Case Study – Banking

First Union Mortgage

You're a homeowner, and you need to get a hold of your mortgage documents immediately from your loan institution, which happens to be First Union Mortgage Corporation. Unfortunately you know from past experience that requesting documents from your loan office and receiving them in the same week is very often problematical. But this time, a couple of hours after putting in your requisition, a call comes in. Your documents have arrived. How in the world...?

Welcome to the new dawn of document management and retrieval. First Union Mortgage, a subsidiary of First Union Bank, is the sixth largest bank in the United States, with over $143 billion in assets and serving over 12 million customers. In coordination with SunRise and FileNET, First Union has installed an image management system that allows the millions of loan documents in their huge backfile library to be accessed in a timely and organized manner.

When First Union decided to upgrade their loan file control method, they looked to accomplish three things:

  • improve the handling of custodial documents for mortgage loans during the life of the loans
  • establish a central source for requesting documents needed for servicing
  • anticipate the need for documents within the daily work flow

The Solution

They found their solution with SunRise microfilm scanners and FileNET's document management software. "Two of the bank's departments (First Union Mortgage Corporation and First Union Home Equity Bank) are using this new process," explained Mark Dunn, Systems Consultant at First Union. "(What we're doing is) on-demand scanning for requests of mortgage documents for servicing loan files. For document capture, we're using two types of methods: paper to optical with various scanners, such as Kodak and Bell & Howell, as well as microfiche-to-optical, which is what we use the SunRise scanners for."

"Prior to implementing this program, (the system) was basically manual," Dunn continued. "For instance, a customer might need to see a note from their mortgage. The request would be documented, and the microfiche would be pulled from the custodial vault, copied, and sent to the requester. The whole time the document was pulled, it had to be logged in at each location it went to, since there are certain regulations that had to be followed for insurance reasons and according to federal regulations. So it was about a three-day turnaround to receive the document."

RowScan Speeds Throughput

First Union's choice for the scanning portion of this massive job was SunRise's digital scanner, the only dedicated scanner that would get the job done in the time frame available. The scanner is connected to a local access network (LAN), which is equipped with SunRise's high-throughput software product, RowScan. RowScan divides the three basic operations of microfiche document conversion (scanning the rows, segmenting the images in the rows and extracting the images) and distributes the labor into a network environment. In this manner, the scanner, which performs the first step of the operation, can run at its optimum throughput speed.

The segmentation and extraction operations are performed downstream on workstations connected to the LAN. The segmentation process is essentially a QC operation, while the extraction process can be performed without an operator being present. Union Bank is using one workstation to complete the segmentation stage, which involves capturing the rows covered by the scanner, segmenting the images within a particular row and then, if needed, performing several quality control operations to the images (i.e., deleting unwanted or poorly photographed images) before sending them on to the extractor.

The extraction operation is also completed on a single workstation. The basic function of the extractor is to cut out all of the segmented images and save them as digitized files to a user-selected directory on hard disk, compact disc or other storage device.

IDC™ Corrects Contrast Variance

In addition to RowScan, First Union is also using SunRise's image enhancement software, Image Density Compensation (IDC). IDC uses a unique adaptive thresholding technique to correct contrast variances between separate images or within the same image, on the fly during the scan cycle.

Explained Dunn: "The microfiche was coming from various sources. We were having serious contrast differences between the microfiche, because we have no control as to where they came from. We'd get the scanner set up for one microfiche, and it would work for a while, and then I'd get a phone call from the operator saying that they were looking bad again. Once we started using IDC, however, we started getting increased throughput with this film since we didn't have to go back and rescan the film; IDC does the decision work for us."

FileNET Handles Online Management

Once the documents were put online, First Union turned to FileNET, which has proven to be robust enough to handle the expected growth, survive in a distributed environment, and meet the needs of the business on the desktop. First Union also created Document Request, the software which runs under WorkFlo on the requester's workstations, to facilitate on-demand requests, have quick access to loan folders, and decrease service time.

Developed using Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0, as well as FileNET's WorkForce Desktop 5.0, WorkFlo Controls for Visual Basic and Visual WorkFlo 2.0, Document Request provides the requester with online access to all loan documents. When a request is made from one of the 300 image-enabled/WorkFlo-equipped workstations, the user is presented with the loan selection window in which outstanding requests and loan folders can be viewed and requests can be made. In the loan folder status view window, available documents are grouped by various categories, such as notes, riders or other loan documents. Documents are also made available to requesters based on the security level of the user.

From the loan folder status window, the user can view an image, request that a document be scanned, print or fax a scanned document or request a rescan of a bad or incorrect document. Various icons inform the user of a document's status, the status of a request or a document's location. The control within the window works as a standard tree view, with expandable/collapsible folders. If the image has already been placed online, it appears immediately on the workstation monitor.

If the requested documents are not online, however, Document Request/WorkFlo determines the location of the loan folder. "We're using (WorkFlo) to route requests to the proper locations, to where the documents are currently residing, whether they're in one vault downtown or another custodial vault in another area," explained Dunn.

A hatch header sheet is generated when the request is made and the document is not found online which initiates the retrieval of the loan folder. Information on the batch header sheet includes the exact physical location of the folder (used by the vault custodian), a bar code for auto-indexing at scan time, the requester's ID, the time of the request, as well as a list of the requested documents. Once the folder is found, the files are prepped for scanning (image QA, cropping, deskewing, etc.), document separator sheets are placed in front of each document type, the batch header sheet is placed at the head of the prepared set of documents, and the documents are scanned and then committed to the system. In a matter of moments, the documents are available online.

By using the Document Request/WorkFlo environment, along with the SunRise scanner to automate their paper flow process, First Union has improved service, increased productivity and positively impacted their bottom line, guaranteeing a microfiche document turnaround of 24 hours, a 300% improvement over their previous methodology

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