Credit Union, Powerstate, Implements Document Management Software To Address Risk Management and Enhance Customer Service

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As well as coming in ‘on time’, the organization says that the project is also set to achieve all of the key objectives originally set for it. These deliverables including major contributions to disaster recovery, enhancements to customer service and the reduction of costs associated with hard copy document storage.

With phase-one of its implementation of advanced new document management procedures now complete, South Australian based credit union, PowerState, is confident that the full roll out of these applications will be fully achieved by the targeted date of June 30 this year.

As well as coming in ‘on time’, the organization says that the project is also set to achieve all of the key objectives originally set for it. These deliverables including major contributions to disaster recovery, enhancements to customer service and the reduction of costs associated with hard copy document storage.

A financial co-operative owned by its members, PowerState was established in 1970 originally as the ETSA (Electricity Trust of South Australia) Employees Credit Union. Since that time it has grown steadily to its current level of approximately 33,000 members. And for these individuals, the organization now offers a comprehensive range of savings, investment, loan, insurance, credit card and financial planning services. These being provided through branch offices located in metropolitan, suburban and regional locales within the State.

It was against such a background that, in mid 2005, PowerState undertook a major review of its document management procedures, with three principal issues driving this critical analysis.

As Information Technology Manager Ken Robinson explains, “the first thing we wanted to do was to substantially improve and streamline our disaster recovery procedures. So, for instance, if we had a major fire, how would we recover lost documents? Particularly original paperwork carrying member signatures.

“We also wanted to examine ways of speeding and streamlining various document handling processes where these directly impacted on our responsiveness to customers. This was very much part of our commitment to continual member-service improvement in a business that has become increasingly competitive.

“In additional to that, we were inevitably confronted with one of the most basic of all document management challenges – the high cost of storing an ever increasing volume of member and other records. And while we had certainly looked at off-site storage options, the critical problem there was that we’d not be able to access files in anything like a reasonable timeframe. For instance, if a customer comes in for a new loan, we need to turn up all relevant data on previous loans as quickly as possible. That’s obviously not going to be possible if the required documents are off-site. So it’s an alternative that adds no value to the business. Quite the contrary.”

To address these issues, PowerState examined a range of options based on the scanning of source material into digital format and the introduction of IT software tools to provide fast and efficient access to the stored data.

“Having very precisely specified what we wanted to do and achieve, we then selected Scan Conversion Services (SCS) as our project partner. That choice being made principally because that organization was able to able to fit their capabilities to our specific needs and give us exactly what we wanted”, Mr Robinson said.

In essence, the SCS role is twofold. Firstly, it has supplied and supports the Practical Programs designed Dv TDM document management software that has been installed on the credit union’s in-house computer network. Additionally, and since November 2005, it also has the responsibility for scanning to PDF files the batches of documents sent to them by PowerState on a weekly basis. In all, some one million items of historical source information, which it is deemed critical to have on-line, are passing through this process. As will details of all new members and member transactions as they occur in the future.

With these systems and procedures in place, PowerState now automatically transfers basic member details from its financial management IT system ‘Phoenix’ directly into Dv TDM. This process minimises the need for duplicated manual data input and file set up. It also highlights all documentation that should be associated with any particular member. For example, a mortgage account held on Phoenix would indicate that there should be associated loan documentation for that member. If that is not already scanned into the system, a relevant exception report will be generated.

Following the Phoenix-Dv TDM transfer of information, hardcopy member documents are removed from file and the specific member summary record is located in Dv TDM. A unique barcode document cover sheet, which includes details of the type of document in question and the specific member that it is associated with, is automatically generated. And documents and their cover sheets are then batched together and boxed. Each box also being uniquely numbered and with this ID being recorded so that the precise location of individual files is always known.

Boxes are subsequently couriered to the Scan Conversion Services Adelaide bureau, on a weekly basis, where contents are checked against index sheets and documents are similarly cross-checked to ensure all have the correct cover sheets. All data is then validated against a credit union provided computer master file which facilitates the checking of such key information as customer name, address and date of birth and account number. All valid records are then comprehensively indexed onto a summary CD which is returned to PowerState, again on a weekly basis.

Finally, the resulting image files are transferred back to PowerState where they are loaded into the Dv TDM system and are available to all authorised staff throughout the organization.

As a result of this process, whenever a PowerState staff member uses Dv TDM to reference a member’s account they will have immediate online access to all relevant electronic files and information. They are also able to ascertain, at a glance, if there are any documents not yet online, and if these have been prepared for scanning or are still at the scanning bureau. In any instance, the system will additionally nominate the box in which original hardcopy documents have been placed.

With this entire implementation project now being well progressed, Mr Robinson reports that very substantial benefits are already being achieved.

“We gave our lending and corporate support departments priority in the project and there has been great acceptance and feedback from staff right across the board.

“With complete digital copies of all key documents we have essentially eliminated the risk of loss due to fire. Equally, there will no longer be problems because a file has been lost, misplaced or misfiled.

“We’ve drastically reduced the amount of space needed in-house to store files which directly translates into a significant cost saving.

“And most importantly, we are now able to immediately access records irrespective of where those are in the branch network. This enormously speeds up processes when we dealing directly with members and allows us to do things there and then. For example, among the data that is scanned and available on-line are customer signature images. This means that a whenever a member goes into any branch, their signature can be immediately verified without any delay. Previously branches had to fax signatures for checking, on average a couple of hundred times a week, a process that not only caused delays but was also very time consuming.

“In fact everything is now much, much quicker as we are obviously not continually having to go back and forth to filing cabinets day in and day out. That’s considerably helping staff, further improving customer service and reducing our administrative overheads.”

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Richard Bates
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