Thursday, May 31, 2007

Opportunities for Payment Processors: Industry Trends

In the latest issue of TODAY Magazine Ed Bachedler Director of Research from Dove Consulting looking at TAWPI studies as well as other’s clearly points out that the remittance processing industry is entering an era where the dominance of paper checks as the most popular bill payment instrument will be over. Paper checks are being replaced by an expanding array of electronic payment methods ranging from ACH eChecks to prepaid cards. Studies have documented what many billers are already experiencing, that electronic payments are rapidly displacing paper-based bill payment methods for U.S. households.

Graph: Paper-Based Bill Payments as Percent Total
If trends continue, paper-based bill payment methods may fall to a 44% share in 2007, down sharply from a 78% share in 2001. As a result the key implication for managers in Remittance Processing operations need to take a bigger role in the payments puzzle and help develop a strategy for electronic payments and this is why.

The rapid changes in the payments landscape and proliferation of payment methods are putting pressure on remittance processors to manage their increasingly complex operations with limited resources. ARC check conversion, Check 21 and Image Exchange initiatives are fueling a shift from paper to electronic processing and require system upgrades and investments for processors to realize the benefits. Consumers and businesses are writing fewer checks each year as financial institutions continue to expand “free” electronic bill payment. Importantly, the rate of change for electronic bill payment is accelerating and suggests that paper-based bill payment will reach an economic “tipping” point versus electronic payments in the next two to three years. Consequently, the key success factors–service offerings and economic equations for billers–are also shifting, which in turn will drive remittance processors to adapt their systems and processes to simultaneously capture the inherent economies of scale of electronic payments with compounding complexity of managing an ever-increasing and diverse payments mix. For many billers, the business case for investing in new systems will be difficult to develop unless they can articulate a broader enterprise perspective that crosses traditional organizational silos.

Lockbox Volume Trends Suggest Growth in Outsourcing

TAWPI members involved in remittance processing have been divided about the direction in their remittance processing volumes. Over half of the respondents who only process in-house remittances have seen volumes trending down in the prior year. On the flip side, however, over half of the processors who conduct only external remittance processing operations have seen volumes going up. This may be due to consolidation in the business—as more external clients are added, gross volumes go up. The volume trend is mixed for those processors who perform both in-house and external operations, with 51% seeing an upward trend and 43% seeing a downward trend.
Graph: What Volume trends have your seen in your
remittance processing operations over the past year?

The Postal Diary Study shows that the total number of bills paid
increases each year, however, the growth has been captured by
electronic bill methods and the number paid by a mailed check is

Graph: Monthly Average Household Bill Payment Method

Dove Consulting’s bi-annual consumer payments preference study has shown that the adopting of automatic and online bill payment using credit cards and ACH methods has steadily substituted for paper-check payments.
These trends have been validated by other recent research studies.
Graph: Recurring Bill Payment Mix
Anecdotal data from discussions with billers reveals that electronic
payments now represent the majority of their payments received, and this does not include ARC or Remote Deposit Capture activity.

Lockbox Operator Adoption of Web-based
Payment Services The remittance processing environment has changed dramatically since TAWPI’s 2001 Study – now the majority of participants do provide a Web-based payment alternative.
By 2007, three-fourths of the participants expected to offer Web-based payment capabilities.

Graph: 2001-2006 Study Comparison: Web Based Payment Alternatives

Billers and payment processors wanting to take advantage of the
growth in electronic bills and payments need to recognize distinct
behaviors by households concerning both aspects of transacting. The
Household Diary Studies offer insights that can help billers and payment processors better manage costs. While there is potential for considerable growth in both electronic bill presentment and electronic bill payment in the years ahead, there are signals that households prefer mailed bills to electronically delivered bills. Remittance Processors must determine a migration strategy to take advantage of the growth in electronic bill payments volume and address complexity.

• Bill payment economics will shift rapidly as paper check unit
costs rise over several years.
ACH check conversion can’t occur if there is no check (source
documents) combined with increasing customer churn out of
ARC as they stop writing checks.

• Outsourcing will accelerate as processors seek to capture remaining
volume for over which to spread their costs.
Lockbox operations will be squeezed to keep paper payment
costs falling per unit.
• Exceptions will become increasingly painful and expensive.
Workflow and volume growth will be critical to success.
• IT systems must be tied together to support customers payment
data. The increasing adoption of corporate ERP systems (e.g.,
SAP, Oracle) increases the need for live links to customer files to
achieve efficiency in AP and AR posting.

