We can envision the “Digital Enterprise” where the latest technology has been thoughtfully applied to an organization’s business processes. Standard activities are automated, tasks are routed through the company by a rules based engine, and the human interface is optimized so that people are performing the most creative and valuable work. The entire process is tracked, providing us with accurate costs, cycle times, and performance metrics which are analyzed to elicit new insight about our products, customers, and employees.
“The digitalized paperless process requires much less time to execute, and can be managed and audited systemically”
Vision for Organizations
This is a vision that CIO’s want to present to the executive committee. The business benefits are easily recognizable. Clearly there are cost efficiencies to be achieved with reduced labor requirements, faster throughput, and increased quality. The operating environment becomes more flexible as changes can be effected though reprogramming. The good news is that the technology needed to achieve this goal is readily available including ERP systems, workflow automation, analog-digital interfaces, and to a growing extent advanced document management systems, also known as Enterprise Content Management (ECM).
Challenges in Realizing the Objectives
Of course there are investments in the underlying technology, which can be quite significant. Executive sponsorship and strong leadership are also needed as the transformation to a Digital Enterprise is a major change management exercise. Not to be overlooked is the expertise required to execute this type of program. An organization can attempt to achieve this goal with a very large high-profile project; a risky approach that, if not successful on the first attempt, could derail any future efforts to re-engage.
Journey towards a Paperless Organization
Hudson Valley Bank, is a New York Metro based, midtier financial institution focused on providing high-touch, specialized customer service to small and mid-sized businesses. As CIO of the bank, the executive team and Howard Bruck CIO$ Insight 18December 2015 I decided to take an evolutionary path towards the Digital Enterprise that would move at a pace acceptable to the business with increased spending as we realized more-and-more positive results. The key technology for us was a high-end document management system.
We began our journey in 2007 with, what now seems like, the simplistic objective of transitioning paper files into electronic documents. At that time, we owned Docuware, a mid-level document management system, but were using it on a very limited basis. As no-one in the bank had related prior experience, we hired consultants to design and manage the one time imaging effort. Although we initially retained the paper, it soon became clear that the only right answer was to go 100 percent paperless. After about a year, the project was completed and many people became proficient using the new system. Documents were now never “lost,” although we had a clearer grasp of how many documents were actually “missing” from the legacy process. A natural follow up to this initial project was the requirement to establish a new means of creating and updating the electronic credit files. This allowed us to pursue end-to-end paperless document gathering whenever possible, but also created the need to provide scanning equipment and software solutions at all our end-points. Eighteen months from the start of our first project, we now had a fully functional and efficient new paperless credit file system.
We cultivated the internal expertise to repeat this exercise in other areas of the bank and found many project opportunities to choose from. The first criteria in selecting the next project was the operating department’s willingness to go truly paperless. Some people still did not fully trust the system or were not willing to adjust their work habits and give up the paper. To facilitate the transition we determined that departments moving paperless would standardize each workstation with two large screen monitors.
By 2011, we had several dozen electronic filing cabinets and began seeing a meaningful decrease in paper printing. Physical filing cabinets were being removed. By this time we were also deploying tablets to managers and senior staff. Our criteria for providing an employee with a tablet was that they could no longer bring printed PowerPoints to meetings.
Working with Enterprise Content Management System
In 2012, as part of a separate bank technology initiative, we acquired Onbase from Hyland Software, a high end Enterprise Content Management system. After learning about the capabilities of the software, our team began thinking of more creative ways to leverage the technology. In particular we started to add automated workflows to move electronic documents through a process. Before automation, departments would be required to manually oversee the daily work. The digitalized paperless process requires much less time to execute, and can be managed and audited systemically.
We recently started to exploit even more functionality of our ECM. The Onbase system has a smartphone/tablet interface. Our first project using this new feature was to develop an interface for our customers to sign new account opening documents on a tablet. It is common for our employees to visit customers to open new accounts. Rather than carry a bundle of paper documents to sign, copy, then bring back and file, we now use a tablet, obtain the electronic signature, provide the option to receive disclosures electronically, and automatically add to the Bank’s electronic filing cabinet. Our ECM has become the central technology driving our process improvement initiatives.
So, where are we on the vision of the Digital Enterprise? Our success with our Enterprise Content Management solution along with other technological projects is facilitating our journey down this path. The organization’s expectation is that each new initiative must be supported by a paperless, automated workflow, and data driven solution. The executive team and the organizational culture has created a fully supportive environment. We are now beginning to raise the bar with our customers so that the Bank will be perceived as both a high touch and high technology business partner.