Where CUs Should Concentrate Technology Budget Right Now

With the future of the economy uncertain and budgetary resources scarce, convincing a CU that now is the time to invest in technology doesn't always receive the most positive of responses.

The truth, however, is that ignoring new technological tools only limits the opportunities to operate with maximum efficiency, and therefore increases the likelihood that if a CU weathers the current financial storm, it will by no means be a viable competitor when the market stabilizes.

But where should CUs concentrate this spending? They all have at least a single host processor that is the focal point of their data collection with multiple third-party products to manage other functions. Today, for the most part, they all have an imaging platform on the back-end to provide for more efficient scanning and storage of documents. But what about that mysterious space in between? From the core processor to the imaging system, there are opportunities for efficiency left unexplored more often than not. These opportunities generally get lost-sucked in this mysterious black hole-only to be forgotten or taken for granted.

Even with a great imaging system, credit unions still must manually scan and index paper documents to get them into the platform. Besides being laborious and time intensive, manual entry produces errors, leading to unwanted costs in more ways than one.

To escape this black hole and capitalize on the available automation, credit unions can find a solution in output management and electronic signature capture. The result: significantly improved efficiencies through increased productivity and reduced operating costs. Although credit unions may have existing document preparation engines, signature capture functionality is key to gaining these efficiencies and cost reductions.

Another necessary component to achieve true automation is the ability to merge data with all document types. Why circulate paper between branches, store it in files requiring manual retrieval and have to scan and index to convert paper into an electronic record?

Important, too, is having workflow that provides for the ability to accept signatures by co-signers at different times and/or locations. A document that requires two signers is not electronic if one individual is able to sign electronically, yet the co-signer must sign on paper. Keeping documents electronic all the way to accommodate members signing at different times and/or branches is critical to handing an electronic record off directly to imaging. A partial electronic process is 100% paper if it requires paper at any point in the process.

Most credit unions are satisfied with just having an imaging system on the back-end, knowing that eventually the platform will produce an electronic image. However, an imaging platform can be better justified when the files are imported, rather than being manually scanned or indexed because the ROI is much quicker and the savings much greater.

The concept behind automation is to be able to take the same amount of people-or less-and be able to do more, thus increasing productivity while reducing operating costs. Automation between the core and imaging system enables credit unions to be more efficient and therefore more competitive in their marketplace. Every time a credit union can increase the number of documents produced or the percentage of paper eliminated, the greater the efficiencies they will realize.

John Levy is executive vice president of Integrated Media Management. He can be reached at john@immonline.com or 800.836.4750.