Eliminate Paper – The Real Benefit of an ECM Strategy

A good ECM deployment can produce so many add-on benefits that sometimes they overshadow the main reward:  getting rid of the paper.  The paper is the problem.  Eliminating the paper solves most of the problem. 

I got thinking about this when a client volunteered the other day to be a reference for Imagine Solutions.

He couldn’t be happier with how we image workflowed his entire loan operations.  His cost savings are about 30% now and he says they are on track to reach 40%.  His quality is up 25-30% and his exceptions are way down.  (Last year they had to close down loan operations for 60 days just to get the exceptions processed in time for their audit.  This year, there was not one day down, with loan volume fully 95% of last year’s.)

But, he told us, “I just need to warn you guys, I’m going to tell all your prospects they need to walk before they run.  We got 70-80% of our savings just by turning all those paper files into virtual files.”

No problem!

Fact: Filing costs an average of $20 per document.  Look, we’re as ready as any other ECM strategists to rave about all the ways ECM makes life better – customer service, compliance, security, audit readiness, workload management, third party integration, and greenness.  It is a long list, those are real rewards, and you can’t get them in a paper environment.

But nothing happens until a paper gets scanned.  Nobody has to copy that piece of paper, file it, ship it, store it, lose it, find it, or fax it.  Nobody ever has to touch it again!  Five people can work it at the same time.  It can be everywhere it needs to be without costing anybody anything except a strenuous click of a mouse. 

We would add just one thing to our client’s welcome warning.  Not only do you get 70-80% of the savings just be eliminating the paper, but that’s the easy part of the change from paper to an ECM-enabled operation.  Your people still do pretty much the same work they did before.  Underwriters still underwrite.  Processors still check the virtual file for completeness just as they did with the physical file.  If something’s missing, they still make note of it and send the right notifications.  They just do it online instead of on paper.  They don’t have to get up and go find the file, or ship it around the organization, hoping all the pieces end up in the right place.  Productivity increases.

Later on, about the time you are ready to make workflow improvements in your operation, guess who turns out to be your best source of ideas?  Your people.  The people who had time to get used to the new image environment and learn how to do without paper.  In our experience, they become the champions of change, which makes your job a lot easier.  They’re ready to run with the workflow changes.

Like the old preacher who came back to his church a year later and saw that the piano had been moved to the other side of the altar.  “How,” he asked the new preacher, “did you get the congregation to agree to move that piano?  I tried for twenty years!”  “Easy,” the new preacher answered. “Every day I moved it one inch.”


About the author

Rick Smith, President and CEO, President and CEO

Rick Smith is President and CEO at Imagine Solutions, enterprise content management (ECM) specialists and provider of Encapture, a premier enterprise capture platform. Rick founded Imagine Solutions in 1998 to bring companies an innovative, cost-effective way to take advantage of advances in digital imaging and content management. With his leadership, Imagine has built a solid reputation for rapidly delivering enormous cost savings and significant improvements in business processes and workflow.


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