Digital Transformation: The Business Case Problem

This is the fourth post in a series on digital transformation, in which I’ve been looking at what keeps financial services firms from creating more TurboTax-like (and more positive) experiences for their customers. (Click here for the inaugural post in the series, which gives an overview and introduction to the problem.)

Over the past 20 years, Doculabs has helped numerous clients build their business cases for digitization and content management processes. You can see examples of our thinking on this topic here, here, or here.

One reason that digitally transforming the data capture process and moving from a classic, forms-based environment to a more Turbo-Tax or guided experience model is so compelling, is that it can deliver a real, hard-dollar return on investment (ROI). While many digitization business cases depend on soft savings (e.g. users spending less time looking for what they need) or cost avoidance (e.g. decreasing the amount of data that needs to be discovered during a litigation event or even decreasing the amount of hardware needed to support the growing amount of content in an organization), the case for digitally transforming data capture can:

  • Decrease time to money
  • Decrease “not-in-good-order” (NIGO) rates
  • Decrease the number of back-office professionals needed to double-key data, and
  • Decrease the number of calls to Customer Service about the status of a request-in-process

But, as we identified in my previous post, many organizations don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the entire, end-to-end process for something like opening a new brokerage account or executing a transfer-of-assets request. You might be able to track down key metrics in your organization to help build an initial business case. But in many instances, building a business case for digitizing these processes will require some industry benchmarking to develop an informed guess at the potential savings that can be achieved.

Here are some primary sources of data that will drive savings for your organization:

  1. What are the top three to five forms that drive a majority of the requests in a particular line of business? It’s likely that your organization has hundreds, perhaps thousands, of discrete forms that are processed on a regular basis. We have found that simply addressing the top three to five forms will drive sufficient savings to fund an initiative and demonstrate value for additional ongoing work.
  2. If you are required to produce and store a form that memorializes the transaction, how can you abstract the data from the form during the data capture process and deliver that to the back-office in a straight-through process, so that you aren’t paying folks to re-enter data that has already been captured upstream in the process?
  3. What are the transactions that begin digitally, but which are then processed in an analog manner, such as fax and force downstream data entry? (If fax is being used as part of the workflow, you are almost certainly incurring redundant data-entry costs.)
  4. What is the cost for digitizing incoming forms and extracting and validating the data, either manually or through use of automated capture technologies?
  5. What are the top NIGO triggers, and how can those triggers be pushed upstream to when the original request is being submitted?
  6. What is the cost for developing a new form or for making an update to an existing form? It’s likely that a large number of the new forms that are being developed or changes that are being made are redundant across your forms library, and that they’re only being repeated because you lack a process to work with modular elements across forms.
  7. Where can you use e-signature to accelerate a process, rather than waiting for a static document to be signed and then retrieving the data from that document?
  8. What percentage of calls to the call center are about the status of a form that has been submitted? What is the cost of those calls?

Volume of transactions will drive the business case for this type of initiative. If your organization is processing less than 100 forms per month, even at a high cost of $20 per application, you may not be able to justify the necessary technology and process changes to transform the entire process end-to-end. You will likely need to focus on a specific departmental application with lower cost and time-to-market for the solution, and then roll out across additional groups. If, however, you are processing thousands of applications and requests, you will likely be in a position to move toward more of a centralized model.

There are benefits to each approach. The primary risk to stay focused on if you take the departmental approach will be the scalability of the tool and process as you roll it out to additional groups. Ideally, you can vet a technology that will be able to grow with your program—and the technology question will be the subject of my next post.



Rich Medina
Lane Severson
I’m a Practice Leader, managing relationships with Doculabs’ West Coast clients to improve information management and security.