Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Make More of Your Data-rich Systems to Meet Dodd-Frank Requirements

By Laurel Sanders, Optical Image Technology (lsanders@docfinity.com)

Remember Aesop’s fable, The Miser and His Gold? A miser buries his cache of gold coins under a tree, periodically unearthing them and marveling at his lustrous collection before hiding them again. One day, an onlooker notices. Shortly afterward, the fortune disappears. The miser’s opportunity to use his treasure is gone. The moral: “Wealth unused might as well not exist.”

The lesson applies to the valuable information systems you own, too. If they aren’t integrated to enable efficient sharing of your content everywhere it has value, their potential is wasted. Idle information might as well not exist.

Dodd-Frank: implications for the enterprise
If you’ve followed the latest financial publications, you’re aware of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Like other current legislation, the new laws are designed to:

· Reduce fragmentation and complexity in data management;

· Demand data consistency enterprise-wide; and

· Increase organizational transparency.

Similar to recent healthcare regulations, Dodd-Frank has significant implications for data management across the enterprise. The good news: if you already have quality information systems, you may be able to meet numerous challenges without starting over—by giving your systems a common foundation.

Building on what you have
When your institution chose its core financial systems, line-of-business applications, email application and other software, significant deliberation probably preceded each purchase. Unless your systems are ancient (or worthless), we’ll assume good quality capture of data, and solutions that achieve what they were designed to do.

Challenges in meeting recent regulatory requirements arise from demands that exceed what your systems were designed to accomplish. Many solutions were intended to address departmental needs without a vision to enterprise-wide communication. Now, legislation is demanding an enterprise approach that:

· Unifies data classification practices;

· Certifies information accuracy and consistency;

· Standardizes reporting; and

· Creates uniform data governance frameworks.

Enterprise content management (ECM) software, when integrated with business systems, provides centralized, uniform access to diverse digital information -- no matter how it’s captured or where it resides. Think of it like a credit card. If you’ve traveled internationally, you know it’s challenging to manage purchases amid constantly changing currency. A credit card alleviates the aggravation, allowing diverse systems to communicate seamlessly. Instead of converting currencies, just swipe your card. The exchange is automatic; the transfer is understood. You get what you need, within moments, wherever you are.

The role of browser-based ECM
If your workers value their separate information systems – which they probably do – ECM doesn’t demand change. Instead, it enables secure 24/7 access to a centralized repository that connects authorized persons with all of the systems and information they’re allowed to see, and to use the latter according to their permissions. ECM lets you dictate things like:

· Who can list or view specific document types;

· Who can edit, annotate, sign, or email them; and

· Who may purge or delete files.

Information becomes standardized, accessible via a single repository and a consistent interface. The system knows where all of your content resides, and which information belongs together, just as your credit card recognizes purchases you make and the countries, currencies, and US equivalencies each represents.

1.Unifies data classification practices
Uniform classification requires a strategic file plan alongside carefully conceived taxonomies that meet diverse needs. ECM provides the tools to execute that plan faithfully. Scans, bar codes, and online forms consistently follow your prescribed indexing rules, easing search.

Together, your indexing plan and ECM ensure:

· Metadata criteria are complete upon document capture (file type, lifespan, format, source, etc.);

· Data captured meets criteria for length, format, type, etc. (i.e., ID numbers requiring a pre-set sequence of digits/dashes);

· Data pertinent to search is complete and compliant, ensuring success;

· Document types are segmented to ensure searches return relevant information.

2.Encourages information accuracy and consistency
When ECM includes process automation, meaningful data is captured and re-used intelligently. Business process management (BPM) software throws your documents and information against your rules, ensuring speed and uniformity in routine decision making and exception handling.

Together, they let you:

· Associate, package, and flow related files for action;

· Pre-fill forms and documents with stored information, eliminating keying errors;

· Extract and push data from one source to another at specific points in recurrent processes.

3.Enables standardized reporting
Just as your credit card bill summarizes your purchases--regardless of where and how they were made--ECM extracts data from multiple systems with which it is integrated so you can create holistic, complete reports. Instead of separate audits detailing customer transactions from various applications, everything is centralized, providing better insight. Automatic conversion to PDF and other formats ensures universal access while guarding against tampering.

4.Creates uniform data governance frameworks
Good governance--a central thrust of Dodd-Frank legislation--requires an IT infrastructure that supports fairness and uniformity in decision-making and implementation. For informed decision-making, data used to reach decisions must be accurate, timely, and appropriately accessible at the exact moment individuals need it. Information no longer required to be kept (and could put you at risk) can be migrated, purged, deleted, or destroyed according to the law.

Wide-ranging document types, diverse users, ever-changing retention laws, and the challenges of overseeing them make quality governance one of the greatest enterprise challenges. ECM levels the playing field, ensuring organizational practices are upheld. Rather than subjecting your documents, information and policies to the preferences and personalities of departmental managers, they are subject to your rules. No favoritism. No oversights. No mistakes…and a thorough, digital audit trail of transactional activity verifies compliance.

Use what you have—better
Managing your content effectively is like managing your credit card: it requires forethought, planning, and procedural adherence. Don’t be miserly with your data; ECM ensures you use it while it’s timely and relevant.

ECM can’t do your planning, but it ensures policies and rules are honored faithfully without exception, enterprise-wide. I can’t speak for you, but when someone invents a credit card that knows every resource at my disposal and flawlessly honors my intent, I want one!

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