Good News

• Remittance Processors are processing payments on a very cost
effective basis vs. card-based payments.
• Speed is the key to productivity in Remittance Processing.
– Throughput (items per paid hour) rates have increased through
the adoption of image based systems and work-flow management.
– Faster extraction, fewer errors, fewer passes/key strokes and
more image-based automation, better OCR/ICR accuracy.
– Read-rates and process quality continue to improve.
• Best Practices operations have adopted image processing and
use Six Sigma methods to meet customer needs.

Ed Bachelder is the Director of Research at Dove Consulting.
He can be reached at 617-753-9223 or ebachelder@doveconsulting. com.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Is Google entering the OCR space?

Announcing the OCRopus Open Source OCR System

Posted by Thomas Breuel, OCRopus Project Leader:

We're happy to announce the OCRopus OCR Project, a Google-sponsored project to develop advanced OCR technologies in the IUPR research group, headed by Prof. Thomas Breuel at the DFKI (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Kaiserslautern, Germany).
The goal of the project is to advance the state of the art in optical character recognition and related technologies, and to deliver a high quality OCR system suitable for document conversions, electronic libraries, vision impaired users, historical document analysis, and general desktop use. In addition, we are structuring the system in such a way that it will be easy to reuse by other researchers in the field.
The OCRopus engine is based on two research projects: a high-performance handwriting recognizer developed in the mid-90's and deployed by the US Census bureau, and novel high-performance layout analysis methods.
The project is expected to run for three years and support three Ph.D. students or postdocs. We are announcing a technology preview release of the software under the Apache license (English-only, combining the Tesseract character recognizer with IUPR layout analysis and language modeling tools), with additional recognizers and functionality in future releases.
The IUPR research group has extensive experience in OCR and related technologies, and will be basing the work on previous research and existing software in the area. Existing software components include high-performance handwriting recognition software that has received top evaluations by NIST and was deployed by the US Census Bureau, the recently open sourced Tesseract OCR system, a separate Google project for probabilistic natural language modeling, and software for layout analysis and character recognition. The IUPR research group gratefully acknowledges funding by the German BMBF, the state of Rhineland Palatinate, and other public and private partners (please see for more details).
We are hoping for contributions by the open source community in areas such as adapting the system to additional languages, creating a Gnome desktop application, integration with Gnome desktop search, web-based tools for proofing and training, language modeling, additional character recognition engines, and other useful tools and add-ons.The project web page can be found at

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

US Mobile Banking Trends: Beyond the Buzz

Mobile banking will be a significant financial services channel that will be used by 35% of online banking households by 2010. The relevance of mobile banking and the likelihood of its success have been in question. But mobile banking is here to stay and will grow significantly faster than online banking, according to a new report from Celent, US Mobile Banking: Beyond the Buzz. By 2010, 35 percent of online banking households will be using mobile banking, up from less than 1 percent today.

New functionalities will make mobile banking distinct from online banking and attract users. For instance, mobile banking will eventually allow users to make payments at the physical point of sale. These “mobile contactless payments” will make up 10 percent of the contactless market by 2010.

Mobile banking initiatives are of particular interest to 18- to 25-year-olds, also known as Generation Y. They will gravitate to mobile banking faster than the general population. According to the report, 40 percent of Generation Y indicates that mobile financial services will be a factor in their choice of bank. Five years from now, a significant percentage of this demographic will be in cell-phone only households, retrieving information and conductions transactions from their handheld devices frequently.

Celent estimates that by 2010, upwards of 70 percent of bank center call volume will come from mobile phones. Half of those calls will be related to basic balance inquiry information. This information will be readily available on a phone and will take less time than a phone call. A customer service inquiry via mobile banking (as opposed to a call center) will cost less and be an impetus for banks to embrace this new channel. Mobile subscribers of data services will cut across income levels, age, and ethnicity and are very good leading indicators of mobile content usage, including mobile financial services.

"The mobile banking end game will not be about checking balances and paying bills. It will evolve into a mobile wallet, allowing banks to generate greater electronic payment volume through the combination of electronic loyalty programs, mobile marketing, and contactless payments," says Dan Schatt, author of the report and senior analyst at Celent. “While loyalty and marketing applications are still largely confined to product roadmaps, they will make their debut in late 2008, and by 2010 we will see the fusion of mobile banking and mobile contactless payments.”

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Remote Deposit Capture, Payments Automation, & Imaging Forms Processing Forum-Opening Reception Extravaganza!!!

