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Vicki Gerson
Vicki Gerson
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Fort Billings FCU Shreds Paper with Fortis

Drowning in paper, credit union implements document imaging technology from Westbrook Technologies.

Fort Billings Federal Credit Union (FCU), in Gibbstown, N.J. was drowning in a sea of paper. All the documents-dating back to records from Mobil Oil Company employees and from 42 other newer select employee groups-were piled up in file cabinets and storage bins.

Although the credit union was constantly shredding, that wasn't solving the problem. Even when Fort Billings FCU, with $52 million in assets, moved into a new building in 1996, it still lacked storage space and had to put two tractor-trailers on its property to hold the all of its paper documentation. It was then that management realized that finding an internal network solution was critical. In 1997, Fort Billings FCU sought an imaging-system solution to address its lack of storage space. Through PMI Imaging (Mount Laurel, N.J.), Westbrook Technologies, Inc.'s partner/reseller, Fort Billings FCU found the first answer to its problem.

"Because we wanted better technology we formed a committee to find an imaging system," says Susan Bicking, chief executive officer, Fort Billings Federal Credit Union. "We had three vendors present possible solutions. We were impressed with what PMI had to say from the very beginning and had three formal meetings with them in 1997." The credit union purchased the File Magic system from PMI Imaging, although the software had been created by Branford, Conn.-based Westbrook Technologies . "PMI installed the system, provided our employees with a week of training...and also provides the software support," Bicking says.

File Magic electronically captured, stored and organized documents for the credit union. The committee liked the ease of importing the documents because it allowed everyone in the office to have access to the documents they needed. The imaging system allowed employees to scan all loan documents into the system and then eliminate all of the paper clogging up the new offices.

Moving On

Bicking would have been content to continue using File Magic, but in the spring of 2001, PMI informed the credit union that File Magic would no longer be supported by the developer, Westbrook Technologies. PMI suggested that Fort Billings FCU purchase Westbrook's new upgraded product.

Fortis, the new client/server document management software suite from Westbrook, would allow the credit union to capture and index documents from any source, immediately retrieve and customize files, or work seamlessly with their existing applications so the credit union's information could be located within one system.

"So we re-evaluated everything and PMI did another presentation," Bicking says. "We didn't call in any other vendors because we were so pleased with PMI. We liked what PMI was showing us in Fortis, and we purchased it." Fortis was installed in May 2001. For the transition, employees required just one week of training. Because it operated similarly to File Magic, there wasn't much of a learning curve for employees.

Good-Bye To Green Bar

Six months after the installation, PMI developed a customized-renaming program, allowing employees to image 90 reports per day. Fort Billings Federal Credit Union now downloads all daily, monthly and yearly reports from its main processing system into Fortis. This is an important step, according to Bicking, since the credit union no longer has to keep millions of reports on green bar paper. The credit union uses Canon (Lake Success , NY) scanning stations, from which documents are sent directly to the Fortis imaging system.

Selecting Fortis has provided numerous benefits to the credit union, according to Bicking. For instance, tellers don't have to leave their stations to examine signature cards located in inconvenient file cabinets. Whether checking members' statements or correspondence, all employees share the benefits. "The best part is we've really cut our paper down by three-quarters," she added.

In addition, Bicking pointed out, employees now spend their time servicing customers, rather than shuttling to file cabinets, retrieving paper files and handing them off to someone else. And soon, there'll be clear evidence that Fortis has reduced the credit union's storage costs: When the shredding's done, the two storage trailers will be taken off the property.


Fast Facts

INSTITUTION: Fort Billings Federal Credit Union (Gibbstown, N.J.)

ASSETS: $52 million

BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Image all documents to reduce costs and increase employee productivity

SOLUTION: PMI Imaging (Mount Laurel, N.J.), Westbrook Technologies, Inc (Branford, Conn.).

KEY QUOTE: "PMI installed the system, provided our employees with a week of training...and also provides the software support." - Susan Bicking, Chief Executive Officer, Fort Billings FCU

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