This post also available on the AIIM Capture Community Blog.
Doculabs recently benchmarked six major financial services firms (all of them Doculabs clients) and compared their maturity for managing documents. Here’s a summary of the results. It’s a small sample, but it should be useful to you if you want a snapshot of what those firms are doing right now.
For the evaluation, we defined a number of criteria related to the three major stages of the content lifecycle:
- Capture – getting content and metadata into a system in digital form
- Manage – securely storing content and managing its retention and disposition
- Access – providing users the ability to locate and retrieve content)
For each criterion within these categories, we scored each firm on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 = poor, 3 = average, and 5 = excellent).
Below I outline 14 best practices in financial services for the major stages of the content lifecycle.
Each of the best practices is being successfully implemented by at least one of the evaluated firms. Note, however, that none of the firms we evaluated is implementing all of these best practices yet.
- Distributed capture: The best are capturing all (or almost all) inbound paper documents at the point of receipt in the relevant offices by enabling multi-functional printers (MFPs) and by training staff, minimizing data entry by office staff, and routing images to capture queues located in centralized capture centers to ensure quality control and rapid ingestion of the resultant images into workflows. They expect to follow the same general methodology for mobile (smartphone and tablet) capture.
- Client document upload: One firm, a banking organization, uses a client portal that provides a secure upload utility for clients and their advisors to deliver their electronic documents to the bank or to the relevant unit. This bank uses an awareness campaign to promote the capability to clients and to drive adoption.
- Automated recognition: Organizations that have succeeded with automated recognition did so by rolling it out in stages. They segmented their document types, then started with a few document types, tuning the recognition system and adding more document types over time. The firms which appear to be on the right track for intelligent document recognition (IDR) are following the same careful incremental path that they followed previously to roll out optical character recognition (OCR).
- Moving to front-end capture: Several firms implemented front-end scanning for account opening processes in order to support virtual work teams, flexible staffing, and work re-distribution across sites (which succeeded because of proper taxonomy and attention to user training). But to enable the transition from back-end scanning to front-end scanning, they enabled work-routing and dual monitors for their users. Today, of course, you wouldn’t need dual monitors – just big ones.
- Common repository and virtual folders: Surprisingly few of the firms we evaluated have thoroughly consolidated their repositories. But a few have migrated from multiple disparate repositories to a single platform supporting all product lines, a process which took multiple years, but ultimately minimized duplicates, facilitated document re-use, and enabled references/links to a single document in multiple virtual folders. Many of these firms are in the process of consolidating around two platforms, “big ECM” and SharePoint, where SharePoint is used for non-regulated, non-client documents and for collaboration capabilities. But a subset of these firms is considering a long-term reduction from two platforms to one: SharePoint rather than the traditional ECM products.
- Indexing and taxonomy: The best-in-class firms defined a common but limited taxonomy: a small “essential set” of fields that would be applied to all content, regardless of product line. This allows for consistent results when users search in different contexts from different interfaces and systems.
- Dynamic document management: Most of these firms have standardized on SharePoint. But the best deliver SharePoint in “packages” – standardized sets of capabilities to address different usage patterns. Most use SharePoint for internal document sharing and collaboration (non-client/non-account documents). The best have governance, usage guidelines, and an enterprise taxonomy in place.
- Workflow: The leaders have migrated to a single workflow engine to manage and automate processes across multiple product lines, and have redesigned their processes for the digital environment (rather than replicate the original paper-based processes).
- Electronic records management: The best are using (not just planning to use or partially using) records management and storage management capabilities to enforce retention and disposition on electronic documents. A couple of the firms are using de-duplication to reduce document storage volumes by about 20 percent.
- Moving from paper to electronic records: About half of the firms we evaluated have done a good job in revising their policies to accept more electronic documents as records and to minimize the need to retain paper. These firms have also implemented day-forward processes to classify images as records immediately upon ingestion, and to destroy originals after a short period of time.
- Backfile conversion: A couple have analyzed the backfile paper documents in their field offices and have identified those that could be destroyed. For those documents requiring retention, the leading firms convert only the paper files that are “active” or that have a high likelihood of being requested. The remainder that are neither destroyed nor converted are sent to offsite storage (e.g. Iron Mountain) for long-term retention.
- Viewing: The leaders have moved the entire organization to a thin portal/web-based user interface for repository access, reducing front-end development, customization, and maintenance efforts.
- Document access: Users in the leading firms for this category access documents from a single “virtual vault,” with security to restrict them from seeing the existence of documents they are not authorized to view.
- Search: About half have improved search results by consolidating documents into fewer repositories, indexing the content with more metadata fields, and building a full-text index of the content. None are pursuing a “universal enterprise search” strategy.
Note that in this assessment we didn’t dig into social business collaboration, cloud usage, and mobility. The ECM areas we were primarily concerned with are the basic blocking and tackling for ECM in financial services. We plan to address the emerging areas next.
And I’d wager that there will be a strong correlation between success-versus-failure in the traditional ECM areas and the newer areas. If a firm hasn’t been able to pull off an effective imaging operation after 10 to 20 years, it’s unlikely it will have a best-in-class social business collaboration initiative. There are two reasons for this:
First, the specific technologies are just a fraction of what you need in place in order to have a successful ECM or social enterprise program, and the firm’s programmatic effectiveness in one area (e.g. ECM) usually strongly predicts how they’ll do in related emerging areas.
Second, many of the most effective mobile-and-social initiatives start out by first enhancing already successful ECM deployments. I explain how they do this here.