Centralized vs. De-Centralized

“Can I get a show of hands…how many banks centralize all scanning?”

This was the question posed by an Accu-Summit attendee this year in Colorado Springs. So, how did her colleagues respond?

With banks ranging in size from $100 million to well over $1 billion, it’s no surprise that there was a diverse mixture of opinions. Some prefer the centralized approach, while others (especially larger banks with many branches) prefer a de-centralized imaging workflow.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the comments and imaging best practices shared by Accu-Summit attendees.

The Case for Centralized Scanning

Funneling all paper and electronic documents to a single location sure seems like a lot of effort, doesn’t it?

For some banks, it’s apparently well worth it. As one banker pointed out, centralized scanning and indexing provides greater control over quality assurance. “If you have thirty different scanners, you’re going to have thirty different ways things are getting scanned into your system. Then, somebody has to go and clean things up.”

Some attendees even asserted that centralization offers a cost-savings opportunity. Clearly, new scanning equipment and user training has a tangible cost. Centralized banks forego this upfront expense, restricting all scanning and quality assurance work to a small, dedicated group of team members.

The Case for De-Centralized

As the conversation progressed, several skeptics began to voice their opinions about centralization. One banker from a very large institution raised a good question: “For those of you that are centralized, how would you propose we gather documents from our 45 different locations?”

Good question. So good, in fact, that no one had an answer.

The reality is that some banks simply cannot centralize their scanning. This is especially true in today’s era of consolidation. Bank geographic footprints are rapidly expanding, which makes the couriering of documents virtually impossible.

As a banker from the cornhusker state put it, “We can’t courier stuff all across Nebraska. Instead, we focus on creating experts. We make sure people are aware that scanning is part of their jobs. They’re even responsible for ensuring quality control. This empowers everyone at our bank, including the end users.”

Based on our limited banking sample size at Accu-Summit, the following seems true: the bigger the bank, the more attractive de-centralization becomes.

The Case for a Hybrid Approach

Is there a middle ground between centralized and de-centralized? Although most banks fall distinctively into one of two camps, there seems to be a hybrid option.

One Accu-Summit attendee explained his institution’s unique approach: “We centralize all of our loans, but we de-centralize our deposits. Branches are responsible for scanning and quality controlling things like signature cards and deposit account documents.”

He then clarified how the bank divides quality control responsibilities. “Keep in mind, our bank QCs everything, so for deposits we have branch managers do the quality control. For our loans, which are centralized, we have someone else from our scanning department do the QC. Our general rule is this: if you scan it, you can’t QC it.”

By centralizing only a portion of the scanning, this bank is able to reduce its courier expenses without handing total control over to the branches. This approach might be particularly useful for institutions that are heavy on deposit accounts or light on commercial loans.

Which Approach is Best?

So, which approach is right for your bank? Obviously, there’s no perfect answer. As we learned from the Accu-Summit attendees, your bank imaging strategy is probably going to be a continuous work in progress. The good news is that AccuAccount’s flexibility accommodates a wide variety of imaging models. As your bank’s footprint and asset size evolves, AccuAccount makes it easy to pivot when necessary.

Oh, and one final thought – if you found this article helpful, you might consider attending Accu-Summit 2018 (click here to ask for preliminary info). By attending, you’ll gain first-hand insight into important topics, such as building an effective imaging strategy.

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