The TAWPI 2007 Show August 12th to 15th in Boston is slamming with special events for attendees to enjoy in between our packed agenda focusing on key topics surrounding, remote deposit capture, payments automation, and imaging and forms processing.
Do not miss the Grand Opening of the Expo Hall where a "surprise special guest" will be officially openthe Expo Hall and mingle with the crowd during the reception. Plan to be there and enter to win some great prizes!

The 2007 Grand Opening will be sponsored by:

Beginning at 5pm Sunday at the Boston Hynes Convention Center the 2007 TAWPI expo hall will be open for business.
At 5:45pm at the opening TAWPI will be giving away two pair's of Red Sox tickets for Tuesday night’s Red Sox game! (August 14th). Our surprise special guest will draw the business cards of the two lucky winners at the KeyMark booth (#107) and a drawing will also be held at the Hyland Software booth (#821). So cross your fingers and plan to be there! This drawing is open to Expo Only and Full Forum registrants only, and you must be present to win.

At 5:50pm Sunday our surprise special guest will also draw the business card of two lucky winner's; each of dinner for two at Boston's most famous restaurant Legal Sea Foods. A stones throw away from the Hynes. The drawing will take place at IBML’s booth (#212) and the Kofax booth (#227). If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal!

At 6pm Steve Sweeney will take stage for all attendees. Steve Sweeney is the brand name in New England comedy! You’ve seen him in “There’s Something About Mary”, “Me, Myself & Irene” and “Next Stop Wonderland”. He’s been featured on “Late Show with David Letterman” and in “Comics Come Home”, and you’ve listened to him for years on WZLX radio. Grab a beer and some popcorn and don’t miss your opportunity to enjoy his special brand of humor!
All this just for the opening....For more information Click Here!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Guide To Implementing Back Office Conversion-Webinar

This webinar from March 15th looks at the practical applications for Implementing Back Office Conversion presented by TAWPI's Payments Capture to Clearing Council (PCC), Kristine Oberg VP, Product Development Group Manager, U.S. Bank and Amy Gutierrez VP Strategic Market Development, NOVA Information Systems. While Check Volumes are declining the cost to process checks is rising. Learn about the benefits of Electronic Check Processing (Depositor), Retailer Check Acceptance Costs, BOC Workflows, BOC Rules, and how BOC works.

To download the webinar with full Audio Feed and Power Point CLICK HERE.

TAWPI's PCC is a strategic group of operations managers, product strategists and technology providers devoted to improving payment capture and clearing operations through candid discussions of relevant research, regulations and real-world case studies. Formerly known as the Remittance Processing Council, the new PCC takes a holistic view of receivables whether traditional paper checks, point of sale (POS, BOC), telephone (TEL), or Internet (WEB). The PCC is not dedicated to one payment channel or capture option but rather how to manage all the options and ultimately maximize and secure your company’s shift from paper to electronic.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Distributed Capture Checklist for Evaluating a Distributed Capture Solution

Today Distributed Capture has different definitions to different people in the industry. Banks, Merchants and Corporate Treasurers look at distributed capture as scanning checks remotely via a small desktop scanner and electronically sending the check image through an exchange network and onto their respective bank.

Others in the capture industry view Distributed Capture as scanning documents via an MFP remotely and distributing those images to the locations where documents once originated. Looking at the latter in the case TAWPI, Datacap Inc. and Canon USA conducted a Distributed Capture Survey to 328 individuals, of these 164 employed production scanning at remote distributed locations. Among the 328 respondents, 36% classified themselves as high volume users. Our study identified quite a few interesting findings looking at ROI, success factors, scanning applications, etc.
The study also created a Checklist for Evaluating A Distributed Capture Solution which according to those surveyed below were conditions to assure the success of a distributed capture solution which hopefully will help you in your quest in evaluating a solution for your operation.
The checklist below will not guarantee success but the more times you ca answer yes the more likely the solution will deliver satisfaction to you:

1. Browser Based Scanning? yes/no

2. Is the solution easily scalable? yes/no

3. Automated validations of data? yes/no

4. Easy to use edit screen for correction and rapid indexing? yes/no

5. Robust central administration? yes/no

6. Real-time monitoring of work in progress? yes/no

7. On-line scanning? yes/no

8. Encryption and other security features? yes/no

9. Does the "duty cycle" of scanning device match the document volume at each remote site? yes/no

10. Enabling of clearly defined business rules regarding scanning and indexing of documents? yes/no

11. Flexibility to easily adapt change? yes/no

12. Good customer references? yes/no

13. Implementation 3 - 6 months? yes/no

14. Reasonable implementation costs? (i.e. professional services cost less than 33% of software cost)? yes/no

Monday, May 21, 2007

Remote Deposit Capture Forum - Practical and Real-World Applications & Implementations Uncovered--Conference Agenda

If you, are at all involved in treasury/cash management or looking at rolling out a remote deposit capture or back office conversion solution than you've got to attend this year's TAWPI Event in Boston this August 12th to 15th. This event will be the most real-world practical look at distributed capture ever! Click Here for more information.

