Houston CU Can Document How Eliminating Documents Saves Time, Money

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You won't catch Houston Postal CU employees shuffling paper.

In October, the $128-million CU started working-in real time-with electronic images of all but about 5% of its documents, according to Vladimir Stark, CEO at Houston Postal CU.

"Electronic images of our documents are scanned by the teller during each transaction, not later in the back office," Stark explained. "And loan officers scan documents and capture information on the spot as they speak with the member. We even scan letters I receive to the executive office."

HPCU is operating in a paperless environment that makes electronic documents available "immediately and permanently," according to Hal Tilbury, CEO at document management provider Bluepoint Solutions of Vista, Calif.

In contrast, many credit unions' imaging systems rely on batch scanning, in which documents are shipped to a separate scanning department. After employees scan and index the documents, images are available-usually about 72 hours later, Tilbury said.

That's not fast enough: The usefulness of an image usually dissipates after about 48 hours, he stated. Houston Postal's implementation of Bluepoint's FASTdocs includes 39 scanners stationed at teller lines and across all the departments.

"Tellers scan checks immediately while the member conducts business," said Stark. "That way, other managers can view the check in the event that additional approval authority is needed. Tellers no longer find the need to work longer hours to scan their checks. Scanning in real-time has greatly improved our efficiency and reduced overtime pay by 5%."

Recognition technology has delivered superior results, according to Pat Collins, HPCU's senior VP-strategic services. Thus far, the scanners are able to read handwriting on checks with 100% accuracy, she said.

Electronic signature pads installed at each teller line enable the 21,000-member CU to store member signatures along with each electronic teller transaction. FASTdocs then automatically files each transaction in a directory.

Tellers at drive-up lanes are also scanning in real-time-but they can't capture signatures. "If the teller does not feel comfortable with the transaction, we do ask that the drive-up member go to the lobby," Collins added. "This way we do capture the signature."

Bluepoint's Receipt Manager captures teller transactions, displaying the number of bills in each denomination and the exact amount of any discrepancies. "When tellers are balancing at the end of the day, they can retrieve the check they need to balance and view the front and back of each check," Stark said.

Asked if HPCU's imaging technology will pave the road for sending and accepting check images in compliance with Check 21, Stark responded: "That's where we're heading."

And when loan officers need higher authority to approve loans, the system notifies a manager. "Vice presidents can take a look at the loan online, make a decision, and reply," said Stark.

Even HPCU's telecommuters can access the image index, in which each member or employee and her or his corresponding documents are listed, Stark said.

"We have 10 employees accessing documents remotely," he said. "Our loan underwriter operates from home to approve and underwrite loans. Collectors are able to pull loan documents remotely."

HPCU uses a Network-Attached Storage device to keep up with the nearly 2 million accumulated images, which are also backed-up daily on a tape drive, Collins said. FASTdocs stores any Windows-supported file type.

"The NAS device allows greater flexibility in storage management and offloads the images to a remote dedicated server," she explained. "The NAS device has much better read-write performance than devices such as optical archive systems. Using a NAS solution allows greater flexibility in storage expansion by allowing near unlimited storage capacity through stacking of multiple NAS servers."

Stark said that three-branch CU's accounts payable department still archives some paper documents.

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For more info on this story:

* Houston Postal CU at www.houstonpostalcu.org

* BluePoint at www.bluepointsolutions.com

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