developer who works on the Integra product development team. While he’s worked on many projects over the last six years, his most recent work has been on the release of iDentifi.eSign 3.0. This groundbreaking new version was launched in late 2009 and has been very successful in both small and large scale applications. eSign 3.0 was recently deployed as a paperless tax filing solution with Jackson Hewitt running on over 6,000 stations! The iDentifi.eSign product has already been used to successfully sign over 14 million documents. "I was honored to be part of the Jackson Hewitt project at Integra. Being able to deliver this product to their enormous client base in such a tight timeframe is a real testament to the team's dedication to quality."
When he’s not building innovative eSign solutions, Duane enjoys working on various DIY projects, motorcycling or bicycling. Duane is an avid cyclist and has ridden as part of the iDentifi team to help fight multiple sclerosis in the MS 150 Citrus Tour, as well as local charity rides. He also enjoys woodworking in his basement workshop, where he’s built several high quality furniture pieces for his friends and family.
Duane, far right, rode 150 miles for bikeMS with Team iDentifi in 2007, 2008 and 2009 across Central Florida. Team iDentifi was formed by Integra Business Systems, Inc. to raise funds and awareness for a cure to Multiple Sclerosis. Duane is planning to ride bikeMS in Raleigh, NC this year.
Duane lives near Raleigh, NC with his wife Shelly, their two Boston Terriers, EZ and Mandy, and their rescue cat Abby.