Going Paperless Increases Office Efficiency & Productivity
Accomplish more work with fewer people in less time using an electronic document management system.
As ACT Executive Director, Jeff Yates wrote in AUGIE Survey: Agency Technology Having Big Payback for Many Agencies, “There is a multiplier effect starting to take effect for agencies that implement new technologies consistently and successfully. The biggest benefit seems to be that these efficiencies enable the agency to grow without increasing staff.”
One such opportunity for independent agents, discussed in a previous post, is Real Time. Another is the ability to move to a paperless work environment. When best practices are followed, going paperless using an electronic document management system can help independent insurance agencies tackle their operational processes, achieve increased productivity and improve customer service.
Why going paperless makes sense for an independent insurance agency
Consider the following two scenarios: First, imagine having to print each email you receive from your insured, get up and walk over to the filing cabinet, search for the insured’s folder, find the correct spot in the folder to place the printed email. Second, imagine a system that did it all for you – automatically. That is what you get with Partner XE and its Outlook Plug-in feature. In Partner XE, the Outlook Plug-in will automatically attach that email to the document section of the customer folder – no additional work required. Even if you only got one email per day this would be a nice feature. When you figure multiple emails per day for multiple employees, the time saving factor is huge. (Not to mention the green aspect of going paperless!)
In addition, especially with the advent of SaaS, workplaces are increasingly more mobile. To maximize efficiency, agents and customer service reps should ideally have access files and source documents anywhere, anytime. Going paperless, in conjunction with using an online hosted agency management system, makes it a slam dunk.
Best practices for going paperless
- Implement an agency management system such as Partner XE from SIS that uses an internal transactional filing system (designed to be compliant with existing E&O standards) to manage storage and store all system files and activities.
- Work with staff to determine the best method to scan and import documents into the system. This may depend on what type of scanning equipment you have in your office. Some agencies have big expensive multiplex scanners. Other agencies have less expensive workstation scanners. If you have a choice, our suggestion is to go with the latter. Overall, we have found that, when going paperless, the workstation scanners tend to be the most effective, primarily because they alleviate the constraints posed by a one-scanner system when more than one person needs to scan at once.
- Determine how you will handle old files. The two main choices here are whether to scan all old files into the system so that ALL documents can be accessed digitally, or to pick a starting date and go digital from that point on. It is important to speak with your service staff to collectively determine what makes the most sense for your agency. Making a big decision like this could lead to frustrations if team members aren’t on board and it’s not all planned out ahead of time.
- Establish a consistent document naming system. This is critical to be able to find files (no matter who created them) where you need them, when you need them – even several years down the road. Example: Emails should be tagged with “EML” and then the description, ACORD forms with “ACORD,” etc. By doing so, you can easily run a “sort” and group all of your emails / forms, etc. together
- Create and integrate new workflow procedures and ensure all personnel are properly trained. Make sure all involved understand what documents are attached to what within your agency management system, etc.
- When best practices are followed, an electronic document management system can go a long way towards helping organizations tackle their operational processes and achieve increased productivity and better customer service.
For more articles on the subject see the following links:
- Insurance Journal, Trends for 2012 – Soft Market is Here to Stay
- Insurance Journal, How Agency Technology Drives Profitable Growth
- IIAA, ACT Says Careful Move to Paperless Environment will Benefit Independent Agency System
About the Partner XE Agency Management System
Partner XE from SIS is an easy to use, online hosted insurance agency management system with logical workflows, exceptional download and comparative rater integration capabilities and best in the business Outlook integration.