This Forum highlights emerging trends and options for distributed capture including Back Office Conversion. The Remote Deposit Capture Forum will examine challenges, opportunities and business drivers for implementing remote capture:

Remote Deposit Capture Forum sponsored by Wells Fargo..................................

Forum Keynote: Emerging Payment Trends, Opportunities & Threats
Keith Theisen, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Bank
The session will overview the current payments landscape, highlight major trends in instruments, volumes and marketplaces and then will discuss how these trends offer both opportunities and challenges for the financial institutions and alliance partner. The speaker will also discuss how to develop a plan for matrix payment channel management and manage all the options for best funds availability.

Successful Remote Deposit Capture Deployment at National City Bank
Danne Buchanan, CEO, NetDeposit: A successful Remote Deposit Capture solution deployment involves more than just adding a check scanner to an existing check processing mechanism. Successful RDC deployments involve understanding how the product works within the existing system to provide effective and efficient solutions that drive quantifiable financial results. This session will discuss how RDC can improve process by understanding the ways in which the technology, the banking partner and the organization can stream line deposit, accounts receivable, remittance functions and cash management.

Implementing Back Office Conversion
Kathy Levin, Senior Vice President, GACHA
Sam Robb, Vice President & Payments Group Manager, Mellon Working Capital Solutions
Back Office Conversion (BOC) was introduced in March 2006 and enables retailers and billers to convert payments received at the point of sale or manned bill payment locations to ACH entries in a controlled, back-office environment. What will the impact be to each of the ACH participants? How does it compare with other check conversion solutions? This session will provide a review of the requirements of Back Office Conversion from a Rules perspective, as well as discuss implementation and operational considerations. Learn about all the communications, resources, and tools that were developed for organizations interacting with consumers - financial institutions, retailers, and processors.

Remote Deposit Capture Networking Breakfast Sponsored by NCR Corporation - Network with industry peers who are in the process of rolling out a distributed capture solution.

Brinks US: Next Generation Vault Cash Management through ASP-based Remote Deposit Capture Technology: Paul Blachowicz, Manager of Customer Solutions, Brinks Inc.; Randy Malchar; Metavante Image Solutions.

How to Implement a Remote Deposit Capture Automation ASP Solution
Paul Citarella, Exec. VP & General Manager, Alogent Corp. As a merchant, making the strategic decision to adopt remote deposit automation is one thing. Moving from internal justification and acceptance of this strategy to a successful ASP-model implementation is another. In this case study session, one end-user teams up with a remote deposit ASP solution provider to explain the process from beginning to results. Learn how accomplished their objectives from solution evaluation, building ROI parameters and a business case, the details of implementation, specific challenges and how they were overcome, and their results to date.

Back Office Conversion Workflows: Evaluating the Models
Kristine Oberg, VP Product Development & Group Manager, US Bank; Tom Kettell, VP, Marketing, RDM Corp.
Check Image Exchange Panel: Rusty Carpenter, Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer, Viewpointe; Susan Goold, ECS Product Manager, SVPco; Dan Littman, Payment System Consultant, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Dick Zedeker, AVP, Major Accounts NCR Corporation.
Capturing More Customers with Remote DepositCharles Kelly, Senior VP, Processing Services, Sky Bank Bob Meara, Senior Analyst, Celent, LLC Steve Buchberger, SVP-Solution Management & Product Development – Payments, WAUSAU
Remote deposit capture has expanded from deposit processing to include C2B and B2B payment processing, presenting additional markets and revenue opportunities. What are the primary benefits of this phenomenon?

Disaster Recovery Success Story after recent F5 Tornado

Greensburg, Kansas Bank Serves Customers Quickly with Help from Outsourcing Partner Fiserv after Tornado Levels Town

Greensburg State Bank in Greensburg, Kansas is open and functioning after an F5 tornado destroyed much of the small town, the bank’s only building and killed twelve people on May 4. The bank is back in full operation due to the strength, courage and human spirit of the bank’s employees and the help of its outsourcing provider, Fiserv, Inc.

