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Getting a Handle on Documents By @Dana_Gardner | @BigDataExpo #BigData

How Malaysia’s Bank Simpanan Nasional implemented a sweeping enterprise content management system

The next BriefingsDirect big data and information governance innovation case study highlights how the National Savings Bank in Malaysia has implemented a sweeping enterprise content management system (ECMS) project.

Learn how this large community bank has slashed paper use, increased productivity, rationalized storage and documents, and cut security risks, while adhering to compliance requirements.

To walk us through the bank’s journey to better information management is Alain Boey, Senior Vice President in the Transformation Management Department at the National Savings Bank in Malaysia. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: What were the major drivers that led you to seek a comprehensive approach to enterprise content management?

Boey: We were trying to standardize a lot of our processes in the bank and, as you know, in the bank itself we used a lot of paper. There are a lot of documents flying around and documents have to be couriered from one place over to our headquarters (HQ) for processing. We have 14 states all across Malaysia, and all these documents have to be couriered on a daily basis over to our HQ in Kuala Lumpur.

Boey

We were trying to see how we can shorten that process itself, so that we can at least be able to give an answer to our customers in the shortest time possible. By putting in an ECMS, we were able to standardize a lot of the processes that involved paper. Then, documents were able to be retrieved easily regardless of where the person is. In terms of processing times, we were able to shorten the processing time from four days to less than a day.

The documents are now scanned and then uploaded to the server, which is easily accessed  by anybody around Malaysia. The whole objective of going in to the ECMS was to improve the entire customer experience, and also to put in best practices involving processes as well as systems. Ultimately, what we want to achieve is to see how we can serve our customer better.

Gardner: Tell us a little bit about your bank. It’s a quite a distributed organization and there are a lot of moving parts to it. I can understand why it would be a challenge to centralize all of your information.

Promote and mobilize savings

Boey: Bank Simpanan Nasional is owned by the Ministry of Finance. We were incorporated in 1974. So we're 40 years old as of December last year. Our objective is to promote and mobilize savings for the entire Malaysia.

We're specially set up by the Ministry of Finance to provide savings and banking opportunities to all Malaysians. Because we're a national bank, we have branches all across Malaysia. We have 402 branches, and these are serviced by our 6,800 employees.

We also have what we call agent banking. We have 5,200 agents who are able to operate on behalf of the bank. BSN, as what we are normally known in Malaysia, has 982 automatic teller machines (ATMs) and 338 cash deposit machines (CDMs) and this is to serve more than 9.5 million customers. In short, we're a diverse bank. We're the only bank that you can find in the remotest parts of Malaysia.

That's why before ECMS came in, it was very challenging. Documents had to be couriered or had to carried from one place to our central office. Because of that, a simple loan application, for instance, could take up to four to five days before it can reach the central office. That created a lot of challenges in trying to satisfy our customers, especially those applying for loans. They want to know the status of their loan application as soon as possible.

Number two, we also had issues in regard to the management of the documents. Documents had to be stored, and there were issues in relation to the access of physical documents themselves. As we all know, real estate prices have gone up, so storing all these physical documents doesn’t make sense for the bank.

We wanted to put in place a system whereby we're able to track the entire lifecycle of the document.

We wanted to see how we could also find a way to remove as many of these physical documents as possible, and also to make the retrieval of the documents easy. We're also trying to put in controls over access of the documents. Physical paper files can be lost while in transit, or can even be lost because they get misplaced, or a file is missing.

We wanted to put in place a system whereby we're able to track the entire lifecycle of the document. The moment the document is scanned, we're able to see the status of the document itself, as well the status of the application and then the entire lifecycle management of the document. That’s pretty much what we wanted to achieve from this whole exercise.

Gardner: Not only do you get a centralized view and more information about each document much quicker, but you also create a much better security and audit trail, and therefore compliance benefits?

Boey: Definitely. Now, we have a better audit trail of document movement. We have better control in terms of the versioning, like who puts in what. We're also able to rollout a consistent taxonomy for all documents. Whatever documents go into ECMS have to follow a certain methodology in taxonomy inference of the naming. So anybody in Malaysia, when they want to access a file, they're able to identify the file by just looking at the name of the file.

Of course, because everything is in soft copy, we have a back-up in terms of the disaster recovery (DR) as well. So, there's no issue, if a document goes missing, in how we access it and how we look for important documents. So, now that we have a proper DR, we're able to retrieve the documents, even if the physical copy is missing.

Primary technologies

Gardner: Alain, tell us how you went about this. What were the primary technologies, processes, and skills that were required to make this happen?

Boey: The journey itself took us about two years. We explored many vendors in the market to look at which available technologies were able to satisfy our requirements. There were a lot of vendors providing document management systems, but we wanted an enterprise-level system so that we're able to use the same system across the entire organization.

We went through a series of vendors and then eventually we decided to go with HP’s Autonomy and also the HP TRIM Records Management System. Of course, there were many solutions that we looked at. It was an open tender, and the evaluation team comprised a combination of business users as well as technical users. Based on the result of this, the evaluators were comfortable with this solution and the technology that was being provided by HP.

Then, during implementation itself, we were able to have better hands-on experience on the HP TRIM software as well as on Autonomy. We found that the software was very flexible. We were able to build workflows together, and they were also able to put in a lot of controls and a lot of parameterized input. That makes usage, as well as maintenance, easy.

