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White Paper - Trusted Systems

Marketing Team - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TRUSTED SYSTEMS

Who, What, When, Where and WHY

If you were to receive a subpoena or audit notice today, are you confident that you can provide the requested records and information, and only those records and information?  If not, you are not working with a trusted system, as defined in the AIIM/ANSI Standard 25-2012. Also referenced are ISO 15489 and ARMA’s Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles.   

It is important to note that a trusted system is not limited to software requirements but encompasses policy, procedures and processes to ensure records and information are managed from the time they are received or created to the time of final disposition.  In other words, the responsibility for a trusted system doesn’t lie in one department but in all departments.

Let’s break it down into its component parts:

  • Governance – the rules
  • Technology – the tools
  • Process – how to use the tools according to the rules
  • People – trained on not only the how but the why
  • Compliance – saying it, doing it, proving it

Governance

Corporate Governance broadly refers to the rules, processes, by-laws and laws by which a business operates.  Information Governance is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing rules, processes, roles, controls and metrics that treat information as a valuable business asset. The common theme is the existence of rules and processes.  Governance is specific and direct; rules, processes, role definitions should not include the words ‘should’ or ‘may’ but ‘shall’ and ‘will’.  This removes uncertainty and the gray areas in which fraud can occur.  For a trusted system to exist, governance has to be in place and understood by everyone.

Technology

In a perfect world, information management technology is deployed and improves business processes by reducing the number of human touches, displaying outliers for either resolution (defect) or emulation (best practice) and includes tools to manage information security, integrity, authenticity, access and disposition.  The technology components that are deployed need to talk to each other so that an audit trail is established from the time a record is received or created to its final disposition, such as destruction or archival preservation.   

Process

Defined, published, communicated and attested processes are the heart of a trusted system. These are built upon the rules stated in the Governance section, with the tools from the Technology section appropriately configured and deployed to support Governance.  Business Process Management as it relates to Records and Information is the most common failure point in creating a trusted system.  Information management processes have traditionally evolved over the years according to personal preference or a limited understanding of business requirements.   Manufacturing techniques in process improvement, such as Six Sigma and Lean work-outs or root cause analysis in defect remediation, can be adapted to map out existing processes and identifying more efficient methods prior to implementing new technology.  It’s also helpful to address existing communication methods and education/training curriculum to ensure that the necessary changes needed to create a trusted system are adequate. 

People

In the transition to a trusted system, buy-in from all levels is important to your success.  Change is difficult and more so when it touches records and information.  Many employees believe, rightly or wrongly, the information on their computer or folders in their filing cabinet belongs to them and not the organization.  Changing how they create, save, distribute, protect, destroy or preserve it requires small steps and sometimes punitive measures.  Training on the how and the why is not complete until there is confirmation of understanding, in writing.  This ensures you can prove to the court or auditor your employees understand the processes, technology and rules in managing information.  Deviations from the process are identified as mistakes – ’reply all‘was hit on an email with PII - or as malicious in intent – PII was downloaded to a USB drive by a disgruntled employee.  Not everyone will be able to adapt to a trusted system for records and information management; so prepare for attrition. 

Compliance

 If you can’t prove that you are using the tools with the processes and procedures in place, you are missing the last piece of the system.  In your technology deployment, ensure audit functions exist and turn them on.  Audit your system from the receipt or creation of a piece of information (native electronic and scanned image) to its disposition.  Report on it.  Do this on a regular basis.

Checklist for a Trusted System

c  Executive level support

c  Single sign on – no group IDs for logging into systems

c  Records retention schedule with legal citations, defined operational requirements and criteria for declaring an historical/archival record as well as duplicate retention periods and disposition methods

c  Procedures in place that support corporate and information governance

c  Unique ID assigned to a piece of information from creation or receipt

c  Capture system that supports validation and verification of authentic records

c  Active use repository with workflow and retention modules to track and report on activity, approvals, holds and disposition

c  Archival repository with migration paths defined so that as technology changes the permanent records maintain integrity and authenticity

c  Training and education protocols with regularly scheduled refresher courses

c  Budget to upgrade and migrate hardware and software when necessary

c  Budget to train new employees

c  Budget to refresh training for existing employees

c  Scheduled process audits to ensure you’re doing what you said you would in the manner you said you would do it.

