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Management Strategies

12:35 PM
Judy Ward
Judy Ward
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Delegation of Duties

Mid-State Bank & Trust cuts customer statement production and mailing time in half.

For years, Mid-State Bank & Trust ($2.3 billion in assets) needed 12 staffers to print its monthly customer statements and transport them to a mail house. "We ran four printers, 24 hours a day, to get things ready to go to the mail house," recalls Bill Thomas, VP and information services manager at the bank. "It would almost take three days just to get everything printed."

Further, the Arroyo Grande, Calif.-based bank was not happy with the service provided by the mail house, either. "We were not getting a quick turnaround," Thomas adds. And, "The quality control was not there - pages of one person's statement would end up in another person's statement."

Finding the Right Fit

So the bank began searching in early 2004 for a vendor to provide outsourced services, narrowing the list down to InfoIMAGE (South San Francisco) and a Salt Lake City-based printing company that was, Thomas says, "new to the business."

Bank staffers conducted site visits to each firm. Thomas relates that they were impressed with the 3D bar code InfoIMAGE put on every page, allowing the outsourcer to photograph every document as it went in and out of a collation machine to help eliminate errors. "Accuracy was the big thing," he says. "An added bonus was a really quick turnaround time."

In summer 2005, the bank signed a three-year contract to outsource statement production and mailing to InfoIMAGE. To get ready for outsourcing, Mid-State "tested a lot," Thomas recalls. The bank sent statement information to InfoIMAGE, which would print test statements. Mid-State then would check the test statements for accuracy against statements it had printed in-house on its own printers. The bank started out with small batches at first, and then ultimately tested full runs of end-of-the-month statements for business customers.

The bank also worked with Mitek Systems (San Diego), the maker of its check-imaging system, to create data files that could be encrypted and transmitted to InfoIMAGE. As for IT staff training, Thomas says, "If we spent two hours on that, I would be surprised." The staff simply met briefly to discuss the new process for transmitting information to InfoIMAGE.

Now, the bank preps the statements, encrypts them and sends them by ZIP file to InfoIMAGE's secure FTP site. The vendor reads the files, creates the customer statements and prepares them for pickup at InfoIMAGE by the U.S. Postal Service.

The move has cut statement production and mailing time in half, to three days, says Thomas. "We had five production printers, and now we are down to one," he notes. "I do not have to maintain expensive printers, and I do not have to have people working on weekends to print statements."

The arrangement also frees up the bank's IT staff to monitor Mid-State's overall systems more closely. "It allows us to be more proactive," Thomas says. "If a problem develops, we can fix it before five or six of our branches call in to say that something is wrong."

Mid-State currently is working to outsource production and mailing of customer notices - including notifications of checking overdrafts or a loan payment due - to InfoIMAGE as well. At press time Mid-State was in the testing phase and hoped to start outsourcing notices within two months. "The process is pretty much the same," Thomas says of outsourcing notices versus statements. "If anything, it is a little easier because there are no check images to go with them."

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