Maintenance becomes easier because we don't need to have somebody physically managing the entire lifecycle of the document.

Gardner: When you go to a digital and managed system like this, you also get benefits for archive and back-up and perhaps even reduction in overall storage infrastructure costs. Is there anything about the storage and back-up and archive benefits that also came to play?

Boey: Definitely. Because we're a bank, all the documents that we have have to be backed up. Previously, every document had to be duplicated, so we had two files of it. That made retrieval and storage challenges as well.

Once a soft copy is in, you're able to make multiple copies if you want to, but because we have a DR in place, we're able to replicate the files to our DR. In terms of archival, it's easier because we can follow our standard archiving policy. When it comes to the end of the lifecycle of the document itself, there are proper procedures to manage the expiry of the documents as well as the disposal of the hard copy.

Now that they have the managed soft copy, we're able to track the entire movement, and when it comes to the expiry itself, notifications will remind the users that this document is due for disposal at whatever period of time. The users can then prepare the necessary procedures in regard to disposal of the documents.

Maintenance becomes easier because we don't need to have someone physically managing the entire lifecycle of the document. We're leaving it to the system to tell us when what action should be taken for a typical document.

Gardner: Let’s look at some of the results, some of the paybacks that you've achieved as a result of your project. First, I suppose, customer satisfaction is always important. What have you heard from the users, the customers, in terms of how they view this as an improvement? And are there other metrics of success?

User surveys

Boey: We have conducted some surveys with the users in regard to the experience of using the system. Initially, when the system was first rolled out, there were some challenges in the users' options because those were basically changing the way they were used to doing things. Because documents now are all committed electronically, that means physical processes that will have to be eliminated.

There were some challenges from the users in regard to so-called job security, because things were now being replaced by the system itself. We were able to retrain some of these users to other functions. For example, when a document comes in, once the document is scanned it goes into the system, and we need someone to physically eyeball the information.

Previously, someone was preparing the documents for couriering. Now, their new role is basically to eyeball some of this information, to check the consistency, as well as the completeness and the accuracy of the information.

With all of this, we're able to shorten the turnaround time for the loan application and the turnaround time for the commission payment.

Because of this, we're able to see happier customers and users because they are able to see the benefits from using the system.

Sales agents are basically paid by commission. So the faster the loan is approved, for example, the faster they will get the commission. Now, with the system in place, we're able to see shorter turnaround time in terms of the processing. Because of this, the customers are able to get an answer from the bank in the shortest time possible. The customer will then be able to decide if they want to take out the loan with the bank.

With all of this, we're able to shorten the turnaround time for the loan application and the turnaround time for the commission payment, as well as the turnaround time for the feedback to the customers.

Overall, in the three surveys that they have conducted by the bank, the results have been positive. We've seen a higher usage of the system since it has been implemented.

On the customer side, based on the feedback that we have received as well as the surveys that have been done, the customers are happier because they're able to get the answers from the bank sooner.

Previously, we had a lot of drop in customers because the time it took to revert back to them was longer. Now, if an application comes in, it’s submitted on one day, and the customer is able to get a reply in less than 24 hours. So this has increased customers' satisfaction.

Gardner: What about the future? What comes next? Does this capability that you've put in place open up the possibility for other improvements in your infrastructure and documented information management, perhaps some sort of analysis capability or search in other higher order functions around business intelligence?

Robust system

Boey: In doing the implementation, the HP team helped us build some of these applications and helped us put in the applications for some of the departments. Moving forward, we're rolling out to all the other departments in the bank, all of the back offices, and these are going to done by our own team. So it shows the robustness of the system that the team is able to pick up the knowledge of the system and then to roll it out.

Now, with all of this information that we have, we're also looking at the analytics surrounding the data, the data that we have received. We're looking to see how we can further improve the customers' experience based on the information that we have in the system.

We're trying to shorten the entire processing time as much as possible, now that we have better management and information on the processing time.

We're also trying to see, based on the information that we have, whether we're able to better understand our users' behavior. Sometimes, our sales agents are quite smart in playing along with their sales target, like what it’s going to be for this month or is this going to be for next month. So we are trying to get a better understanding of our user’s behavior through the information in BSN itself.

We're also trying to see, based on the information that we have, whether we're able to understand our user’s behavior better.

And also similarly for the customers, based on the analytics surrounding the customers and the information in the system, we are also exploring better products and services to best satisfy our customers’ expectations.

Gardner: If you have an opportunity to instruct someone who is starting out on a similar project, what lessons have you learned? What advice might you offer to those who are beginning a comprehensive ECMS project?

Boey: Look at the bigger picture. There are a lot of document management systems, but if you're looking for an ECMS, you need to identify your objectives. If your objective is just to scan a document, then probably an ECMS will not work.

But if your objective is to look at improving the return on investment (ROI), improving the entire costumer experience, putting in better control on the document lifecycle -- then an ECMS would work for you.

Also, explore what's available in the market in terms of the solution and get to know the vendors, the solution providers, well so that you have a better understanding of the technology, and you have a better knowledge of the roadmap of the technology. Then, you're able to plan your future, your three-year plans or your five-year business plans based on the roadmap of the solution.

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More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

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