In summary, a “trusted system” isn’t a single piece of hardware or software but an ecosystem that supports and protects the organization.

Cheryl Ahrens Young, CIP, CDIA+, CTT+, APMD

Western Integrated Systems

Southern California Office

Direct:  (714) 997-3700 ext 31

Mobile:  (626) 824-1628

Email: Cheryl.Young@hsmg.biz

 

 

 

Business Intelligence & Analytics: The Case for the Healthcare Industry

Marketing Team - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Healthcare is data abundant.  It is in every medical practice, every hospital and every healthcare managing entity such as HMO’s, PPO’s, Medicare, MediCal, ACO, IPA’s and more.   In this blog you will be introduced to a real life example of making meaningful use of data and systems to optimize patient care and healthcare services overall.

Recently, Western Integrated Systems installed our Extract, Transform, & Load (ETL) solution with a major Independent Practice Association (IPA) in Northern California.    The challenge the IPA faced was delivering sustained high quality healthcare service levels in a paper intensive work environment.   The IPA sought a new solution to automate their business processes in terms of patient qualification, insurance verification, billing and elimination of excess paper work.

Using the ETL solution from Western Integrated Systems, the IPA has been able to achieve distinct benefits which improved their delivery of services and ability to provide quality care at all levels of their organization.    Specifically the ETL solution has allowed them to do the following:

1. Set up automated procedures, called robots, which identify and extract patient records from a leading primary data source.  These patients are specifically at risk and need further support and follow-up.   Formerly, this process required the completion and print out of PDF documents which were then transmitted to nine separate patient clinics.

2. A second procedure and robot was set up within the ETL solution to process insurance verifications.   The ETL solution was able to identify whether the patient was currently insured, their deductibles, and the time period the insurance policy was in force.  

3. Prior to the ETL, the process was completely manual and paper-based.  Now knowledge workers are freed up to provide more productive and meaningful work to improve the patient experience.  

4. The final step of the verification process is to make available the actual benefits to the qualified patient. 

The Results

Thanks to remarkable productivity gains using automated robots, the IPA has eliminated manual website downloads and they have reclaimed 90% to 95% of an analyst’s time for higher-value work.  The automation provided by the ETL has eliminated 100% of the cost of routine portal downloads, and costly transcription errors have been eliminated. 

The Future

The IPA’s success automating their partner web integration activities has validated their plan to review, automate, and streamline web-based business processes across the organization.

The use of key productivity tools such as ETL solutions are on the critical path, towards successfully implementing effective patient care strategies within the overall healthcare community.

Joe Ferrera

Business Intelligence & Analytics / Team Leader

Office: (916) 736-2191

Cell: (916) 792-4101

Email: joe.ferrera@westint.com

 

 

 

Records Management and Your Company - 2

Marketing Team - Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why should your company be concerned with records management?

In the last blog, I spoke about the state of records management as surveyed by AIIM in 2010, and how it hasn’t materially improved since.  Why?

Successfully implementing and deploying effective records and information management policies requires well thought out governance, people, process, and technology components. The focus must be on integrating the policies within the processes being performed by people and systems for transparent compliance.

Identifying a problem: managing records and information

The first step is recognizing a problem exists. Ask a few simple questions within your organization:

  1. Are records, regardless of where they reside, being managed in accordance with a records management policy and records retention schedule consistently across the organization?
  2. Are legacy systems and legacy media types present within the organization? Are we able to access and retrieve records from these systems?
  3. Do we have a preservation plan for electronic records that will enable necessary data to be retained and accessible for 5 years or more?
  4. Does governance for our records and information include executive commitment by legal, IT, and business area representation?
  5. Is compliance with records and information management policies monitored on a regular basis?

If the answer  is "No" to any of these questions, then there may be an opportunity for improvement and to partner with Western Integrated Systems to identify next steps. 

