Modern Woodmen of America is a fraternal life insurance society that provides financial security for families through life insurance and annuities. And, as a membership organisation, Modern Woodmen offers a unique set of member benefits that focus on the fraternal philosophies of positive family life and service to community.
From the headquarters in Rock Island, Ill., Modern Woodmen serves a membership of more than 764,000 people nationwide. Modern Woodmen has helped families focus on a secure and positive future since 1883. As the needs of people in Modern Woodmen’s family market change, so, too, do the member benefits. Both insurance products and fraternal opportunities change to meet those needs. The imaging project described in this article represents a 119-year continuing commitment by Modern Woodmen to give quality service to members.
Kofax Premier Reseller Kirk Landwehrmier, from ISC Document Systems, says ISC helped Modern Woodmen develop and install a document management system anchored by Kofax Intelligent Capture and Exchange, the foundation for Kofax’s strategy to help organisations streamline business processes, and FileNET Panagon Image Services to provide faster, more secure and concurrent online access to the society’s life insurance policies, annuities and supporting documents.
Located in the Central Records department, the system replaced a manual filing system. However, Modern Woodmen’s paper repository still fills a third of an entire floor of a large building. Modern Woodmen Imaging Project Manager Pat Saunders estimates that at least 25 million pages are stored there.
The imaging application captures new policies as they arrive at the organisation as well as converting backfiles whenever underwriters or other staff request a document that hasn’t been scanned. This system has eliminated the need to deliver paper to users and soon will eliminate the need to store it.
A Unisys mainframe computer contains policy information for all members as well as whether a particular policy has been scanned. When an underwriter requests a document through the mainframe system, if the document hasn’t been scanned, the mainframe contacts Central Records and prints a header page that has the required index information encoded in eight barcodes. The page becomes the cover sheet and document separator sheet for scanning.
Each file contains approximately 40 pages and includes 35-to-40 separate documents. If they are pulled from central records, they may be up to 50 years old and yellowing, torn or even crumbling. The paper is initially scanned on one of three Kodak 9520 scanners. All resulting images are reviewed for readability. Poor scans are routed to the rescan queue, which comprises a Bell & Howell 2020 scanner equipped with Kofax VirtualReScan (VRS) document image perfecting technology, the de facto standard for capture productivity and quality throughout a document’s lifecycle. VRS does a wonderful job. It really improves readability, Saunders said.
Modern Woodmen currently scans about 3/4 million pages per month. Once they are scanned into Kofax Capture, the world’s leading automated information capture platform, and image processing has been completed, Kofax Capture recognises the bar code printed from the mainframe and fills in the appropriate index fields for the document type. The Kofax Capture Validation Module then queries the mainframe to verify that it has accurately indexed the document. Following release of images and data to Panagon Image Services, a final crosscheck with the FileNET document ID occurs.
The organisation also uses Kofax Capture’s hand printing recognition (ICR) to audit how many documents are prepped for scanning by each operator. A unique number has been assigned to each imaging specialist, who writes his or her number in the corner of the header page. The system stores all audit data in a SQL database, which can generate performance reports for Central Records management.
External database lookups are a common means for automatically verifying index data. Version 5 and later of Kofax Capture offers a user interface which eliminates the need to program most database lookups. ISC developed a customised solution that could communicate with the proprietary flavor of COBOL which ran on the Unisys.
The sophisticated validation and auditing schemes were partly designed to allow Modern Woodmen to eventually discard their paper records and release the office space for other uses.
Landwehrmier says ISC developed a custom Release Module based on the standard Kofax module for Panagon Image Services. The module enabled the updating of the mainframe regarding whether a document has been scanned as well as feeding images and index data to Image Services in its native format.
Modern Woodmen conducted a thorough evaluation of several production capture applications. One big reason we chose Kofax Capture is its stability, Saunders said. This really is a mission-critical application. If this system goes down, agents and underwriters can’t access member files. There is no longer any system for distributing paper files.
It’s ability to be customised was another key factor, said Randy Archer, the Modern Woodmen senior programmer and analyst who, together with ISC, has performed the customisation. It has allowed us to precisely meet our needs. Archer also praised the Kofax training class he attended. It was very thorough. It got us up and running quickly.
Saunders says Kofax Capture has also been a hit with operators. It has been so easy to learn and to use that it has allowed operators to rotate among jobs every two hours. They can move from prep to scan to validation, which makes the day less monotonous, he says. We also like the pricing structure. Kofax Capture included the full product capabilities in the price of the product rather than requiring the purchase of each major function separately. This gives us room to upgrade the application without buying anything else.
In fact, Saunders says forms processing may be the next step. Enrollment form workflow is still a manual process. He plans to bring that workflow into the electronic capture process to save time and money. This will require forms recognition, constrained handwriting recognition and lots of check mark recognition. Kofax Capture already contains these capabilities. Saunders says he is also considering the optional Neurascript module designed for more complex forms processing.
All of which can help Modern Woodmen’s commitment to give quality service to members on into the next century.