World Paper Free Day: Pulling the plug on paper

Financial services meeting

For many, in the late 20th Century, visions of a paperless credit union were intriguing, fanciful, but ultimately fantasy for the foreseeable future. Paper continued to persist because it was a preferred format, and because it was the form of last resort for records management.

Today, credit unions must go paperless by embracing technology such as enterprise content management (ECM) to attract and keep the next generation of members who expect digital options. Going paperless is necessary in order to stay competitive and even relevant.

In celebration of this past AIIM World Paper Free Day, it is only appropriate that I outline the three most common places I encounter paper clogging credit unions today – even the most tech-savvy ones.

1. Consumer lending: Printing loan documents

Many consumer lending departments are utilizing multiple methods for capturing and storing documentation. They print and store loan-related documents from members and credit union-generated information in paper folders. Not having a central, standardized repository for loan-related documents results in numerous problems, including unnecessary hard costs resulting from branch requests for copies of paper files stored elsewhere and labor costs related to retrieving, photocopying, and re-filing paper documents.

Oftentimes, missing documents are not identified until well into the loan process. This opens the door for other lenders to win the business.

By digitizing documents, and ultimately the processes those documents are tied to, you capture information, make it instantly available and standardize your processes. In fact, you can take almost any process, including consumer loan applications, and create an automated workflow. Not only will that workflow make sure documents such as loan applications are complete and accurate, it will automatically route them to the appropriate personnel, alerting stakeholders along the way.

2. Retail banking: Retrieving information

Retail banking operations are also using multiple methods and tools for capturing, storing, and retrieving information. Similar to loan operations, disparate information management practices result in unnecessary costs for credit unions.

Providing fast, accurate answers as soon as a member needs help is vital. This is not only a great time to make a lasting impact on your consumers, but also capture sales information, generate leads, make tailored offers, or create new sales. ECM centralizes your information and connects your credit union so service representatives have but one place to look for the answers they need.

Because ECM seamlessly integrates with existing core line-of-business applications, representatives never have to leave their familiar environment to get what they need. So, on top of winning favor with members because you’ve answered their questions quickly and completely, you save money and resources on training costs as well.

Enterprise content management solutions also provide the ability to track every interaction with members. Representatives can instantly see all documents associated with a member to answer their questions faster. Meanwhile, managers can instantly see real-time process statistics and bottlenecks to proactively prevent problems.

3. Human resources: Tracking

Too frequently, I hear how human resource (HR) departments send changes to internal policies via email, making it difficult to track employee acknowledgement. Then, HR publishes approved policy changes to an internal drive without any tracking of if, or when, affected employees have read them.

When credit unions store HR policies and procedures on paper, ensuring employees review and acknowledge these documents is time-consuming and prone to error. With the right ECM solution, HR departments efficiently create, distribute, and track employee acknowledgement of policies and procedures while reducing associated administrative tasks such as filing, copying, and mailing documents. With this documented proof of both policy distribution and employee sign-off, organizations strengthen compliance and minimize liability while holding all employees accountable.

Even though World Paper Free Day is disappearing into the distance, if your credit union hasn’t gone paperless yet, now is the time. The technology is there. More importantly, so is the ROI.

Maybe your credit union has already pulled the plug on paper or is struggling with a specific area. If so, tell us about it!

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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