Document Management Can Save Money For Agents
While agencies and brokerages, like many businesses, are feeling the squeeze in a down economy, there is hope for significant savings via software and systems designed to help companies manage document storage and workflow, say experts in the field of document management.
“Document management is an opportunity for agencies to save themselves a ton of money, improve customer service and minimize risk,” says John Sarich, insurance industry marketing manager for FileNET Corporation, Costa Mesa, Calif. FileNET markets technology to help organizations realize increased productivity, customer satisfaction, and profitability via improved business processes.
In trying to identify a return on investment for their computer systems, agencies should look at management of documents that concern contracts and commissions, says Sarich. For both commercial and personal lines, he notes, “the biggest bang for the buck is imaging and scanning everything that comes in the door and managing the content.”
“Everything is content, no matter how it comes in,” he continues, noting that all relevant e-mail, written notes, telephone conversations and paper mail “should be merged into a customers file.” The result of having all this in one place, he says, is “incredibly improved customer service.”
In many cases, says Sarich, the storage and management of documents is “horribly inefficient,” allowing much information to fall through the cracks. The right software, however, “can automate business processes according to the rules you set up. Its called workflow.”
Sarich recommends that agencies seek out software that is “fairly easy to install, manage and support.” Its also important to select applications that work with the agency management system in place. And while smaller vendors may cater to smaller agencies, he cautions that such vendors may not be in business for the long haul.
The biggest mistake an agency can make with regard to document management systems “is to look at it as a single purpose acquisition,” says Sarich. “You want it to work throughout your business processes, and you dont want to have 19 different vendors in your back room.”
While agencies may be tempted to use their agency management systems for document management, Sarich notes, “Most agency management systems are good at accounting, but lousy at customer service. They can track policies and renewals, but they are not a document management system at all.”
Gerard Bush, senior account executive for Computer Sciences Corporation in Columbia, S.C., agrees that with document management, “the potential for savings is tremendous.” CSC markets document management solutions to the insurance industry.
Bush asserts that, “Agencies should get 5% to 10% savings on the bottom line” by using document management technology. Combining document management with workflow and work management systems, he adds, “will certainly drive up” those figures.
Among the benefits agencies can derive from document management and imaging systems is faster document retrieval, says Bush. In a paper-based filing situation, he notes, “You have to go to a file room, pick through piles, pull out a file, then re-file it later. Theres also the risk of losing a paper file.”