Cheryl Ahrens Young, CIP, CDIA+, CTT+, APMD

Western Integrated Systems

Southern California Office

Direct:  (714) 997-3700 ext 31

Mobile:  (626) 824-1628

Email: Cheryl.Young@hsmg.biz

Source: Strait & Associates, LLC (2011).  Why Should Insurance Companies be Concerned with Records Management   <http://www.straitassoc.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Why-be-concerned-with-records-management-03302011.pdf>

Records Management and Your Company

Marketing Team - Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why should your company be concerned with records management?

As we look around within our companies today, it is obvious the pace of business is not getting any slower. If anything, it's increasing. We can thank evolving technology for enabling us to be connected and productive around the clock!

The result of our productivity is being felt by CIO's and Records Managers within our companies. These individuals are expected to manage the volume of both physical documents as well as electronically stored information. For example, in one industry all 50 states have enacted a combined 950 statutes and regulations that include a reference to how records are to be retained and made accessible. Now with the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, some companies must be prepared to provide timely responses to requests for information. Failing to comply with any one of the regulations or statutes can result in a company being fined, facing sanctions or in a worst case scenario having their license revoked.

We entrust our IT and records management departments to keep our information in order, while also enabling us to decrease the time it takes to find and retrieve information. Add to this our expectation that they will ensure our companies maintain compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and keep us out of trouble.

Companies must have ready access to their information in order to provide timely responses to requests for information by regulators and consumers. Let's consider for a moment the number of businesses and individuals who ask us for information daily and the broad spectrum of locations where we have to go to find this information. As we reflect on that scenario, it should not be surprising to hear that studies have shown knowledge workers spend 25% of their time searching for needed information.

Industry Trends

Back in 2010, AIIM, a non-profit enterprise content management association, conducted a study to evaluate the management of electronically stored information. In 57% of the responding organizations, senior management reported more or much more awareness of records management risks to the business.

Yet, with the increased awareness of records management risks, only 43% of respondents believe that they have achieved integration of their records and information management policies across their organization. The impact of not having proper management over information is being felt. For 31% of respondents, a lack of complete electronic information has been an issue with regulatory authorities and for 35% it has been an issue in a court case.

In the latest polls taken within the industry, these numbers have not improved significantly. 

How does your company compare?   

Cheryl Ahrens Young, CIP, CDIA+, CTT+, APMD

HSMG / Western Integrated Systems

Southern California Office

Direct: (714) 997-3700 ext 31

Mobile: (626) 824-1628

Email: Cheryl.Young@hsmg.biz

Information Governance Captures Attention

Marketing Team - Thursday, August 21, 2014

 

 

 

 

Records and Information Managers’ responsibilities are rapidly changing as more regulations and new sources of information are introduced into the business environment. 

They must manage all types of information: paper, electronic as well as digital assets. Information Governance is the guiding principle in narrowing the gap between collaborative communications and corporate records, as well as managing information throughout its lifecycle.

Understanding this growing challenge, Western Integrated Systems (WIS), in partnership with Fujitsu Corporation, recently hosted the first ever Information Governance Practitioner Certification Program for our clients.

“I believe education and training are important in strengthening our on-going partnership with our customers,” explained Ray Hughes, Director of Operations.

The program created by AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management), the global community for information professionals, defines Information Governance Standards and outlines requirements and necessary steps in creating an Information Governance program.  The professional trained in Information Governance increases the efficiency and overall security of the organization’s information assets and mission-critical records.  

Although tuition for Information Governance Certification is normally more than $1,000, the costs were underwritten by Fujitsu, a premier provider of scanners and related document capture hardware.

Pamela Doyle, Director of Training from Fujitsu, taught the day-long course. She provided a road map on creating an IG program. She showed students how to develop an Information Governance policy framework. Some of the steps include: understanding the requirements, defining the scope, securing executive commitment, and communicating the policies for successful program adoption.

Because of the complexity and cost of the program, attendance was limited. Upon successful completion of the online test, participants will earn an Information Governance Practitioner Certification.

This was the first Information Governance program offered by WIS and based on participants’ input, we will be offering it in other geographical areas to serve more of our clients.  

If you are interested in more information on the Information Governance Practitioner Certifications, please contact Cheryl Young at (714) 997-3700 ext 31 or email Cheryl.young@westint.com.

