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ECM: How to Do More With Documents Than Just File Them Away

Enterprise content management systems present banks with an opportunities to create competitive advantage by leveraging data as an asset. But defining business goals is critical to realizing ECM's value.

Getting There: Building Capabilities

Nara Bank is a Los Angeles-based institution with $2.9 billion in assets that serves the Korean-American community on the West Coast and in New York and New Jersey. The bank has been rolling out an enterprise content management solution over the past year and a half. "The reason why we started looking at this type of technology was because we had an initiative to make the bank more efficient," relates Mona Chui, the bank's IT manager. "In the past the bank was paper based, and we realized that wasn't going to work."

Noting that one of the biggest gains from incorporating ECM has been the ability to transport documents from location to location faster, Chui says Nara Bank's solution, from Long Beach, Calif.-based LaserFiche, was not difficult to install, but that the bank had to determine how to meet compliance requirements and establish a workflow that made sense. It took Nara Bank between six and nine months to customize, install, test and deploy the new ECM, she adds, and once the tool was ready, a good deal of time was dedicated to scanning existing documents into the system.

"The other thing we are going through is, we're taking all the internal forms and creating electronic forms," Chui adds. "With the electronic forms, we are able to send those through the system."

Westfield Bank's Weibel points out that in addition to establishing business requirements and workflow, successfully installing an ECM system means allocating enough space to store all of the new data. "We planned ahead for the storage," he says. "Storage is always a challenge; backup is always a challenge. We scaled large from the beginning, and that's really paid off."

Next Steps: Innovation

But simply installing an enterprise content management system and uploading electronic documents to it is not enough. To get the most out of an ECM system, LECG's Ruckh says, a bank needs to examine what information the ECM is capable of managing and, ultimately, how to gain value from it.

"What's happening more and more is, people are starting to realize it's not just paper [that needs managing]," Ruckh adds. "So what are we defining as our content that we're trying to manage? It's files. It's data. When we say 'enterprise content management,' that includes data." And that's where the innovation really begins, he suggests.

While Nara Bank is using its new ECM to create and distribute electronic forms for easier coast-to-coast collaboration, for example, Westfield Bank is using its content management system to improve security. Westfield is leveraging its ECM technology to add a new layer of security afforded by employee access rights to information and a concrete audit trail that shows exactly when various documents are accessed and by whom, according to the bank's Weibel. "We're fairly unique in how we use this," he contends, describing how the bank has built the ability into its ECM technology to record and store voice records to verify commercial transactions.

Westfield Bank also is using its ECM capabilities to secure commercial clients' wire transactions. As an added layer of protection for commercial clients conducting wire transfers, in addition to signing and sending a form to Westfield, which uploads the document to its content management system, they also can verify the transaction by leaving a voicemail, which is converted into a WAV file, verified and stored electronically with the signed transfer order, Weibel reports. Content management no longer means merely paper storage; it's the organization of all data, regardless of file type, he notes, adding that it's just a matter of adjusting the ECM system to accommodate various data formats.

"Businesses are saying they need to look at what their data is, and they realize they need to use it as more than information, but as an asset," LECG's Ruckh explains.

"[Content] is constantly growing, it's constantly changing," adds Westfield Bank's Weibel. "[Content management] will never be done because there's always new information, there are always new media types coming in. And there are always new processes."

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