What they didn't foresee was that the new client-server approach would have the added benefit of boosting employee morale, which carries over to customer services and satisfaction.
"Actually, that was a pleasant surprise," said Jerome Simon, executive vice president of the $217 million-asset bank.
"We really didn't anticipate the way it revolutionized our business. We had hoped for an increase in productivity, but it has far exceeded our expectations."
The client-server system, named OnCall, is supplied by Electronic Data Systems of llano, Tex. It was installed in July 1992, and a document image processing system was added last year.
OnCall is a data repository operating in a Windows environment. EDS spokeswoman Carol Winters said OnCall includes the clientserver platform, document imaging, output management, branch automation, cash management, a customized reporting system, and an executive information system.
The server is at the bank and is online to employees' personal computers in the bank's two branches. The server is also on-line with the EDS host in Dallas.
"It integrates all products and services so they have access to the same information," Ms. Winters said.
Tanglewood Bank immediately benefited when the document imaging system was added. Since opening the second branch, the bank had already scanned in customers' signature cards. The imaging system saved countless hours of photocopying. At the time, Mr. Simon remembered saying, "Yes, this is going to work."
The imaging system for OnCall came in part as a result of the growing interest in document imaging among EDS customers, who were increasingly asking the technology company how it could be used. Steve Bohn, an EDS product manager, said studies done on bank management found that duplication of corporate folders, credit reports, and other documents occurred as often as 'Four or five times?'
"Now," said Mr. Bohn, "it is only required once. The bank does not have to worry about having the most current copy. The information could be accessed anywhere."
Tanglewood is just one of a growing number of banks to actively pursue new software technologies.
But perhaps more than any other industry, banks have been cautious about investing in the latest technologies, particularly those with high initial costs and lengthy implementation processes.
But that hasn't checked bankers' enthusiasm for imaging, since they can see its obvious benefits. Furthermore, these systems have lately become more affordable.
"The technology has not been embraced as much by the banking industry as it has by others, such as insurance or health care," Ms. Winters said. "Banks have been slow to use it, even though the technology is proven."
Mr. Bohn said that although the banking industry has been relatively slow to come around, interest is on the rise and costs will continue to come down because of competition.
"Lots of community banks are more involved," Mr. Bohn said. "Banks are becoming more [interested in] it as they get bogged down in the paper process."
Mr. Simon said that so far Tanglewood is pleased with the imaging system's performance in helping the bank meet its goal of providing "personalized customer service."
Because it is located in a relatively affluent community, Tanglewood focuses on serving the needs of professionals and small and medium-size businesses.
One of the system's great benefits is that it allows the bank's 68 employees to quickly obtain and analyze all relevant customer informarion from their PCs. It also lets employees open multiple files on their screens. These popular features have eliminated much of the formerly tedious processing. Despite the presence of many PCs before the installation of OnCall, employees found themselves constantly losing time by logging on and off the various functions as customers walked in or called during office hours.
"Now they get more out of the tools at their desks," Mr. Simon said. "Before, we used the cryptic codes that were intimidating, the kind that make a person feel stupid. This allows us to immediately be responsive."
A self-styled progressive bank, Tanglewood was chartered in 1983 and has been an EDS customer since 1987. Its willingness to test the imaging waters led to its becoming a showcase for EDS technology, particularly among community banks.
The bank helped EDS develop OnCall. In 1991, Mr. Simon chaired EDS's Product Advisory Council, a panel that includes EDS officials and clients. The group would meet periodically to discuss ideas for new products.
At the council, Mr. Simon was shown a prototype of the clientserver software. EDS then asked him for feedback.
Mr. Simon was impressed with the technology' s potential. He said,"if you develop it, we will help you.
"We decided to go with them," Mr. Simon said. "We have a good history with EDS."
To help in the development, EDS program designers and Tanglewood employees met often to discuss ways to improve the system. Then, during the initial phase-in of the system, all bank employees were put through two four-hour training sessions "to get them used to the mouse," Mr. Simon explained.
"Over a weekend," he continued, "they [EDS] upgraded the employees' systems and on the following Monday they were immediately in Windows. They left the old DOS operating system in place, just in case they wanted to go back." Not every aspect of the new system was uniformly accepted. But because the new software was so user-friendly, Mr. Simon said, "Not one employee went back."