Dan Rogers - New Sacramento Metro Chamber Ambassador

Marketing Team - Friday, August 08, 2014

Western Integrated Systems is proud to announce that the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce has selected Dan Rogers as their newest Ambassador.   Dan is our Government Account Executive based in our Sacramento Office.

As a Metro Chamber Ambassador, Dan plays a vital role in member retention, recruitment and communication. Each Ambassador makes a commitment to ensure that member needs, questions and concerns are heard and addressed by the Sacramento Metro Chamber. The efforts of the Ambassadors such as Dan keep the Metro Chamber in alignment with the desires of the membership of the organization.

Being an Ambassador provides Dan additional visibility and networking opportunities, as well as professional and community recognition through active volunteering and direct relationship building with members and the Metro Chamber staff.   

Dan has been an active Ambassador of the Chamber since he joined the Metro Chamber earlier this year. Dan is extremely valued for his enthusiasm and for his innate ability to champion both the Chamber and business contacts he meets.

For more information, Dan can be reached at dan.rogers@westint.com / 415 989 1777x15.



Real Issues When Using Spreadsheets for Business Analytics

Marketing Team - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

If you analyze data, chances are you use spreadsheets in some capacity in your organization. Spreadsheets are easy to use for simple data analysis and calculations, and they allow you to visualize tabular data via charts and graphs.

However, spreadsheets have limitations that many business people are not fully cognizant of.  Relying on them for sophisticated data analysis and business decision-support can be inefficient.

Even small spreadsheets can contain thousands of links, formulas, and cell references, creating many of opportunities for error. Even in simple spreadsheet calculations, a cell reference that is off by even one row or column returns different results than what you expected.

Let's take a look at some common pitfalls when using spreadsheets for business analytics. We’ll also look at how business intelligence (BI) is a more reliable method for business decision support.

Erroneous Calculations

Spreadsheets are inherently risky because they typically are updated manually, and error-checking is extremely challenging.  A calculation can easily become broken in the course of adding or updating data. An error in one cell can snowball throughout your data. Don’t believe spreadsheet errors represent a significant risk? They are blamed for:

- A $6 billion derivatives trading loss at JPMorgan Chase. Investigators found that the model that underpinned the hedging strategy operated through a series of manually completed spreadsheets that should have been automated but never were.

No business can afford to base important business decisions upon something that can contain mistakes.

Increased Security Risk

Spreadsheets are frequently distributed via e-mail. Unfortunately, both spreadsheets and e-mail suffer from weak access-control capabilities, so you could easily expose unsecure data to both employees and non-employees. Did your spreadsheet with the comp plans for your sales team just get forwarded to your competition? Even password-protected spreadsheets can easily be compromised by free or inexpensive third-party tools (just Google “how to crack a spreadsheet password”).

Another security hazard is that with spreadsheets, anyone can change the data.  Also, there is no built-in audit trail. If someone edits a formula or data, there’s no recording of who made the edit and why. There is also no archive or roll-back capability.

Spreadsheets Simply Cannot Handle Large Data Sets

As they grow in size, spreadsheets become slow and unwieldy, resulting in lost productivity as users wait for queries to complete. Links and formulas commonly break, and ensuring formula validity becomes more and more problematic, if not impossible. Spreadsheets are designed to handle data across two dimensions; analyzing more than this involves creating pivot tables or manually creating views of additional dimensions, which is fragile, time consuming and error-prone.

In addition, reports that must be updated daily (or more frequently) present significant problems when maintained as spreadsheets. Users must manually manipulate them to append the latest data and delete or archive the oldest data. Formulas must then be copied and validated to transform the raw data columns into the final data elements that are displayed in the report.

Spreadsheets are not Intuitive for Your Average Business User

Most business users can use functions such as “sort” and “sum,” but find it difficult to create a moderately complex formula. For more advanced analysis, business users must often lean on the “power users” within their organization to get the job done, which wastes time for everyone.

It’s also complex to update data. Users must manually recreate transformations and debug any calculations each time the data is refreshed. Merging data from different sources is difficult, time-consuming and filled with the potential for errors.

