We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jerry Wiese, Chief Information Officer at Compeer Financial, at our annual Naviant Summit. We talked about their document management solution journey, the positive impacts of implementing OnBase, how to prioritize projects, using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), upgrading, and more.
Compeer Financial is a result of three agriculture financial organizations – 1st Farm Credit Services, AgStar Financial Services and Badgerland Financial – merging in July 2017. They provide loans, leases, risk management and other financial services in 144 counties throughout Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin with 47 offices and nearly 50,000 clients.
Jerry Wiese was the CIO at Badgerland Financial where they had been using OnBase for ten years. Since 2007, Badgerland partnered with Naviant as their business process management consultants and OnBase solution provider. Compeer Financial has decided to leverage OnBase as their enterprise document management and workflow solution.
With all the recent superhero movies, tell us about your OnBase origin story and what prompted you to seek a content management solution?
We started with a document management system about ten years ago. We were looking at an increased workload. We had staff in multiple locations. Instead of adding staff in one location to satisfy the workload, we started thinking about if we had these documents electronically we could leverage staff in other locations. That was the leading reason for us to start looking at a document management system. When we started looking at OnBase, we also started looking at some simple document capture solutions for us. But we realized, in the long run, we wanted more benefits out of this. Capturing documents was the first phase. We wanted to look at what enhancements could be made going forward with that. We looked at a lot of possibilities and solutions that could increase efficiencies, workflow and that is how we ended up with OnBase.
What is the biggest positive impact that OnBase has had in your organization?
I would say the biggest positive impacts would be the workflows and efficiency gains. You know when we look at the positive impacts and look at our staff, they may not even know it is OnBase that is behind a lot of this. We have used the Workflows and the APIs and sometimes they are in their everyday business application and don’t realize they are actually working with the OnBase utilities. It is amazing what we can do with that.
What is your favorite OnBase feature or capability?
Workflow is easily the number one. I also asked our IT staff about this, and they also said that Unity API is huge. With Unity API, a lot of time, users don’t know where they are working in, but we can integrate these different software platforms. They also mentioned the COLD and PDF input filter modules and records management document retention.
What is one new OnBase capability you are interested in now?
I would have to say PDF framework module. We are working with a lot more PDF documents and having the ability to split those into different workflows.
There was an original plan for a first project. Then another project. Then the floodgates opened. How do you prioritize projects?
We have a lot on our plate right now with the merger, but when it comes to the business needs and request, we have a steering committee governance team that is made up of business and tech users. We look at the business need and what is the biggest impact for the overall company. It is amazing how quickly this all started out. We started with OnBase 10 years ago, and at first people love paper – you talked about kryptonite before – that is a kryptonite; people love paper. And they have to develop the confidence to let go of paper and move to digital. When we released OnBase to a lot of different departments, we looked at getting the documents in an electronic format. But then with each department, we worked with, we implemented one workflow just to start out a quick win. As the business saw that, you would get requests like, “well, we want what the crop insurance department has!” It just took off from there.
Have you started or explored using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) either at a full-text level, template level, intelligent extraction level?
We started using that. We use it in our tax and records department for tax documents there and our loan documents. We do Ag Lending. We use them in those two areas and in our compliance and legal departments we absolutely will. We are using full-text searchable. It is incredibly valuable for looking and finding content that isn’t tagged as a keyword with maybe the criteria you are looking for.
How often do you upgrade and what is your testing process during the upgrade process?
We are usually about one version behind. As far as the testing process, we partner with Naviant to come in and upgrade in our test environment. Then over the weekend, we upgrade and make sure we test the integrations that we have very carefully and then the workflows.
You are stranded on an island, yet you must work. You can only take one OnBase client with you. Would it be the Thick Client, Web Client, Unity Client, Outlook Client, or Mobile Client?
I really want them all, but I would say Mobile. We really like what we have been able to do with that.