Business Intelligence and the Importance of Information Governance

Marketing Team - Friday, June 19, 2015

As reported in a recent issue of the (May 2015)  Harvard Business Review, companies in the top third of their industry who use data-driven decision making are, on average, 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors.

In a broadcast by National Public Radio, a major West Coast University Medical Center discussed its discontinued use of data analytics for patient care decisions due to inconsistencies in the information sources.  Using faulty data had life and death consequences, so the Medical Center reverted back to round-table discussions of specific patients’ care.

A Melissa Data Whitepaper provided survey results that indicated it costs $1.00 to enter data correctly, $10 to fix the errors and $100 to do nothing (i.e.) lost opportunity). 

Clearly, there is a competitive advantage with authentic, reliable data in decision making.  The question: “How do I ensure that the data ARE authentic and reliable so that good decisions can be made?”

Information Governance.

What is your policy on records and information in your company?  I once had a client whose policy was “employees are to use common sense”.  It turned out to be a lengthy engagement!

Is there a Content or Records Management System in place to manage information or are employees using shared drives/directories to store documents? Another client had a shared drive for informed consent agreements.  A departing employee deleted it right before the next scheduled back up.

Do your employees understand how to save the documents and records they create or receive on behalf of the company so that someone else can retrieve them?    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen “12345678.pdf” and “Doc1.doc” in shared drives.  Full text search is not the answer.   

Are there controls in place for data entry so that everyone is entering information into your databases the same way, every time?  A national fast food chain spelled “Burrito” seven different ways in their marketing database used for trending analysis. 

How is the entered content of the data validated?  The USPS has an address lookup available by subscription. Use E-Verify for SSN. 

When was the last time you looked at and cleansed your data?  This is the first question I ask when entering into a business process improvement (whether automation transactional documents or providing business analytics capability to managers and supervisors) as it has the biggest impact on the length of the project and its eventual success.  

COLO - The Third ECM Alternative (Discussion)

Marketing Team - Thursday, March 26, 2015

One of the questions that I often run into when discussing the implementation of an Enterprise Content Management System is “What are our choices in deploying the solution?”

My response has been a) that you can deploy on in house servers, utilizing concurrent licensing, your own MS SQL Server License and your own firewalls, or b) use the solution via a secure hosted environment, provided by the software vendor. Both offer their own benefits.

Last week I visited CoreSite, a colocation provider with sites in Southern California, Northern California, New York and Virginia. While taking a tour of their 500,000 square foot facility, I realized that utilizing a “Colo” could serve as a third alternative for a content management deployment.

In this scenario, the customer would house their servers in the colocation, utilizing the existing communications bandwidth (you can buy rent as much as you want), their electricity, which is balanced and redundant, and their services to maintain the hardware, if you choose. One of the bigger advantages to this is that the facility has an uptime rating of 6 “9”s, meaning a virtually “never down” environment. What you are doing is renting a highly secure space for your systems.

This might be interesting for those organizations that do not have the space or the IT staff or know how to deploy and run the required secure infrastructure required for a content management system.   More specific information is available upon request.


Larry D. Cohn

Vice President, Sales and Marketing

HSMG, a Western Integrated Systems Company

438 E. Katella Avenue

Suite 230

Orange, CA 92867

Office (714) 997-3700

Mobile (714) 328-3844

Fax (714)  997-3930

System Health Check

Marketing Team - Wednesday, February 04, 2015

When was the last time you checked your business health?


When most organizations think of business health they think of P & L statements, payables and receivables.  However, in today’s competitive market, businesses face a widening array of challenges in order to stay healthy. These include increased demands on customer service and communication, escalating electronic transactions, internet dependence and global connectivity


Health Checks

With the projected growth of information over the next decade, an organization must constantly review its policies and the related processes to ensure that the appropriate procedures are in place to effectively manage client and company records both physical and electronic information to reduce the risks associated with mismanagement. That is why Western Integrated Sysems developed its Health Check for its clients.

A WIS Health Check provides a high level outline for your company’s evolution from current processes to more efficient ones.  The purpose of a business process health check is to identify your company’s objectives and align specific focus areas for review, benchmarking and recommendations for further development. 

A Health Check includes the due diligence and steps necessary to provide the company with a detailed description of industry best practices and benchmarking, areas for opportunity and gaps in its current state as they relate to the company’s processes.  The deliverables include identification of risks and gaps, recommendations regarding governance, process, technology, people and compliance with specific recommendations for technology enhancements, procedural changes, communication and training, staffing and maintenance of the program.

To schedule a Health Check contact Western Integrated Systems at 866-736-2191 and select your region. 



AP Automation Success Factor #1: Can You Rely on your Structured Data?

Marketing Team - Monday, December 29, 2014

The tenets of records management are to provide a reliable, authentic record with auditable integrity which are critical in an AP Automation initiative.  In the past few years, I have been involved in a number of AP Automation projects where the underlying assumption that the data in line of business applications, such as Oracle and SAP, were accurate and complete.  This assumption proved to be costly, in terms of both time and money, as projects were delayed and additional resources required to identify and remove true duplicates, or, rename non-duplicated information, and then, to standardize naming conventions so that the project could move forward, often after the original go-live date. 