Business intelligence as a solution

While spreadsheets are useful for simple ad hoc calculations, when they are used for purposes more appropriately addressed with a BI tool, they can expose your company to reputational and financial risk, lost productivity and significantly slower time-to-insight as information workers struggle with the limitations of spreadsheet-based reporting and analysis.

Greg Taylor

Technical Operations Manager





Al Ramsay - New Docent at Burke Museum

Marketing Team - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Al Ramsay, Market Operations Manager for Western Integrated Systems, was recently selected as a Docent by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle WA. This continues the long legacy and track record of public service and community support embraced by Western Integrated Systems as one of our key cultural and business drivers.

The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is located on the campus of the University of Washington and is Washington State’s oldest museum and was founded in 1885. Al will specifically focus on scout education programs and merit badge activities, including geology, life sciences, anthropology, archeology, and other program areas which relate to scout advancement.

According to Cassandra Sandkam, Docent Manager at the Burke Museum, "Al was selected to be an on-going Docent at the University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, due to his commitment level to the scouting organization and their merit badge training programs and because of his other Docent work with the Woodland Park Zoo, Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, and The Museum of Flight. Al will make an excellent addition to the Docent team because of his passion for education, youth development, and community service, so we welcome Al as a permanent Docent to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture".

All partners, customers, and prospects are encouraged to contact Al Ramsay for a tour of the Burke Museum and a review of the artifacts contained at the facility in Seattle.  

Al Ramsay
Market Operations Manager
al.ramsay@westint.com
425 681 4689 

See: http://www.burkemuseum.org/

Automated Forms Recognition - Observe, Adapt, Overcome

Marketing Team - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A major Northern California County engaged Western Integrated Systems to streamline the flow of client applications and supporting documents and reduce cycle times for paper documentation. Our investigation revealed that the county employees were struggling with the complexity of managing over 1600 different types of documents in multiple languages. Inefficient mail handling procedures had also proliferated, due to the cost and difficulty of making changes to the old data capture process. The result was a slow and painful data capture process that became less relevant every year.

External forces were also at work. The County staff were also facing unpredictable work volume increases resulting from Healthcare Reform changes and a reoccurring seasonal influx of migrant farm workers. The County needed a data capture system that was not merely accurate, but easily adaptable.

The County chose to update their old data capture process to replace Separator Sheet based, manual document classification with a solution utilizing Kofax Transformation Modules (KTM). They would use KTM to auto-recognize the form types and make the determination automatically of each specific form within a batch of case documents and index them accordingly, without the need to buy pre-printed separator sheets and without the need for manual intervention.

To do this using typical imaging software would be a mammoth task and the resulting process would be out-of-date before it was even deployed. It would have been built on classic deterministic, logic-based software and making any changes would be costly and difficult to both develop and test. Luckily, learning software like KTM produces probabilistic results using training data. KTM adapts based on experiences to enable effective responses to changes which cannot be predicted and planned for. It is very much like the way the human brain adapts to change.

Because Probabilistic Learning Software is changed via training, no big project effort is needed to update it. When new forms arrive, KTM learns to recognize them in the future. Admins simply define how the system is to respond when it sees a document type again. As new "lessons" are added, the system gets more and more accurate. Internal document experts provide the raw material that makes KTM's automatic classification system perform better and better over time. In doing so, they pass on their capability to identify key process documents to KTM. KTM then automates. That raw material consists of good representative samples of documents that are not being auto-classified correctly.

As the number of document types increases in many business processes, it can quickly become impossible for workers to keep up with the changes. However, the County’s new KTM can easily manage a vast number of rapidly changing document types in an assortment of languages. Like most learning environments, the County’s EBSD classification system depends on observations, leading to feedback and testing... that drives decisions which result in action. This is critical because rules don’t learn… and logic doesn’t adapt easily to change.

Thomas Jones

Senior Technical Engineer

Western Integrated Systems

 

 

Confessions of a Road Warrior II / Happy Landings

Marketing Team - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It was a cool, moonless night in the middle of Fall and I was scheduled to depart from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei Taiwan and make the short 1 hour+ hope/flight from Taipei to Hong Kong.  Not a problem I thought – easy jump and a good way to end up the week, after a long travel week to Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, working with and training clients on the finer nuances of ECM technologies, and now back home to the security of one’s own bed, home cooking, wife, kid, and amah (housekeeper), plus a visit to friends over the weekend.

