A prolonged period of unreliable service from its existing item processing vendor, combined with announced price increases, made contemplating alternatives a no-brainer for Rockland Trust Co., according to Chris McGowan, the Rockland, Mass.-based bank's SVP and IT director, who declines to name the provider. "With our contract expiring at the end of 2010, it created an incentive to consider other options in mid-2009," she says.
Experiences gained during acquisitions had acquainted Rockland ($4.9 billion in total assets) with available technology solutions, McGowan relates. Further, the bank's managed facilities arrangement with FIS for the Horizon core processing platform provided insights into the Jacksonville, Fla.-based vendor's capabilities. "Having the vendor's staff resident on-site provided additional familiarity with FIS," McGowan acknowledges.
After intensively evaluating FIS's solutions, McGowan reports, Rockland decided to deploy three of the vendor's related products and services: ImageCentre for item processing, Output Solutions for statement processing and Distributed Capture for remote deposit capture. Included in the Distributed Capture solution, she notes, was mobile deposit capture, which provided Rockland with a new opportunity.
Ticket to Ride
FIS began the IT integration process in early 2010, with Rockland's business units handling all other conversion chores. Among other tasks, the bank needed to create uniform item tickets from the hodgepodge of homegrown ones "to improve reading and reduce rejection rates," says Michele Rheaume, Rockland's AVP and manager of item processing.
The bank also developed enterprisewide user access profiles, she adds. "Before, few employees had access," Rheaume explains. "The new system enabled self-service, so we established profiles driven by job function and security considerations."
To coordinate the effort, a cross-functional team, composed of Rockland business representatives and FIS staff, met weekly as a group and in subcommittees. "Each subcommittee was very focused on specific aspects of the initiative, such as creating ACH conversion tables for all of our acquired institutions," which was a significant requirement, notes McGowan.
The only real hitch came when Rockland decided to convert back-office processing in two phases, which "caused dual processing of virtually every type of item," recounts Rheaume. "And it produced a large volume of image errors that were very labor-intensive to fix."
Still, all three FIS solutions were operational on schedule in July 2010, permitting Rockland to conduct training throughout its 70 branches and six back-office locations. "We adopted the 'train the trainer' model and established buddy branches," Rheaume says. "Branch-level training occurred in late 2010 to ensure the information was fresh when we cut over at the first of the year."
According to McGowan, the meticulous advance preparations paid off in a successful go-live on Jan. 1, 2011, with mobile capture rolling out subsequently in March. "With so many moving parts, it's a testament to the efforts of our business units and our partnership with FIS that the conversion occurred smoothly, with no customer impact," she says.
And the benefits abound, ranging from increased efficiencies in nightly processing to improved quality of branch imaging, all resulting in significant expense reductions, McGowan emphasizes. "From an IT perspective, integrating the core and item processing is huge," she says. "We receive files faster, run nightly jobs without interruption and are ready earlier in the morning, giving customers more accurate and timely access."
Operationally, it's a similar story, reports Rheaume. "Exceptions dropped from a high of 600 on the heaviest days to no more than about 150 at any time," she says. "Also, customer service is expedited because branches can click on an item for details instead of waiting overnight for us to generate a report. Even monthly statements are generated and delivered faster."
Moving forward, Rockland expects the rewards to multiply. "As we continue mining the depth of the systems' features, we're streamlining operations further," Rheaume says. "And as we gain efficiencies, we can roll out and support new products with minimal staffing impact."
Case Study Snapshot:
Institution: Rockland Trust (Rockland, Mass.).
Assets: $4.9 billion.
Business Challenge: Improve the reliability of item processing and related services.
Solution: Jacksonville, Fla.-based FIS's ImageCentre item processing solution, Output Solutions statement processing service and Distributed Capture remote deposit capture solution.