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Comerica Competes by Kicking Up Check Processing

Bank uses Meta Software modeling tool to improve its check processing environment.

The competition among banks is heating up, according to Comerica Bank. But when the going got tough, the bank decided it wasn't going anywhere but to Meta Software to implement a check processing solution.

Comerica (Detroit, $53 billion in assets) was looking for a strategy to compete with larger banks and optimize its efficiency in processing checks. In order to achieve these goals, the bank added a Meta Software (Cambridge, Mass.) workflow and simulation modeling solution to its integrated suite of applications in its operations environment, according to Paul Obermeyer, senior vice president and director of operation services, Comerica Bank.

"[In] the banking industry [it] is becoming increasingly difficult for midsize banks to compete with the behemoths that are being created," says Obermeyer. "In order for us to compete, we need to be better and smarter."

The Meta Software Payment Enterprise Model (E-Model) application merges the operational and financial components of the bank's payment processing enterprise and analyzes and projects the impact of future changes. This simulation model was implemented and molded into a number of other solutions that the bank uses to run its check processing operations, says Obermeyer.

"We have built an integrated suite of applications of which Meta software is a critical part - but is not the only part," adds Obermeyer. "We are not only able to model the environment, but we capture the actual activity within the environment for modeling and simulating the environment."

Other components of the bank's integrated enterprise suite, called the Enterprise Labor Optimization (ELO) solution, include Chelmsford, Mass.-based Kronos' Workforce Timekeeper for time and attendance, Workforce Smart Scheduler for automated scheduling and Workforce Decisions for labor analytics.

Prior to implementing Meta Software's modeling solution, Comerica was basically relying upon a combination of management experience and in-house-built rudimentary models to address changes in the bank's check processing environment, Obermeyer explains.

The bank initially planned to add Meta Software's workflow and automation tool to the ELO solution in the beginning of 2003. In July, the institution started the integration of the labor activity tracking suite and, by the end of the year, it went live with all modules, says Obermeyer.

Comerica finalized its decision to implement Meta Software's modeling solution because the bank was familiar with the vendor and felt the solution was the necessary addition to its ELO to make it a leader in the industry - in an environment that will soon be changed drastically by Check 21 legislation, according to Obermeyer.

"We have known about and used Meta Software solutions for many years," he says. "Its solution is a simulation software package that allows us to size the various components of our process so we can produce the most efficient operation possible," Obermeyer continues. "The check processing industry is about to go under a dynamic period of history brought about by Check 21. Banks will be able to dramatically alter their processing streams like we have never been able to before."

The bank was confident in Meta Software's solution from the beginning because the model fit its requirements. "They accurately represent our environment, capture real-time data and allow us to use that data in a manner in which we can optimize our operating environment so that we can differentiate our ability to process checks more efficiently and effectively than our competition," says Obermeyer.

Comerica has already realized financial benefits from the new integrated suite, with the help of Meta Software's model, Obermeyer says. Since the start of the simulation modeling, the bank has reduced the amount of staff in its check services department by 40 people, cutting costs for the bank.

Snapshot

Institution: Comerica Bank (Detroit)

Assets: $53 Billion

Business Challenge: Upgrade integrated Enterprise Labor Optimization suite to improve check processing efficiency and compete with larger banks.

Solution: Meta Software's (Cambridge, Mass.) Payment Enterprise Model (E-Model) software.

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