In spite of their personal property losses, by Monday, May 6 at 9 a.m., Greensburg State Bank employees had erected a tent outside the destroyed bank building and reopened. Later that day, using the Haviland Telephone Company offices and high speed Internet, Fiserv assisted the bank in configuring a salvaged laptop which allowed the bank to transmit electronic debits and credits through the automated clearinghouse (ACH).

The following morning, Fiserv delivered newly-configured personal computers which allowed the bank to access all its banking processes, and created a secure connection into the Fiserv data centers. The bank, with assets of $54 million, had complete access to its computerized applications over this secure Internet access line to navigate accounts and records, and make transactions to help its customers in Greensburg and Kiowa County, Kansas as they tried to cope with the disaster.

Tom Corns, Greensburg State Bank president congratulated Fiserv for helping get the bank on the road to recovery, "The officers, directors and staff at Greensburg State Bank would like to thank Fiserv and its employees for the exceptional work and outstanding job they did to bring our data processing services back online after a complete loss of building and computer equipment. They had a technical support person come out and help us establish all computer links with Fiserv and our data processing continued without a skip. I think Fiserv has done an outstanding service to this bank and this community."

“The people in Greenburg had lost their homes, their belongings and their town. They needed access to their accounts and their money,” said Craig Marvin, president of the Fiserv Des Moines Data Center. “Disasters are something that we hope never happens, but we do plan for them. We felt honored to be in the position to help.”

Fiserv employees from item processing and account processing worked to return all services to the 83 year old bank, including installing the newly configured computers, providing equipment to support all aspects of branch capture, as well as donating office supplies, printers, adding machines, scanners, and temporary forms. When phone service was restored to the town, Fiserv ordered an emergency circuit into the bank’s temporary facility for a dedicated data line to West Des Moines and Topeka for all the bank’s account processing, branch capture and item processing. This is a permanent, secure solution to allow Greensburg State Bank to do account queries and all the functions it had before the storm.

Greensburg State Bank didn’t miss a beat. We worked hard to get the bank back up and functioning, because the bank needed it, and the town needed it,” explained, Frank Smeal, president of the Fiserv ITI Outsourcing Division. “We wanted to do whatever it took to help bring some sense of normalcy back into the lives of these individuals who were so hard hit. With their lives turned upside down it is so very important to have their bank available to them.”

Friday, May 18, 2007

Brinks U.S. Signs with Metavante to Offer Banks and Corporate Customers a Growing Range of Remote Check Image Capture Services

Brinks, a premier provider of logistics solutions and secure transportation, expands services with Metavante’s Sendpoint distributed image capture technology.

MILWAUKEE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Brink’s U.S., a division of Brink’s Incorporated, a global leader in providing secure logistics solutions, and Metavante Corporation, the technology subsidiary of Marshall & Ilsley Corporation (NYSE:MI), announce the launch of Metavante’s Sendpoint distributed image capture service to Brinks’ cash vaults across the country. Metavante’s Sendpoint service provides for the remote image capture and image exchange of deposits and payments received from Brink's Vaults, accelerating deposit capture from receipt through posting and presentment.

Brinks manages a large national network of more than 100 cash vaults around the country. Combining cash processing and logistics, Web-based information tools and secure armored transportation, Brink’s allows financial institutions to compete in new markets without expanding their branch network. In conjunction with Metavante Image Solutions, Brink's now offers a suite of vault image solutions, enabling check image capture and electronic presentment throughout its nationwide network. Brink’s customers can take advantage of a complete, end-to-end image-enabled payment processing solution designed to help them expand geographic reach, lower costs and reduce risk.

“Brinks and Metavante Sendpoint are redefining traditional cash vault services by offering financial institutions and retailers an efficient and cost effective electronic check solution. Together, we are integrating with financial institution back-office systems to provide check images and customer posting information,” said Fred Purches, senior vice president, strategic solutions and product management, Brink’s U.S. “Establishing a long-term strategic alliance with an industry expert like Metavante is not only exciting, but beneficial to our customers. We can now give customers a full range of deposit and payment management solutions, eliminating costly logistics, improving availability of funds and creating new efficiencies in the supply chain.”