There are so many adages that apply – “pay me now or pay me later”, “garbage in/garbage out”, it’s almost funny (almost).  If you have lived through a project where an underlying assumption proved false, you understand the pain.  In many cases, the test environment uses a database of made-up data, so as to not compromise security requirements.  In any project, though, live data is used in the production environment.  My experience has been that production data needs to be thoroughly examined, and tested, before the go-live date in order to celebrate a successful implementation. 

What should you do?

1. Know Your Environment

    a. Databases and configured limitations

    b. Technology resources

    c. Communication resources

    d. Current metrics and SLA’s

2. Select a Service Provider

    a. Companies specialize in this field, you do not – find one that fits your company culture

3. Get Organized

    a. Identify the proponents

    b. Identify the opponents

4. Plan the Communication with Stakeholders

    a. Procurement

    b. Vendors

    c. Approvers

    d. End users

5. Execute the Technical Project

    a. Allow at least 3 months to develop and test

    b. Look at the SLA and metric reporting

6. Train and educate

    a. Training = How

    b. Education = Why

7. Evaluate the good, the bad and the ugly

8. Keep an eye out for further improvements

Something to think about:  Involve a records management professional.  We’re trained to create classification plans that make business sense, understand the implications of abbreviations and acronyms, and know that a record will lose its value over time and will need to be discarded. 

Dealing with the here and now, in migration or business process automation projects, we also understand the importance of cleaning and purging information during the development stages, prior to testing, so that the testing is a reflection of the usefulness of the application and not the integrity of the data. 

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

Western Integrated Systems

Southern California Office

Direct:   (714) 997-3700 ext 31

Mobile:  (626) 824-1628


Invitation to Trusted Systems Webinar - Wednesday December 17, 2014 (11am - 12noon PST)

Marketing Team - Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Western Integrated Systems cordially invites all current customers and prospects to our

upcoming webinar which will cover Trusted Systems and The Impact on Current Business Processes.  The webinar will take place on Wednesday December 17th at 11am - noon (PST) and will cover the design, planning, and implementation of Trusted Systems in the workplace.

The Trusted Systems Framework is the defining standard in information and records management for government sectors, with impact in both public and commercial sector operations.   In our webinar, we will cover the components of the Trusted Systems Framework as defined in the AIIM/ANSI Standard 25-2012.   We will cover all facets of the Trusted Systems Framework and specifically explore topics including:

  1. Governance – the rules

  2. Technology – the tools

  3. Process – how to use the tools according to the rules

  4. People – trained on not only the how but the why

  5. Compliance – saying it, doing it, proving it


The registration link is below.   Please feel free to register and attend this informative event if this is convenient.   All Western Integrated Systems clients and prospects are welcomed and encouraged to attend.


Registration Link:

Is Returned Mail a Record?

Marketing Team - Thursday, November 20, 2014

‘UAA’ ‘Unknown address’ ‘return to sender’ ‘no forwarding address.’ 

What is your company doing with your returned mail?  Is it stacking up behind the receptionist’s desk?  Piled in an unused office?  Thrown out?  Are you paying postage for correspondence that you know is going to bounce back, month after month?  Do you have a standard procedure for returned mail?

If you don’t manage your returned mail, you will continue wasting money on paper, postage and return postage.  And, with any document that isn’t actively managed, it will either be stored “just in case” or thrown away because chances are there isn’t an established policy.  When you are audited on your client outreach, you must provide this evidence to the auditor, or, the proof of destruction based on a records retention schedule.  Failure to show a consistent, standard business practice can result in penalties.

If you are in the financial or healthcare industries, your returned mail is regulatory evidence of your attempt to reach a customer or member. This mail is considered a business record, similar to the green receipt from certified mail. 

Mail becomes critically important in contentious situations, such as when a policy lapses.  Returned mail also provides an opportunity to improve your CRM database.  In this case CRM is Critical Records Management as well as Customer Relations Management! 

Technologies exist that can capture the information that is on the returned envelope with minimal labor.  Extracted data is used to update your customer databases, reducing the returned mail in the next batch.  Updates include editing of the information, such as correcting a misspelling, adding a zip code, archiving or deleting it.  A large healthcare insurance company reduced its returned mail from 86,000 pieces per month to less than 5,000 simply by extracting the data and updating its database. 

Even businesses that aren’t regulated on customer outreach, managing returned mail significantly reduces their postal costs, especially if they handle a significant amount of large documents with high postage costs.   The median cost to scan and extract the address and postal information from an envelope is $0.46. With a Return on Investment of 12 to 14 months, it’s worth investigating the process. Contact Western Integrated Systems for a review of mailroom procedures and learn about solutions that can help you save money.

Connect Tech Day 11/18

Marketing Team - Thursday, November 13, 2014

Or Contact Sallylyn Hill 480-603-0538 ext. 26;

White Paper - Trusted Systems

Marketing Team - Tuesday, October 21, 2014


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


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.


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.   


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. 


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. 


 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





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





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


Source: Strait & Associates, LLC (2011).  Why Should Insurance Companies be Concerned with Records Management   <>

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