Whatcom Educational CU implements document imaging to ease access, reduce paper
By Kristin Gilpatrick
January 25, 2008
This is Web-only bonus coverage from "Embracing Automation" in the February 2008 issue of CUES' Credit Union Management magazine.
In 2003, Whatcom Educational Credit Union wanted to automate not just operations like lending, but to manage content organization wide, using an automated system to make documentation more readily and efficiently available at all 12 branches and for records management and research departments. At the same time, it wanted to reduce the amount of paper it used and stored.
"We started looking for a document management system because our goal is to get rid of paper," explains Patti Moser, system administrator for the $516 million credit union in Bellingham, Wash. The paperless route was in step with heightened environmental awareness among the Pacific Northwest-credit union's 56,000 members, but it would also save labor and materials costs, she adds.
"Whatcom does 1.5 million member vouchers (transactions) per year and just printing them all is a lot of paper. And, all that paper needs to be scanned, filed, refilled and stored," she explains. "Our vouchers and daily letters were burying us, filling up one cubicle size space per month, and our loan files were close to full. When we went to automation, we were about four cubicles away from running out of office storage space."
The credit union found an enterprise content management system in On Base® from Hyland Financial Solutions, a CUES Supplier member based in Westlake, Ohio, that was already compatible with its core processor, Ultradata, which is owned by Harland Financial Solutions, Pleasanton, Calif.
On Base combines integrated document management, business process management and records management in one application so all reports and documents are integrated with Ultradata, and ready for COLD (computer output to a laser disc) for (disaster recovery) storage.
The system allows credit unions to automate business processes, reduce time and cost, improve efficiency, facilitate sharing of digital content with employees, partners and members, and "addresses governance, risk and compliance needs through the management and control of content from virtually any source, ... creating an auditable, automated event-driven records management solution," explains Michelle Shapiro, industry marketing manager for Hyland Software.
Whatcom Educational CU's system "stores multiple copies of a document, accessible in multiple locations," which saves not just paper but time in retrieving and filing and faxing, says Moser. She adds that automation also "reduces opportunities for human error because there is less shuffling and because the system interfaces with Ultradata and pulls member information" right into the document when an employee first creates it and then embeds "that information with the member's e-signature for storage."
"A member can call, for example, and any employee can get the information, enter it, handle the loan, deposit, etc.," Moser says. "The branch doesn't have to call the research department any more to get a copy; it's available on screen right there, right then."
Whatcom Educational CU continues to incorporate additional aspects of the enterprise content management software, installing a workflow module that, among document-handling features, notifies staff when an awaited document is created and/or is available, as well as a document retention module that purges documents, per original staff instructions, when a document can be destroyed.
has been working well since we introduced e-signature cards and automated reporting
Automation is working well not only operationally, but fiscally too, she adds. "We had an almost 50 percent higher-than-expected return on investment in the first two years," Moser reports. "We projected $98,000 in savings and ended up with $153,000 in the first two years."
The ROI is icing on a cakebaked with less paper, more efficient service to members, and impressive cost savingsthe credit union wants to keep tasting, Moser adds. "We've been expanding automation. We're buying new modules every year and right now are automating debit and credit card service and are preparing to automate collections, too."
A former editor of Credit Union Management magazine, Kristin Gilpatrick is a free-lance writer based in Milwaukee, and the author of a war-history series, The Hero Next Door.
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