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Wilmington Trust Begins Paperless Initiative

A half-million dollar investment in workflow automation software is paying off for Wilmington Trust.

A half-million dollar investment in workflow automation software is paying off for Wilmington Trust. Using the e-work platform from Metastorm, the$26.8 billion institution plans to save money by reengineering paper-based procedures.

"Some of our processes are labor intensive to the point where there are people just doing the manual tasks of entering and reentering data," said Susan Stinson, vice president of IT service and support at the Wilmington, Del.-based bank. "In those cases we'll see the true dollar impact. In others it will probably be a little softer."

Working with Severna Park, Md.-based Metastorm, Wilmington Trust is rooting out inefficiencies in its workflow processes. "We inventoried 120 forms that were part of 90 processes," Stinson said. "We wanted to not just get rid of the paper, but look at the process overall. So we're doing some business processing reengineering, as well as moving the paper to the computers."

"Overall, this is a pretty significant investment for us," she added. "We looked for two types of forms, one that would be used by everybody and one that would have an impact on one of our key lines of business."

The initial focus is on automating internal and Internet enrollment forms, followed by forms customers now complete at branches. "Customers will be able to pick up those forms automatically, complete them, and route right into our system to the appropriate people," said Stinson. The goal is to have 100 e-work forms in use by the end of the year.

What attracted Wilmington Trust to e-work was its flexibility. "You can find tools that help you build maps, and you can find tools that help you build forms. But to have in one tool the ability to have any business person create the process and then work with a programmer to create the form is really powerful," Stinson explained.

Software-defined maps automatically route forms through a process, eliminating paper as well as bottlenecks. Forms can be coded to account for the business impact of delays. For example, if a manager hasn't taken action in two days, a reminder can be sent, or the form can be escalated or sent to a peer. There's also a watch list indicating where the form is sitting in the process at any given time.

Before installing the product, the bank ran a pilot involving automation of travel and expense reporting, and a tracking system to follow new and lost business. After the pilot was completed last fall, the project went to senior management for final approval. The rest of the year was spent completing coding of the pilot forms and conducting an enterprise-wide inventory of forms and processes.

The groundwork had been laid two years ago, when Wilmington Trust moved its entire enterprise to a Windows NT platform, standardizing on Microsoft Exchange for e-mail and Internet Explorer for its 2,500 desktops.

Stinson said, "Once we got the standard platform in place, we decided now is the time for us to look at all of our at least 200 paper-based forms and find a way to get rid of paper in our environment."

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