Strategies & Trends Te c h Ta l k
Do More than Store
by Jo Day and Kevin Day
f you are thinking about or are in the
“ It’s not just what, but how you implement
a document management system that
I process of implementing electronic doc-
ument management (aka the “paperless
makes the difference between mere storage
office”), then listen up!
If you approach electronic document
management simply as a replacement filing
system, then you are destined to miss the
boat. If your goal instead is to streamline
run a batch report from dbCAMS and the
Stephen Covey, fulfilling compliance
workflow, you will end up with an entirely Access database. Then he runs a process to requirements is one of those tasks that are
different design to your system with wildly electronically collate the reports.1 “important, but not urgent” (until the next
more successful results. “Next,” says Bienemann, “I put [the audit). To ensure that your office stays on
What do we mean? Let’s look at some compiled reports] on the network—[the top of compliance requirements, the
eye-opening insights into how innovative advisors] can look at electronic copies or process needs to be simple and easy.
firms, with an altogether different agenda they can print them out…if there are any For Molen and Associates, a financial
for implementing electronic data manage- adjustments, I may need to just replace one services and accounting firm in Houston,
ment than most planning firms, are using page or two.” Texas, fulfilling compliance requirements
their systems to do more than store. Upon final approval, reports are batch was a time-consuming and tedious task.
printed and sent to the client along with a Molen’s broker/dealer requires them to
quarterly letter. Once the reports are out maintain and submit a detailed log of com-
Automate Time-Consuming the door, Bienemann runs the second part pliance-related documents each week. This
Processes of her process, the “Auto Filer,” to file includes information such as the client’s
reports into Wingate’s electronic document name, type of document and document date.
Automating a time-consuming and tedious management system. The information is Molen must also supply a copy of the first
task is a big win for busy firms. then immediately accessible to everyone in page of each compliance-related document.
Like many planning firms, generating the firm if a client calls with a question. Under their old filing process, Molen
quarterly reports was always a labor-inten- Having used this process for two quar- was forced to file the documents to the
sive process for Wingate Financial Group in ters now, O’Brien estimates they have appropriate place in the client’s paper file
Lexington, Massachusetts. To effectively already recouped the project cost of $6,500. as well as an additional copy to a “compli-
tailor the information delivered to clients, Where the manual collating process used to ance” file. They then typed each docu-
Wingate combines data from dbCAMS and take three or four days using a dedicated ment’s information into the log.
an Access database to produce 500 consoli- employee, the automated process now takes Streamlining this process was an impor-
dated reports for about 2,000 accounts. four or five hours. tant consideration in the overall design of
Sheila Bienemann and Anita O’Brien, (the Automating is great, but how can you their electronic document management
firm’s IT director and director of operations also use the document management system system. According to financial planner
respectively), were determined to streamline to help overcome compliance hurdles? Emmet Scott, “We’ve cut our time to do
this operation by electronically collating and compliance from one hour [per week] to
automatically filing their quarterly reports. ten minutes.” Scott outlines the process:
Wingate now has a streamlined process Streamline Compliance 1. Each compliance-related document is
that enables them to create, review, file and filed into their document management
send quarterlies quickly. The first step is to Using the language of self-help guru system using predefined templates.
34 Journal of Financial Planning/September 2003
Strategies & Trends Te c h Ta l k
2. Scott’s assistant, Jacob Irving, performs laptop and scanner home from the office After troubleshooting the problem, your
a weekly search for new compliance- and hired his son and another high school system administrator updates the original
related documents, exports the list to an student to scan and file documents. support request by documenting what they
Excel template and e-mails it to their That way, says Laskin, “I can supervise did to fix it, changes the status field to
broker/dealer. their work and they can scan any time they “resolved” and e-mails the requestor the
The next piece of the process Irving want to—first thing in the morning or on revised support request. The requestor
plans to implement is encryption and elec- the weekends.” Even better, says Laskin, is confirms the issue has been resolved either
tronic delivery of the actual documents to he does not have to drive his son into the by changing the status to “closed” or resub-
the B/D. office to do the work. Now, when Laskin mitting it.
With their new process, Molen and goes by the office once or twice a week, “I By capturing support requests in the
Associates scans and files the document just ‘check in’ all the documents from my DMS, everyone can check on the status of
once, with no additional copies for compli- laptop. Last time I stopped in the office, I a request, users are given an opportunity to
ance reporting. Scott says the process has checked in 475 files,” says Laskin. say whether an issue has been resolved,
other advantages as well. “Sometimes the As evidenced by the above examples, not and the firm develops an online knowledge
B/D might misplace a week [of informa- only can you hire someone to do the filing base to aid future troubleshooting.
tion]. When they get ready for an audit, off-site, but with encryption techniques, you It’s not just what, but how you imple-
they would ask us to resend a week. Previ- can securely provide information electroni- ment a document management system that
ously, we’d have to search the documents cally to broker/dealers and third-party ven- makes the difference between mere storage
to find what we needed—now it’s real easy dors or back-office personnel. The next versus mega-streamlining. Go for the goal
to resend anything they want.” example even describes how to use a docu- of streamlining, and you will be thrilled
If you go paperless and all you do is get ment management system to streamline with the results!
rid of filing cabinets, then you’ve missed services from your system administrator.
out on the real benefit these systems can
provide to your firm. The next few exam-
ples illustrate how to maximize the benefit Get the Help You Need Endnotes
of using “virtual” employees.
Because you rely on a robust suite of soft- 1. While each of the firms interviewed for
ware and technology to help run your prac- this column use Worldox document
Outsource tice, an easy-to-use process that helps you management software, the workflow
get timely support from your system admin- processes may be replicated using other
Accessing client files from anywhere is an istrator can make the difference between document management applications.
obvious advantage of electronic document mere frustration and a missed deadline. The authors work with document man-
management, but what about hiring some- Here’s a simple process for both your agement software applications, includ-
one to scan and file remotely?2 staff and your system administrator: Using ing Worldox.
Roni Laskin, CPA, and Ben Tobias, a Word template, an employee creates a 2. In our last article, “Moving Forward,
CFP, share office space and clients in Plan- support request with a detailed description Backing Up,” we did not cover off-site
tation, Florida. Last year, they embarked of a problem along with screen shots of any backup options. We have heard from a
on a plan to jointly implement an electronic error message(s). We like a product called number of planners who are using these
document management system so they Snag It for copying and pasting screen services, and have compiled a list of
could more effectively share joint client shots (www.snagit.com). service providers at www.trumpetinc.
information. With an office move pending, Next, the employee files the support com/rs_articles.jsp.
Laskin and Tobias were equally deter- request into the document management
mined to scan and file all their historical system. (Many such systems allow the user
client documents to save on office space to attach a virtual index card to a docu-
when they relocated. ment). For Support Requests, the employee Jo Day and Kevin Day are principals of Trumpet Inc. in
Says Laskin, “I did not want to bring fills in the problem type, requestor and pri- Phoenix, Arizona. They provide technology consulting
boxes into the office [to scan]. The storage ority; sets the status field of the index card and services to financial planning firms via the
facility is near my house, so I brought the to “open”; and e-mails an attachment of the Internet. They can be contacted at info@trumpet
old files home.” Laskin also brought a request to your system administrator. inc.com or http://www.trumpet inc.com.
36 Journal of Financial Planning/September 2003