“The integration of Metavante’s Sendpoint check image capture technology with Brinks vault operations is a excellent example of how the payments industry can push capture out to a distributed environment,” said Brian Hurdis, president, Metavante Image Solutions. “Brink’s is offering an innovative solution that provides a competitive advantage for banks, and high-volume merchants and corporate accounts.”

Metavante Image Solutions provides comprehensive solutions that help banks and businesses transition from paper to electronic payments and image processing. Solutions that can be delivered in-house or outsourced include distributed capture, check and remittance processing, fraud detection, and document and report management. Metavante Image Solutions customers encompass banks and corporations of all sizes worldwide from de novo banks to the largest financial institutions and corporations.

How It Works

In the constantly changing secure logistics industry, Brink’s has continually led the way by creating innovative services and solutions. Now, with Metavante’s Sendpoint distributed image capture applications, financial institutions can receive a secure, locally centralized proof of balance. Specifically, the cash-in tickets and paper checks are truncated as they are image captured. Then, check deposits are balanced, adjusted and forwarded to the Metavante Sendpoint service, where the check images are formatted as custom X9.37 files for posting or bank-to-bank image exchange. This scalable, full-service solution improves commercial customer float, provides real-time web access to information and nearly eliminates the need for costly transportation and processing of physical checks, which allows Brink’s to timely process deposits virtually anywhere in the country. Currently, this innovative solution is in production for two of the nation’s top five financial institutions and will be introduced to other business partners throughout the course of this year.

About Brinks, Incorporated
About Metavante

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Imaging and Forms Processing Forum- Boston MA. Aug. 12th to 15th

On August 12th to 15th over 1,500 key industry practitioners from mid to large size corporations from a broad vertical market base involved in imaging and forms processing operations and information management will gather in Boston for TAWPI’s Annual Forums and Expo. Attendees will hear topics involving performance benchmarks in unstructured document processing, business cases on distributed capture, how compliance and risk management standards are reshaping end-user thinking, automating invoice processing/accounts payable, new recognition technologies, and workflow models.

Some Selected Featured Educational Sessions Taking Place;

Forum Keynote: Emerging Trends in Content Management & Archiving; Whitney Tidmarsh, Vice President of Marketing Content Management and Archiving EMC Corp.

Unstructured Document Processing: A Town Hall Meeting Panel Discussion: Lively discussion on optimizing forms processing and information management.

Best Practices in the Worst of Times: Using ECM for Disaster Preparedness: James Lock Client Solutions Mgr. Treasury Services JP Morgan Chase.

Process Improvement: The Road to Operational Excellence; Joan Forrer, RN, Master Black Belt, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

The Future of Distributed Capture: Ken Truitt System Administrator Randolph Brooks Federal Credit UnionRandolph Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU) and Gil Quihuiz Sr. Product Manager Kofax. RBFCU is one of the top ten credit unions in the United States, is capturing loan-related documentation remotely from its branches to better service loan requests centrally. This session will share how they created a bridge between the back office and the front while changing the way they handle documents from batch-based to transactional. Hear how they created a smoother, swifter process that reduces costs and allows them to serve members more quickly and efficiently.
Procurement to Implementation at Georgia Department of Revenue: Tim Shields Georgia Dept. Revenue, Bo Minogue OPEX Corp.

