Commerce Bancorp is installing a document-imaging and data-archival system designed to help the company handle its growth.

The $2.3 billion-asset bank holding company, based in Cherry Hill, N.J., has been aggressively acquiring offices for several years. It has added 13 branches in the last 18 months, bringing its total to 45. Assets have grown 42% over the same period.

With this expansion, the bank's back-office operations and customer-service functions have grown more complicated. As part of the solution to this problem, Commerce has moved to replace its current microfiche-based filing system with image technology. Image technology, in which paper documents are turned into digitized files that can be stored on optical disks and routed on computer networks, is expected to allow the bank to access information more quickly while reducing information storage and retrieval expenses, bank officials said.

By storing reports on the imaging system and eliminating microfiche, the bank anticipates saving more than $325,000 over a five-year period, said John Dabek, vice president of operations at Commerce, which operates in western New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

The technology will also "help us maintain our current staff as the bank grows," Mr. Dabek said. "Since [the] systems are truly turnkey solutions, we don't need to add a staff of technicians to program interfaces between our current software and them."

After examining imaging and archival technology from several vendors, the bank chose the PCI/File Folder and PCI/Reports Archival systems from Protocorp International, Monroe, N.C..

The PC-based systems, which run in DOS or Windows environments, are scheduled to go on-line in December.

PCI/File Folder will be used to store and retrieve loan documents and applications in the bank's loan department.

The system employs a mixture of high-volume magnetic disk storage and optical storage for archival of information.

Since the images will be available on-line, they are expected to be a vast improvement over the microfiche system which requires manual retrieval of stored records.

According to Mr. Dabek, information stored on microfiche takes from three to five minutes to locate, depending on the age of the item. By contrast, accessing image-based data will take seconds.

The speed with which employees can get to images is expected to significantly improve response to customer inquiries.

In addition, employees will be able to fax information to customers directly from PCs, he said.

The systems will be installed on the bank's wide-area network, which links its back office locations. Later, the network will be expanded to allow access to branch personnel.

Mr. Dabek said PCI's technology is powerful enough to handle the bank's large volume of data.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.