Don’t let your documents hurt you!
Technical background - MS Word processing with Interactive input, PDF processing, Rule based document checking, Multi-channel (Print & Mail or E-delivery), Hybrid Mail, Print governance and right-sizing of MFD printer fleet
Recently when visiting a large Financial Enterprise a common theme struck me. Just like a similar organization I saw a week earlier, there were still a lot of MFD (Multi-Function Device) printers and staff producing individual letters. I asked several questions and the answer came back that a significant amount of correspondence is still produced at a department level. Now these organizations use composition tools and outsource services for bulk production, but still use MS Word and PDF tools and MFD printers for producing documents at the department level. On further questioning, one had 20% of their mail budget spent on these items of unstructured mail, which was a significant sum!
Why? Well, there is a need for skilled staff to put together individual letters and respond to customers that have specific questions. Some were complaints, some were HR related and some were issues where a custom reply was needed by skilled staff. The volumes added up across the departments. Composition tools for multiple departmental use were deemed expensive and too restrictive. There was also a legacy of documents and templates built over years. However, skilled staff were not only creating the documents but also producing them too, which is a waste of their core role and time. Some letters could only be “physical” print and mail letters for legality reasons but some could also be emailed.
This type of correspondence is open to significant risk, as well. What really happens to the myriad of unstructured documents created in your front office and back office applications - can they come back to hurt you and haunt your company with compliance issues, unexpected costs, litigation, and embarrassment?
There can be management, operational, and IT perspectives on the costs and risks associated with unstructured documents, such as:
- Content management and regulatory compliance
- Key role productivity, customer satisfaction, risk reduction, and customer centricity
- Managing documents with increasingly stringent SLAs
- Ensuring job and document integrity, while managing unstructured documents
Who cares about getting hurt?
- Marketing – customer satisfaction, right messaging, brand
- Operations –errors, accountability, disruption, time
- IT – In-house versus outsource, Desktop environment, Right size printer fleets, networking
- Legal and compliance – fines, security breaches, uncontrolled content, lost records , poor integrity, violations of in-department printing or seeing sensitive documents
- Finance – cost of operation, cost of fines, how to save
- Management – right staff usage and all of the above
One of the world's largest insurance companies had a problem as described above. They needed to take control of their unstructured documents as they were costing a lot to produce. There was also a desire to use overseas facilities to carry out some of the processing. There were worries about integrity and security and how to deliver and distribute the documents.
Working in partnership with the company the detailed requirements were identified and the final solution involved the following:
- Non-disruptive technology – using their existing document creation solutions and document legacy e.g. MS Word, Templates
- Allowing key workers to simply press a button to send documents and letting the solution do the rest
- If the documents needed content input, allow this to be structured and added easily added
- Quality and rules checking at the desktop the brand and corporate identity, the address structure and the physical attributes such as clear zones for production, right fonts, right templates etc.
- Supervisor/management approval – for new employees, difficult cases etc.
The outcomes and results:
- Enablement of over 400 initial users and expanding, due to the success, now to over 1500 in multiple countries and for different lines of business
- Use of existing applications that the users were familiar with (no need for new software acquisition and training)
- Customer number and template usage link (right document to right recipient)
- Document correct for production when leaving the desktop (less errors)
- If an email address is present then certain documents could be e-delivered (electronic substitution of some of the post)
- Approval processes (Further checking, right first time and training benefits)
- Centralized production to leverage higher quality output, postal discounts and co-mingling work into production, thus making this more efficient
- Automated archive for compliance and customer services
- Significant risk reduction
- Costs are cut – key staffs are concentrating on core roles, mailing costs are reduced significantly
In this case, the Insurance company had their own central production facilities. However, this type of solution can be applied to both in-house production or to outsourced services. It can also be applied to small departments as well as a large enterprise. Often, we find when small departments benefit and they tell their neighbours.