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Best practices in document imaging were 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, U.S. businesses generate more than two trillion documents.
At our current rate of information exchange, that number will increase every three years. On the average, a credit union manager can spend 30 minutes to three hours a day (three months per year) searching for documents.
Internal intranets have replaced local area networks as the preferred method for businesses to share information. This translates into many more documents and many new document types for credit unions to manage.
To deal with increases in content, document imaging and Computer Output Laser Disk (COLD) have been replaced by Enterprise Content Management (ECM).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.
Plus, privacy policies and ever-increasing regulation and compliance pressures compel credit unions to use ECM effectively to manage their documents.
Best practices for an ECM system must address several key areas:
Ease of use
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.
To compete and to communicate effectively in our new world, documents must be easily accessible to employees from a multitude of sources.
Today many documents are “born digital,” where documents include e-mail, e-mail attachments, text, web content, word processing documents (such as board minutes and spreadsheets for accounting), digital photos, and video.
The web is always on. Members have online banking and can conduct transactions anywhere, anytime. Therefore, credit union employees need access to member documents anywhere, anytime.
With ECM software, branch employees could retrieve images of their ID or signature card for identification purposes. If there’s no ID on file, they could scan it locally at their desk.
Staff can scan loan applications, place them in an electronic folder, notify the credit department to process the application, get it approved and send it back to the branch employee to complete the loan. This can reduce fraud, save time, and satisfy regulatory compliance requirements.
An ECM product can also employ an eSignature application, which allows members 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 can’t be completed until all signatures and initials have been completed.
This saves time, especially if the employee has conducted the signing at the member’s home or office.
eSignature can eliminate or substantially reduce printing costs. The credit union’s eSigned copy is automatically stored to the ECM archive. The member can opt to receive the eSigned documents by e-mail, on a thumb drive, or with printed documents.
eSignature comes with the added benefit that documents no longer need to be printed, signed, and then scanned into the ECM archive. This saves both time and money.
Next: Ease of implementation