Going Green

Moving Mountains to Save Trees

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In a time when most banks were scurrying to find ways to shave costs, Alabama's Superior Bank found a way to slice a quarter of a million dollars by overhauling its document workflow and reducing the paper used in documentation.

The $3.2 billion asset-bank licenses FormSpeed, a Web-based workflow productivity tool from Integrated Media Management (IMM) that collects information and routes forms within the bank. Superior Bank uses FormSpeed to create electronic forms that pre-fill certain types of information, and has eliminated the need for the back office to re-key information already entered by the document originator.

The product also allows users to design their own electronic forms, with data collection and time-based or approval-based routing elements, such as notifying a manager if a certain period of time has passed without action, or sending the document to multiple approval sources at the same time.

David Hiden, the bank's chief information officer, says the bank saves close to $100,000 per year using FormSpeed, including printing and handling costs avoided, and has eliminated one full-time position. The green benefit includes 13,000 pages of paper saved per month on its most commonly used form-the change of address and customer signature form.

The bank's efforts to turn a mountain of paper into a smaller hill date to 2008, when it was looking for a way to reduce the institution's fax volume of 6,000 to 8,000 faxes per month-paper trails to the bank's back office for everything from customer signature changes to acquisition requests from employees. At the time, the bank had more than doubled its assets in three years, to $3.2 billion in 2008 from $1.4 billion in 2005, and its organization had nearly doubled in 18 months, to 800 employees and 100 locations across two states.

One issue was the inefficiency of the fax system, Hiden says. If a form was filled out incorrectly, or incompletely, Hiden's back office staff would have to fax it back to the branch to be corrected and re-faxed, and the change could add another day to the process-the automated workflow engine removes paper by automating that process and making it more efficient by eliminating redundancies and errors.

"[Under the old system] one fax could turn into three, relatively easily," says Hiden, who oversees 50 to 55 employees in technology and operations for the bank, including IT, electronic banking and deposit operations. Of the initial faxes sent to Hiden's staff, 8 percent to 10 percent were returned because they had incomplete or inaccurate information.

The new system has reduced paper and expense, key benefits for a budget-conscious time.

"In this market, people are a little more frugal," says John Levy, an evp at IMM. "They're more focused on what you can do in terms of return on investment."

IMM is competing in a crowded workflow management field, with firms such as Pegasystems, IBM, EMC, Appian, Singularity and Global 360 all vying for share.

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