In a softening economy, consumers look to save money wherever possible. Reducing monthly bank fees is a good start, which tends to bring new business to the nation's non-profit credit unions. In addition to offering accounts free of service charges, credit unions generally offer lower interest rates on credit cards and home and auto loans. Wescom Credit Union in Pasadena, Calif. has benefited from this new consumerism, experiencing steady growth in membership in recent years. With more than 175,000 members and more than $1.8 billion in assets, Wescom's increasing account base also translates into much higher levels of account document management. To better handle the paperwork associated with each account, Wescom recently replaced its original document capture system with a Kofax solution that includes VirtualReScan (VRS) and Ascent Capture technology. VRS provides Wescom a significant improvement in data recognition which enabled the company to increase its scanning capabilities from 20,000 images to 115,000 images per month, without increasing staff.
Implementing an imaging system has allowed Wescom to reduce costs and improve member services. Credit union staff can now more quickly access customer account information and immediately retrieve customer documents via their PCs. They no longer have to make requests for documents and await their arrival, enhancing customer service levels by enabling staff to address member requests more rapidly.
When Wescom implemented its first document capture system in 1998, the company required custom programming to accommodate each document type, such as accounts payable invoices, certificates, consumer loan notes, credit documents, human resources information, IRA documents, loan applications, membership documents, tax forms, trust documents and customer ATM, credit card and debit card transaction reports.
"The system could only process about 20,000 to 25,000 images per month and operated with a seven percent error rate," said Gail Ozawa, manager of Workflow Systems. "Staff had to manually audit each document released to the system, which resulted in an exorbitant amount of extra work and a growing backlog of documents to be scanned."
As a result, Wescom changed course and upgraded to a higher-performing document capture solution which included Kofax VRS, a robust automated document image-perfecting solution. VRS enables Wescom to achieve high levels of accuracy in data captured from scanned documents by greatly reducing the need for manual corrections of ICR and OCR results. With VRS, users can load any combination of document types and sizes into the scanner and simply press the scan button. VRS will automatically straighten, crop and optimize exposure in real time.
Using Kofax VRS technology, Wescom now scans up to 115,000 images per month and has achieved a variety of cost-saving and productivity benefits. Data is captured more accurately while any indexing errors are detected and corrected sooner. VRS has enabled Wescom to significantly increase scanning volumes so that staff can not only process all current documents, but also prep and scan backfiles. This increased productivity has resulted in an 80 percent decrease in offsite storage requirements.
Wescom's document imaging system includes Kofax VRS running on two Bell & Howell 8080 scanners featuring Kofax Adrenaline scanner controllers to boost speed and overall performance. Wescom implemented Kofax VRS to deskew and enhance images. VRS also instantly checks and adjusts Wescom documents for alignment, brightness, contrast and image clarity. Any inconsistencies are immediately corrected by VRS so that only the straightest, most readable images are released into Wescom's system. VRS capabilities enable Wescom to efficiently process documents with unique specifications and characteristics. The system can effectively process non-standard 24-inch long, double-sided loan forms as well as old and sometimes deteriorating documents such as old signature cards and corporate records dating back to the 1940s and 1950s. VRS also successfully recognizes images printed on colored paper, which was sometimes difficult for the older systems to process.
Kofax Ascent Capture technology enables Wescom to convert and store paper documents in a central database, so that the credit union can manage and secure critical documents electronically and access them via a corporate network. Because the application automatically identifies forms and performs highly accurate recognition of handwriting (ICR) and machine print (OCR), Wescom can scan a variety of document types. Kofax Ascent software is paired with FileNet's Panagon Image Services, a high-volume image and object storage server solution for Web- and Windows-based applications.
According to Ozawa, Kofax software is very user friendly and Wescom's workflow staff is able to quickly learn how to set up document classes and customize indexing. Once staff members learned how to use the system, they were able to teach others within the department.
"Wescom faced many challenges with its older capture system, including low productivity and an overall lack of confidence in the system," said Greg Kaut of DPS Technologies in Pasadena, Calif., the integrator selected to develop Wescom's document capture solution. "Wescom had made a significant investment in its document imaging system, however, it required too many steps and involved custom programming when changes needed to be made. Using VRS and Ascent Capture, DPS was able to meet Wescom's objectives by reducing the number of steps involved in the process and improving data accuracy by incorporating Ascent's database validation and lookup features. The combination of VRS and Ascent Capture has enabled Wescom to effectively address its growing volumes and backlog of documents."
Credit unions are giving banks a run for their money. As consumers leave traditional banking institutions and take their business to credit unions, these non-profit financial institutions are implementing new and more effective ways to manage member services. For Wescom, document capture technology has been instrumental in the credit union's ability to continue to successfully maintain its 67-year-old tradition of offering the most competitive financial and member services.Kofax