I boarded the Cathay Pacific 747-400, the biggest plane in the sky at the time and settled in next to two Australians.    Before I left, I noted on the TV screens in the terminal that a typhoon was advancing on Taiwan and Southern China, but really didn’t think much about it, because we seemed well outside of harm’s way, and not even particularly sure what risk a typhoon presented, I settled into my seat for the short 1hr+ flight to Hong Kong.

About half way through the flight, I woke up and I noticed that the plane was really rocking.   It would then pitch up and then pitch down.  Yaw, twisting motion side to side. Control problems!    What the heck is going on?   I looked out the window and I noticed the biggest meanest darkest clouds around us at 30K+ feet and I thought, oh oh, this cannot be good.    Lights flickered in the cabin and then people started to gasp and shriek with each sudden, violent jerk of the plane.

This can’t  be, I said to myself – this 747-400 is the biggest commercial plane in the sky and it’s getting swatted around like it’s a bug, given the awesome power of the elements outside us, the winds, the updrafts, and turbulence.   In these circumstances, I noticed that cabins get very still and quiet, ie. conversation ceases and the assumption that we’re going to survive is no longer taken for granted.   People contemplate their mortality and their trust/faith and reliance in air travel.  

We forged on to Hong Kong.   Now landing in Hong Kong in the 1990’s, before the opening of the new airport, entailed coming in from the south, advancing across the Hong Kong Harbor, then taking a radical right hand turn before the impacting the hills of Kowloon, and then descending base to final from the West to East, just over the apartment buildings of southern Kowloon, where the population density is roughly 75,000 people per square mile and the apartment buildings present a pretty decent challenge to any flight crew.   There was a single landing strip at the old Kai Tak airport, for take offs and landings, which of course simplified the choices for incoming and departing pilots.

Just before landing, more turbulence, more buffeting and the lights of the apartments are looking dangerously close, that I could almost reach out and touch.    This is a wild landing I thought!    At that moment, the pilot aborted the landing, pulled up the nose, and the biggest commercial plane in the sky was returning to the airspace over the South China Sea, to sort out what to do next.

You could cut the tension in the cabin with a knife.   It dawned on everyone that we in fact were riding on air and tonight the air was not cooperating, nor did it ever really have to.  From my flight experience, I knew that the pilot was making a decision to do a go-around or to divert to another airport such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, where more than likely the conditions would be the same, and fuel management could then become a challenge.

I felt the pilot make a 180 degree turn back to Hong Kong and I thought, OK here we go, he’s going back in for a second try from the opposite direction and he is going to land ‘hot’.   Sure enough we were descending at a rapid rate of speed and thrust and sink rate, somewhat like a fighter onto an aircraft carrier, and he was using speed to create extra lift and offset windshear and turbulence.   

Bang!   The wheels landed hard on the runway and I felt the Captain throw on maximum reverse thrust and apply full brakes as we hurtled down the runway, slowly decelerating.    We’re going to make it I thought as I was watching sheets of water cascading down the runway outside of the window.

The Captain came in on the intercom and thanked us for our patience (very British of you) and also indicated that this was the worst flying weather in his 20+ years of flying.   I said to one of my Australian seat mates, “Thank God for this aircraft, God, and that pilot”.     To which, in typical Aussie wry spirit, he said “Right Mate!   And not necessarily in that order.”  

There was unbelievable overall relief in the cabin and with our flight down, the authorities closed the airport.

The lesson learned here folks that every flight and everyday actually introduces risks and 1) every landing that you can walk away from is a good landing and 2) every new healthy day is a Gift from God and a new opportunity to help customers and business partners -- it should be appreciated as such.

More on the trials and trepidations of flying and some much needed levity in the next blog and your feedback is of course welcome.

 Al Ramsay / Marketing Manager / Western Integrated Systems

Asia Pacific Typhoons

 

 


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