How to Turn a Bad Dream Good: Department of VA Loses a Half-Million Loan Files

Talk about a nightmare. Almost half a million electronic home loan files were accidentally deleted by the Department of Veterans Affairs last month – including active loan files, appraisals and grant documents.

And I thought I tossed and turned last night.

Most people will ask “How could this happen?” I know I did – and I don’t know the answer other than obvious: Accidents happen.

But maybe the more important question is “How could the Department of Veterans Affairs have prevented this from happening?” That I have an answer for. And it’s simple. A document management system would have prevented this nightmare.

Securely store electronic data
Document management systems, also known as enterprise content management (ECM), convert paper and files into electronic images stored in an easily searchable and indexed depository. This prevents the misplacement of documents and allows your employees to easily access and share them within a financial organization.

More than just imaging, ECM’s records management component securely controls the retention of all associated business records within a document management system. For example, lenders can use records management to effectively manage all documents associated to a loan. Since you can close loans prior to the end of term, they require event-based retention. Once the loan is closed, the event will be posted to the managed folder and the retention period will commence.

ECM also automatically backs up files located within the database using disc groups, updating multiple servers in real-time. Financial institutions also have the ability to migrate their databases and files to multiple storage devices.

Protect data from accidents
Password protection and file access controls allow financial institutions to maintain a high level of security. Administrators can restrict file access based on an employee’s job function so employees only have access to documents and files necessary to complete their tasks. The system tracks all employee activity within the database – which files were accessed, who accessed the files, when they accessed them, what actions were taken with the files, etc. – providing a level of file and employee accountability. It also safeguards against an employee accidentally hitting “delete” and erasing a database.

In addition to providing greater document security, ECM also creates an audit trail that can be useful for regulatory compliance purposes. Knowing where documents that prove compliance are and being able to access them quickly is critical to managing compliance with less staff. By storing documents digitally, they are never lost – they are secure and you can find what you need in seconds.

By using an ECM solution to manage your documents and data, you sidestep bad publicity, avoid compliance blunders and protect your internal processes. That’s something that should help you sleep better.

Michelle Harbinak Shapiro

Michelle Harbinak Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro brings more than 15 years of experience in the banking industry to her role as Financial Services marketing portfolio manager at Hyland. Her mission is to share best practices and evangelize the power of ECM as a tool for banks, credit unions and lenders to help automate paper-based processes and proactively manage regulations.

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