Managing the paper morass across branch offices is a challenge that every bank faces. Karen Belken thinks she has found a solution.
In December, Belken, data center coordinator at Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank, installed the final module of SERsynergy, an integrated document management system from SER Solutions, Dulles, Va.
SERsynergy allows Orleans, Mass.-based Cape Cod to image a wide range of documents, such as signature cards, corporate resolutions and company documents, trust documents and change of ownership forms, and store them in a central location that can then be accessed through the firm's intranet.
The product allows branch employees to access vital documents via their desktop browser in order to serve clients, even if it's not the client's home branch.
"In the end, we want a seamless operation. We're hoping to make everybody self-sufficient," Belken said.
Although SERsynergy was up and running within a week, the groundwork was laid over the past three years. In early 2000, Cape Cod decided to scrap its optical character reading system, a dated DOS product that no longer met the bank's needs.
"It wasn't robust enough," Belken said. Faxed copies of the documents would have to be microfilmed. "It was not a real pretty permanent storage of item and images."
With 10 branches and three more in the works, the 147-year-old bank was looking for a way to overcome the hard-copy paper trail. Important papers like signature cards were kept in fireproof vaults, which was fine at the branch level but unsuitable for the enterprise.
At the time, the bank was in the midst of converting its core account processing and data warehousing systems to a system from Metavante, Milwaukee, and needed to "get over some other hurdles," Belken said.
Once the conversion was finished, the bank was ready to address document management, and was directed to SER Solutions.
The bank began by installing Reports Module, the first of five modules within SERsynergy. Reports Module automates the report capture and retrieval process, providing branch employees with desktop access to reports, invoices and statements. Once a report is archived, employees can retrieve and display it.
Reports can also be e-mailed, printed or faxed on demand, Belken explains. The module can be installed online, on standalone PCs, or in LAN/WAN environments.
Cape Cod followed with installation of Check Module, which provides online check images and check statements. Users can view both side of the check and they can make notations on the images.
The last module, Document Module, was installed late last year. By providing electronic document imaging management for loan servicing and corporate records, Document Module eliminates the need to store thick paper documents in clunky filing systems. Everything from word processing documents to spreadsheets, scanned documents and Web pages can be stored and then printed, faxed, e-mailed, or exported to another application from the desktop.
This use of "smart" modular electronic architecture allows SERsynergy to expand as the bank's document management needs grow. Over time, Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank can opt to turn on additional features such as remote employee access.
The solution, which was designed specifically for United States-based financial institutions, is now in place at more than 1,700 banks or credit unions.
The document imaging system Cape Cod has built will pay for itself several times over in time saved in the back office, noted Belken. "In the long run we know that it will pay off."
Forms for new accounts or account changes are filled out at the branch and sent to headquarters, where they are vetted for accuracy and entered into the system. The software allows an IT administrator to determine which employees can access the documents via their PC browser. An online software adapter is installed onto PCs remotely, eliminating the need for the four-person technology department to visit each branch.
The system also doubles as a disaster recovery system.
"Since September 11th, the rules have changed. You have to back up documents. This allows us to do that," said Belken. The document can easily be sent to the redundant site that Cape Cod is developing.
While there were no hitches in rolling out the system, the bank initially "had some issues with system speed," said Belken. The issues have since been resolved.
Noting the large volumes of checks that need to be imaged, Belken advises other banks, "Make sure you know what your check volume is. Ensure you have plenty of drive space."
INSTITUTION: Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank
ASSETS: $1 billion
BUSINESS CHALLENGE: Build a central repository for storing electronic documents that can later be accessed at the branch level.
SOLUTION: SERsynergy 3.1 document management software
KEY QUOTE: "In the end, we want a seamless operation. We're hoping to make everybody self-sufficient." - Karen Belken, data center coordinator