Integrator Helps Bank Maintain Its Image(s)
Offering applications ranging from core processing software to knowledge management, Aurum Technology, Inc. cashes in on the banking market's preference for a single point of contact.
Aurum Technology, Inc. (Plano, TX) specializes in core processing software for community and mid-tier banks. While core processing software provides the functions normally associated with banks such as managing accounts and generating statements, it doesn't provide document and content management functions. Aurum used to partner with third parties, but partnering has drawbacks. According to Steve Barton, VP of business development for Aurum's MISER division (Maitland, FL), customers like to have one number to call when something goes wrong. Second, any integration can affect the performance of the core software, so offering complete hardware and software integration itself helps Aurum prevent potential conflicts. These market demands prompted Aurum to acquire DDI, an integration firm formerly owned by Barton's family.
MISER's understanding of integration of banking software was one factor in securing a solution for The Rome Savings Bank (Rome, NY), which has more than $240 million in assets. Another was the fact DDI had been providing solutions to the bank since 1974. Like many banks, Rome Savings had upgraded in preparation for Y2K in the late 1990s, but it was still maintaining paper-based reports. "This institution was really over the size that would usually be looking at this solution for the first time," admits Barton. "Normally, by the time a bank gets to $50 million, managing all that paper just becomes too much."
Generate Automated Reports From Diverse Data Sources
To address the problem, Barton recommended the Synergy 2000 Reports Module from SER Solutions (Dulles, VA). The Reports Module is designed to create a single access point for retrieving report data. It stores output data such as statements and notices from a variety of applications. The reports generated from that data can be displayed, printed, faxed, and e-mailed on demand. Concurrently, an additional 9 GB of disk space was added on an existing Unisys ClearPath enterprise server, a mainframe that houses the core processing software and speaks natively with Windows NT. In a process called heterogeneous multiprocessing, when documents such as statements are produced, a copy can be sent directly to the directory on an NT server where it is indexed.
This multiprocessing is automated so that all data is transferred nightly to the directory. The Aurum team also wrote an automatic indexing interface to communicate with the Synergy Report Module, reducing clerical labor.
Instead of printing and filing reports, report data is now archived to 650 MB CDs. The CDs are created with a basic HP Vectra PC with an attached CD writer. Creation of two CDs is automatically triggered when capacity is reached. One CD is used for accessing records, and the second is stored for disaster recovery.
Soft Returns Can Be A Hard Sell
The prior relationship combined with references for similar installations were key factors in securing the contract with Rome Savings. Barton says the initial concern came from the president. "He's always the one you have to convince in a smaller bank. He sees the price tag, but he doesn't feel the pain of having to conduct research by digging through boxes of papers."
Once the installation was complete, the second challenge was encouraging employees to use the software. "Initially, bank employees were using it only when necessary instead of finding ways to use it," comments Barton. "But they are realizing the value of being able to perform a search across the institution based on partial names, Boolean logical operators, or dollar amounts."
In addition to making retrieval easier, the bank is also pleased with the appearance of the reports generated through Synergy. For example, the system can recreate an exact copy of a customer statement without saving an actual scanned copy. "Banks are hung up on image," notes Barton. "And from a customer perspective that image is based on a once-a-month statement. It's important to banks that any documents look as professional as possible."
The installation itself took about four or five days with training at a total cost of about $32,000 plus expenses. "The cost-justification is very soft," admits Barton. "Most executives understand that the largest return will be in productivity, which is hard to measure." While Rome Savings is currently concentrating on this system as a back office solution, Barton says it could easily be upgraded with additional modules that add front office functions such as document imaging, check imaging, and signature verification. Images of pertinent documents could also be linked to the appropriate database records.