‘Digital’ transformation is seen as a business imperative across industry sectors, but perhaps most so in banking and financial services given the global nature of the business.
‘Fundamental to being a digital organisation is the reduction of paper. In the current always on, 24 x 7, digital environment where numerous technologies co-exist, paper is an impediment to smooth and timely flow of information. In a recent survey conducted by AIIM, the global community for information professionals across industries, 72% claimed that “business at the speed of paper” will not be acceptable in five years’ time.
It’s not hard to see why. Converting paper to a digital format makes it an ‘asset’. Electronic files are easily and cost-effectively stored; backed up for business continuity in safe and secure locations; instantly indexed and archived for fast search, retrieval and re-use. Thereafter, well-structured and configured document management processes and automation is vital to benefit from worker productivity and efficiency. Additionally, organisations must optimise their document management processes to facilitate collaboration (both internally and with customers) as well as to assist with regulatory compliance. Let’s see how.
We know that devising an efficient way of preserving and managing electronic records is imperative for reducing risk and aiding compliance. So organisations need capabilities for version control or locking down documents, to restrict access to all and sundry – and to enforce accuracy. Existing automated document management processes can be used to apply policies for document retention and retirement – especially in banks and financial services organisations where there is multi-jurisdictional activity, and undertaking the exercise manually is neigh impossible.
Also, it’s widely recognised that adherence to regulations is much more pronounced in the banking sector, so utilising the underlying document management processes can enable lawyers and compliance officers to access and share vital compliance information in real-time, across different time zones and language barriers. Moreover, as laws and regulations are not static, banks can set up system alerts in their document management system to inform staff of critical, new developments in a timely manner.
Another major benefit of a document management system is to enable compliance officers to know what to look for. To elaborate, given the pace of regulatory change, it’s not unusual for members of the legal or compliance departments in banks to not always know ‘what’ information to look for and how to access it. Establishing a system that is able to recognise conceptual links between pieces of information makes staff automatically become aware of related compliance issues and delivers information while they were working on a certain case or business project.
In the banking and financial sector, the ecosystem of service providers, suppliers and clients are spread across geographies. A document management function can be set up as a shared service to collaborate with customers and internal users/departments alike. For instance in banks, legal and corporate departments can use document management processes to collaborate with traders on the floor to ensure compliance. In fact, a leading national UK bank is already doing this – the Company Secretariat uses its document management system to establish processes with traders to ensure compliance of the Dodd-Frank legislation. Such an approach is hugely beneficial as every email can be automatically stored in the document management system, which proves valuable in audit situations.
Banks and financial services organisations have multiple offices and departments, and often each workplace organically adopts its own methodology for document management. This makes it difficult for teams spread across office units to work together as typically each would have its own style and format for the same or similar records. This then results in unnecessary duplication of effort and documentation, and can lead to inaccuracies creeping into data that is stored and used.
A single version of the truth that is accessible by all parties and teams concerned is therefore imperative – it can be achieved by reducing paper in the business by instituting organisation-wide document management processes, regardless of the geographic location of staff and offices. Only then can digital transformation projects truly deliver benefits. Document management and automation processes genuinely underlie digital transformation.