Accounts Payable Automation and Integration: Hyland and Microsoft

Issues and Opportunities in EOB Processing

To Register or for more information visit

Monday, May 14, 2007

Outsourcing Mail Services

From TODAY Magazine-

Does It Make Sense For Your Company?
By John Walsh

“Time is money.” Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote rings true
even today, as every company makes decisions on what services to outsource and which ones to keep internally. Key factors that always seem to come into play when deciding whether to outsource include time and cost – how much time is spent on the activities internally, and how much would it cost to have a third party perform those activities? This certainly applies to the mail department, as many of you know. All other factors aside, who doesn’t want to save time and money on mail services? Many companies have found that outsourcing theirmail services can save quite a bit of time-intensive labor – but not all companies qualify for outsourcing.We encourage you to re-evaluate your mailroom operations and consider all the possibilities in order to maximize time and money. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the main issues to consider while evaluating your mailroom operations. And if you decide that outsourcing might work for your company, we also provide a more in-depth look at the technology offerings and capabilities of mail services providers. Investigating Your Mailroom Operations Take a closer look at what kind of mail your company is currently sending. Is it Priority, First Class, Standard, media mail, or bound-printed matter? Are you sending brochures, catalogs, lightweight mail, electronics, or bills? If you mail personal items such as birth certificates, licenses, payment coupons, stock certificates, or other items of this nature, your company is probably better off keeping mail services in-house, since many personal items must remain First Class and cannot be handled bymail services providers, as dictated by U.S. Postal Service regulations. Other mail, however, might qualify for outsourcing. How much does your outbound mail typically weigh? If your company is currently shipping items First Class through the U.S. Postal Service, consider outsourcing your mail operations to a mailexpeditor that can help lower costs while ensuring that your mail under a pound is delivered in a timely fashion. Also, many mail providers specialize in certain volumes or types of mail. Take a look at the mail providers’ qualifications for types and sizes of mail, and consider where the mail is going – will it be mailed overseas or somewhere in the United States? Rates and qualifications differ based on where the mail is headed. Consider the frequency of your mailings. How often do you send mail? Is it on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis? Do you have one large mailing two to three times a year? Depending on the frequency of yourmailings, it is imperative to evaluate how much time your staff is putting into the process of preparing mail. Also think about how your mail is processed. Examine mail operations from the start – from creating mail pieces to applying postage and sorting. How much time, energy, and cost goes into this process, and how many people are involved in the process? Mail services providers shorten the process by taking your mail, applying postage, sorting, and picking up the mail for distribution to the post office for final delivery to the destination. The value or time sensitivity of your mail items should dictate the level of security and visibility into your mail activity. Do you need to know where your mail is at each point in transit? Would you like a regular report of activity? Mail providers may offer a status report so that you are always aware of where the mail is, at any time.

Implementing Outsourced Mail Service OK, so let’s say you’ve examined your internal mail operations and you’ve researched different mail services providers. You’ve decided that your company’s mail meets postal regulations and you plan on outsourcing some but not all of your mail operations.
What’s next? Once you have agreed to start using a mail services provider, a
sales representative will come out to get your account set up. You will get a proposal with rates and materials for setup. Then, you will fill out forms that list the types of mail and specifics about the mail that you’re sending. The last step in this process is to set up the
shipment tracking system and establish lines of communication with your mail provider to ensure you are constantly aware of what is happening with your mail. This fast and easy process usually takes just a few days. And you might just end up saving anywhere from 10 – 50% on your postage. Now, you may be wondering how mail services providers can offer these cost savings and streamlined services.
The answer, in part, is technology. Technology Offerings Mail services providers can provide the convenience and ease that many companies come to appreciate. For instance, many providers offer technologically advanced processing and sorting systems that expedite themovement ofmail pieces. UPSMail Innovations has such a technology – the Automated Processing System (APS). APS is an advanced technology system that significantly cuts down on manual handling during mail processing. APS includes both hardware and software applications. As pieces of mail are passed through the APS, the equipment measures the mail’s length, height, and thickness while the address is scanned. The measurements and address are stored in a database and filtered through a software program, which evaluates how to route the mail piece before applying postage. Approved by the U.S. Postal Service, APS technology identifies what type of automation the Postal Service should require for the piece, easing its induction into their system and promoting the U.S. Postal Service’s efforts to achieve 100 percent automation compatibility. APS provides a variety of benefits for customers, including– but not limited to – overall cost savings on postage and overall mailroom cost reduction.

In addition to processing and sorting capabilities, many providers offer online delivery confirmation and tracking so that customers know exactly where their shipment is in transit. UPS Mail Innovations has a service called the Accurate Reporting and Tracking Systems (ARTS™) that allows you to view shipping reports by date range, shipment control number, or cost center summary. The report that customers receive enables them to have quick and easy
access to shipment data; customer service at their fingertips; financial management tools; and distribution management. Mail services providers can provide tracking capabilities that
allow visibility of mail pieces, from the pick-up spot to the final destination. In addition, mail services providers can often provide electronic invoicing for customers so that bills can be sent to all cost centers in a fast, streamlined manner. This reduces in-house costs because one e-mail is sent to all end-users. Overall, mail services providers offer the latest technology and services that can help businesses save time and money. Now that’s a winning combination.
John Walsh is Vice President of Business Development for
UPS Mail Innovations

