Workflow Automation & Multi-Channel delivery of critical customer communications for a Large US Financial Services company.
A large U.S. Financial Services Provider with millions of members was challenged with legacy processes, aging equipment, and a CEO-directed Digital Transformation initiative and needed a production optimization and Automated Document Factory (ADF) to modernize and automate their member correspondence and billing processes.
- Older cut sheet printers running Xerox print streams
- Green screen-based job submission
- Manual Job tracking
- No ability to proof jobs
- A 24-hour delay in job updates for large jobs
- Thousands of small jobs
- Month & quarter-end mainframe bottlenecks
- Manual Reprinting of damaged documents resulting in errors
- No automated production reporting
- Lack of IT knowledge of legacy processes
- Manual job steps in the mail insertion process
After a thorough analysis of workflow solutions, the Financial Services Company decided to implement Crawford Technologies’ PRO Conductor. PRO Conductor is a modern platform that supports the requirements of a low code interface and graphical reporting while still providing the high-speed transformation of legacy print applications and production workflow requirements of an Automated Document Factory (ADF) system.
This first stage was to define a set of standards and rules. The Financial Services company has a very talented IT team and wanted a workflow solution that would be capable of processing all their job types and various print streams without the need to force standardization to any one design format. They also did not want to have to deal with creating hundreds of templates for each document type that would need to be edited each time a business unit changed a document.
Together with CrawfordTech’s services team, they were able to develop techniques to map all jobs into the CrawfordTech Normalization Process.
This is performed when a print job enters PRO Conductor. This technique greatly simplifies the management of print workflows.
The production deployment utilizes only three robust comprehensive workflows:
- A Xerox legacy print workflow using a standardized output format
- A PDF consolidation, splitting, merging, and segmenting workflow
- PDF Marketing mail workflow for more ad-hoc, marketing/bulk mail jobs.
Hundreds of applications were normalized and processed through these workflows eliminating the need for each application to have an individual template, workflow, or hot folder. This simplifies the deployment and management of all applications and ensured that the rollout could be completed in a fraction of the time of most ADF deployments. This advanced workflow implementation is defined as “Normalization” by the Crawford Technologies team.
“This one item saved 1000’s of hours of programming and setup work that the other vendors were proposing.”
Archiving documents and access to that data were key components of the project as they provided a critical link to the enterprise Digital Transformation initiative. The legacy process used mainframe processing cycles to create PDF and index files for storage in a FileNet document storage system, which negatively affected other systems and downstream processes. As part of the PRO Conductor deployment, CrawfordTech moved the indexing to a server and automated the loading of FileNet with all the correspondence documents eliminating mainframe processing. Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s) now have easy access to view specific mail pieces and client communications in FileNet as well as via a secure web-based access to the ADF before the piece has been sent. This process was well timed as the company was short of trained resources that would have been able to configure change or troubleshoot the legacy-style mainframe applications.
Job and mail piece management and tracking was an extremely important part of the deployment of the ADF. The staff was using a legacy-style green screen interface (SDSF) to submit jobs to the printers. This process was manual and repeated thousands of times at the end of a quarter just to complete the normal printing and mailing process.
As part of the PRO Conductor solution, the job deployment process was migrated to Graphical User Interface (GUI) based drag-and-drop automated submission processes. Today, using the GUI, operators can simply drag job entries to a printer icon. Rights and rules were configured so that appropriate operator usage rights and correct printer usage is maintained.
Like many large corporations, support for legacy equipment was an issue that challenged this company. Budget constraints restricted the ability to upgrade inserters and printers to the most current hardware. Crawford Technologies post-composition software solved this problem. Some large jobs had required operators to manually insert mail into envelopes as the inserter required the output in reverse order. The PRO Conductor solution was able to reverse the print order, add new barcodes on the back of the sheets and enable complete automation of the insertion process using the existing inserter equipment without having to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in new devices.
At month-end the sheer number of jobs overwhelmed the operations team. Sometimes there were 4,000 to 5,000 individual print jobs ranging from single mail pieces to large jobs that would take up to 20 hours to complete printing. This created multiple issues:
- How can 5,000 print jobs be manually managed, tracked, and accounted for?
- How can we ensure each job successfully printed?
- How can we ensure we did not print the same job twice?
- How can the use of production equipment be maximized so that paper stock does not have to be changed for each job?
PRO Conductor was able to consolidate many of the small jobs into single large production output file. These large files were then split, segmented, sorted and output by inserter setup type to ensure that printer and inserter setup was only completed once for a given paper or envelope type. The ability to sort and merge thousands of files quickly and reduce thousands of files to only a dozen production print files made the accountability and manufacturing process simple and easy. The files were grouped by weight and page count, destination, paper, or envelope type while still associating each mail piece back to the initial print file for auditing and full piece-level tracking.
One issue that is sometimes overlooked when creating and deploying an ADF is tracking and auditing reprints. The legacy process required the operators to go back to the mainframe or select a page range to reprint on the Xerox printer controller. At best this was problematic, had little to no auditing and reprints often lagged one to two days behind the production file.
The new process utilizes the latest in CrawfordTech’s hyperautomation integration. PRO Conductor communicates with the inserter to ensure all pieces are successfully inserted. When a mail piece is damaged, PRO Conductor automatically gathers all the required resources and documents, produces a new print file and drops it back into the print queue and then waits for feedback from the inserter to ensure each piece was successfully inserted. This process is 100% automated, completely touchless, and ensures that each critical piece of mail is printed and delivered correctly to the USPS.
The previous workflow required manual processes for all tracking verification and auditing. As the team assembled goals for the workflow initiative, they identified many improvements in reporting, tracking, auditing, and approvals. PRO Conductor is an advanced integration platform with the ability to connect to virtually all printers, inserters and other enterprise systems. Removing manual processes has been an integral part of the PRO Conductor solution.
No longer do people need to walk the shop floor with clipboards to perform job tracking activities. Today, managers look at a real-time dashboard, with just the information and graphs that they select. They can view files, jobs, or even piece-level information from any connected device that has access to their PRO Conductor interface. On the approval side, PRO Conductor enables real-time web-based approval and review for different departments, which has been extremely helpful.
Lastly, and of utmost strategic importance, they needed a way to connect their print/mail operations with the corporate-mandated, digital-first strategy. This meant that all information should be available to a member on the channel that they choose when they choose it.
In simple terms, they needed to ensure that their entire output management team could be a proactive part of their eDelivery infrastructure and multi-channel Customer Experience. This integration was led by their IT team and leveraged PRO Conductor to suppress any print output for people who requested eDelivery, which is standard. An exciting aspect of this project was the use of multi-channel-based hyperautomation. If an email bounced back, an API call gathered the individual’s information and then created a print job with the important correspondence that could not be delivered electronically so the end-user would receive a piece of physical mail – then updated the FileNet archive as to the actual final disposition for audit purposes. Financial Services can be a very litigious business and the team managing the deployment was focused on ensuring that each member would receive their communication even if a channel were unavailable and that a detailed, regulation-compliant audit trail was available at their fingertips.
PRO Conductor delivered a modern ADF solution using Data Normalization, Low-Code and Hyperautomation
The installation and success of any ADF implementation comes down to vision, experience, and technology. For this project, PRO Conductor was the technology, Crawford Technologies Services Team provided the implementation and the client provided and articulated a future state that provided tremendous value to the enterprise.