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Electronic access for NBAD

The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) has deployed an enterprise content management (ECM) solution from FileNet as part of an overall project to develop an integrated electronic access infrastructure.

As financial services institutions seek to deliver universal end-to-end services that customers demand — from banking and investments to lending and insurance — meeting the challenges of managing and analysing customer data has never been more important.

In an effort to keep pace with the stringent demands of the evolving market, banks such as NBAD are integrating critical business processes across multiple business divisions and various legacy systems throughout the enterprise. Banks in the UAE have to keep all their records for five years by law, and therefore face a large task when it comes to content management.

Recording net profits of over US$305m for the financial year 2004, NBAD is the largest bank in the UAE in terms of total assets, deposits, number of branches and ATM network. “At NBAD, 60 million documents are produced every year. As commonly used documents have to be copied at least five times, this meant that a large amount of staff time was spent manually searching for and managing documents,” says Faris Saddi, IT services manager at NBAD.

The ECM solution, developed by Ebla Computer Consultancy, FileNet’s value-added reseller for the Gulf, will help the bank build an electronic infrastructure for content, documents and processes. This will lead to the streamlining of NBAD’s paper flow and cut down on required storage space by a third, leading to faster transactions and better services for customers.

The bank’s ECM solution includes FileNet’s Image Manager, Content Manager and Business Process Manager applications. “We have documents that are taking up a lot of prime space and we wanted to scan the documents and move them out of the branches, [and] have a centralised storage that manages documents,” says Saddi.

Previously NBAD was using microfilm for personal loan documents. The legacy system was proving to be slow and uneconomical to sustain, requiring regular repairs and maintenance. “It would take about one week from the time we microfilm a document until the microfilm images could go to the branch. We needed to upgrade the system because there was a delay in sending the documents from the branches to the head office for approval,” explains Saddi.

Aside from being costly and difficult to maintain, the legacy system could not keep pace with the demands of the developing business, allowing little room for future scalability. The bank, therefore, took the decision to implement a more efficient and up-to-date solution that could assure quality and service, as well as facilitate safe and quick business decisions. “There was a pressing need to electronically route papers between people and departments in order to speed up operations. The decision was made to discard our ageing microfilm system and build an integrated, electronic access point to all content, documents and processes,” Saddi adds.

Having evaluated several different products and short-listed four, NBAD chose FileNet. In order to test the solution, the bank deployed it at one branch and conducted a customer satisfaction survey. “We found that most of the users were very happy with the retrieval. The retrieval rate is much higher and much faster than the paper documents. Accordingly, we went onto a phased implementation.”

Region by region, the solution is being implemented to all NBAD’s branches. End-user PCs have to be upgraded and bandwidth of the bank’s existing network had to be increased to at least 1 Megabit per second to accommodate the additional traffic. Also, because the solution requires a central repository system, NBAD, which originally had the hardware on hard disk, has now invested in massive storage hardware based on an EMC storage system. “The entire project amounted to approximately US$1.2 million, including staff hardware and software upgrades,” according to Saddi.

The project was managed by Ebla Computer Consultancy and took seven months to complete. Automating business processes and decisions have hastened the pace of operations, thereby increasing the productivity of employees while reducing costs and adding revenue to the bank’s bottom line.

The solution is now managing the bank’s vouchers and loans workflow and is already hailed as a success after NBAD reported a 30% improvement in its day-today operations. Furthermore, the solution is streamlining the way content is shared and accessed across every business unit. “The upgrade has eliminated the delay in sending the bank’s loan approval documents from the branches to the head office and this has increased customer satisfaction,” he notes.

In a market as strictly regulated as that of financial services, banks must ensure content security and access rules are in accordance with regulatory mandates. However, as commoditisation of the banking sector increases, institutions must also implement the most efficient processes to drive accurate and timely decision-making, as this presents real opportunity for competitive differentiation. The new ECM solution in place at NBAD is allowing the bank to activate content and create an intelligent virtual file for every client.

The institution has been able to optimise and streamline the processes that drive its operations and automate business rules across its branches. As a result, Saddi says, he expects the bank to see considerable return-on-investments (ROIs) within a year. “We are very happy to hear that control over key banking business processes and related content has already improved the productivity and cut service times for our customer, ” says Carlo Stellati, vice president of FileNet in South Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Once all of its branches have the ECM solution deployed, the bank will scale the solutions to meet the changing demands of its customers and employees. The financial institution plans to leverage the solution by providing services such as credit card approvals, trade finance, electronic fund transfer and letters of credit.

It is hoped this will not only improve the quality of customer service, but also enable the bank to expand its customer service offerings, increasing client interactions via self-service capabilities. “We are going to increase it to take on all the documents and customer files in every department. On the workflow side, we also want to process all the corporate banking and corporate loans,” Saddi concludes.

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