Thursday, May 10, 2007

An Apple a Day---Teamwork and Recognition are Key

by Dan Bolita editor TODAY Magazine

I ran into a friend at a trade show recently. We got to talking about the various shows we attend and how some are easier for exhibitors than others. She told me of her experience at a certain “Windy City” which carries a long-standing notoriety for having particularly challenging contract labor. As many of TAWPI Forums & Expo exhibitors know, because TAWPI’s annual event has been in this unnamed Windy City, there is a reputation that in order to get anything done, skids (and palms) should be greased. So, this mild-mannered exhibitor came to her event (for the record, not a TAWPI event) with a stack of crisp $100 bills, prepared to tip and toke in order to get her barges moved and bales lifted. As it turned out, she had also brought a sizeable quantity of McIntosh apples to be shared at the booth, and quite naturally offered them to the journeymen whose services she needed to hustle freight. Much to her surprise and delight, the stack of dollar bills were never needed. The crew of rugged roustabouts (which, isn’t derogatory, I checked) were so enchanted by the offering of fresh fruit, that they gave her freight the special handling she’d thought only U.S. currency could provide. Which got us thinking about what motivates people?

Obviously the money part is important, and few could continue working without it, some of the best incentives don’t cost a thing. The manual tasks of automated processes can be pretty tedious. Data entry, document prep, and forms correction are demanding jobs. With high turnover and low morale a frequent challenge, keeping skilled staff is a constant battle. The most successful managers identify the importance of employee recognition. Just as an apple can get pallets of freight moved, a word of thanks can motivate a skilled data entry team. Equally important is having those workers view themselves as a team. Two managers—both long-time TAWPI members—come to mind. Wes Friesen, manager of revenue for Portland General Electric, and our retired Board Chair Ken Yokum, both of whom genuinely engage with people, form teams of motivated staff, and know the value of kind word. Many of the attendees at the upcoming TAWPI Forums & Expo (August 12 -15, Boston) are heads of data entry, imaging, and forms processing departments. If motivating staff is a challenge, and stacks of U.S. currency for random disbursement is in short supply, I encourage you to network with your peers. I know that Wes will be there, and who knows, maybe Ken will make a cameo appearance. Ask them advice for team-building, incentives and awards.

You may also want to bring some ripe apples.....

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

How BOC’s Costs Create Opportunities for Check Processors

From (Digital Transactions - May 8, 2007) .

The back-office conversion e-check code has been live for nearly two months now, and, as many predicted with its March 16 debut, it came in like a lamb. There have been few, if any, high-profile product launches or other splashy events associated with the new automated clearing house payment option. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t activity going on behind the scenes. Banks and processors are ramping up a host of new payment services that offer BOC and check imaging. One of those is Plymouth, Minn.-based Solutran Inc., a specialty check processor that is preparing to roll out an outsourced BOC product called SPIN, for Solutran’s Point-of-Sale and Imaging Network. Michelle E. Kocur, manager of product development, tells Digital Transactions News that a “top” retailer that she won’t name yet started a 60-day test of SPIN on Sunday, and more SPIN clients are in the pipeline. “There’s a lot of great momentum,” she says. Under rules set by ACH governing body NACHA—The Electronic Payments Association, BOC lets retailers scan checks in their back offices to capture magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) line data and submit the resulting files for settlement as ACH debits. The code gives retailers an e-check alternative to NACHA’s older point-of-purchase, or POP, code. While leading retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is a POP fan (Digital Transactions News, April 17), many stores haven’t adopted POP because of its consumer-notification and staff-training issues and the perceived need to equip every lane with scanners. Press reports portrayed BOC during its long incubation period as a simpler, less expensive alternative to POP, but that’s not always true, according to Kocur. A national retailer with hundreds or thousands of stores could still spend millions of dollars equipping each store with back-office scanning/imaging gear costing $1,500, along with $500 for needed software. Plus, because of possible returns, many retailers feel the need to store paper checks for a short period even though the rules don’t require them to, thus creating security issues and the need to either get a shredder or hire a shredding service, Kocur notes. Straight BOC “was a hard business case to make to them,” she says. Solutran’s resulting solution was for retailers to outsource the whole operation to it through SPIN. Since the large retailers the processor works with all scan their checks for verification and guarantee purposes, the MICR information can be uploaded daily to Solutran for ACH submission. The paper checks would be shipped to a Solutran facility for imaging and destruction, with ACH-ineligible items matched with the appropriate MICR data and cleared under the Check Clearing Act for the 21st Century (Check 21) through image-exchange networks. Solutran also would handle the digital archiving of images and the destruction of paper checks. Solutran clients using SPIN would still have some direct costs with BOC, including posting signs and printing receipts informing customers about the e-check option. But the idea of outsourcing is falling on receptive ears, even though larger retailers have to go through lengthy approval processes to change their current payment systems, according to Kocur. “There’s a lot of interest, absolutely a lot of interest,” she says.