Version chaos results in business risks

Do you have any idea how many document templates your company has? And are you sure that all communications sent out include the most recent text and terms and conditions? Many companies fully understand the need for a robust, effective document management system, but the role of document composition is not as self-evident. With document composition, however, you can easily answer “yes” to the questions above. This software not only strengthens the communications strategy, but also creates insight into version management and prevents unnecessary business risks.

Version chaos

When we talk with a company, we often notice that they are missing an overview of the templates for outgoing communications. Where a company may think that they are using around 50 templates, there are, in fact, some 200 templates, in various versions, hanging around in all sorts of folders. Even between the ten most commonly used templates, there are usually numerous differences in the corporate style. These differences often arise as the result of changes to the guidelines or terms of contract. And if these changes are implemented in some but not all the dozens of templates, there’s a good chance that one of the employees will end up using an outdated version.

Central template management offers a lot of possibilities, and it also gets the company thinking: Why do we have so many templates to start with? One way this might occur is, because the tools require so much IT expertise, employees simply make a copy of the template and make changes to the text here and there right in the code. Another possibility is that there simply isn’t a set of tools, but rather countless Word templates that are created, copied and edited.

Business risks

Consider things like customer complaints, and perhaps even a claim. Even for the most “innocent” action, having various versions poses risks. For example, when an employee copies and pastes a paragraph from an existing template, he or she assumes that this is the most recent version of this paragraph. What happens if this isn’t the case and the paragraph includes outdated product information? Does this then entitle the customer to whatever is stated?

In the area of laws and regulations, too, lack of insight into version management can create problems. If not all templates are compliant with current laws and regulations, this can have financial consequences.

Win-win situation

Good document composition tools help prevent errors and claims, and reduce the time and money spent on claim management, all to the profit of your organisation. Hyarchis Document Composition (HDC) is intuitive in use, partly because the designer interface through which the templates are maintained is based on Microsoft Office Word. Working with a user-friendly template management tool saves employees lots of valuable time. Whereas, with outdated and/or complicated document composition systems, the user can sometimes spend entire days editing a document, this can be done in HDC within an hour, and with no programming expertise needed.

Hyarchis Document Composition

With Hyarchis Document Composition, you can be sure that your outgoing communications to citizens, your clients, customers or business partners are efficient, effective and compliant. When the relevant business process is complete, the system in which you are working sends a signal to HDC and the right document, in the latest version, is generated. The preconfigured corporate style is automatically integrated with the content. The result is a high level of automation when it comes to processing requests for quotes, handling complaints, producing complex policies, drafting legal opinions and handling claims. And it also means a short time-to-market. Would you like to learn more about HDC? You can read about all the ins and outs in this product passport.

Benny van den Heuvel, Product Manager, Hyarchis Document Composition

Applied artificial intelligence: classification and error correction

In their work processes, our customers always need to be able to record documents from external sources in the document management system (DMS). The documents also need to be classified and indexed, which is a manual operation in most processes, and a manual operation means expensive. Given that a manual operation is also prone to errors, the demand for automating this is high.

In 2005, Hyarchis started testing software for automatic document classification, with an external system at that time. A drawback of this software was that it could not handle the wide variety of documents, meaning you quickly encountered certain limitations. Over the years, Hyarchis has tried out various systems and applied some of these to particular areas. Each of these systems has its advantages and disadvantages.

With the knowledge it had acquired of the various packages and, especially, having seen what doesn’t work, Hyarchis started a Proof of Concept (PoC) for document classification and data mining of key information in the mortgage process. A prerequisite for this PoC was the ability to distinguish between a deed for a closed-end mortgage (vaste hypotheek) and an open-end mortgage (bankhypotheek). The difference between these two forms of deeds is very small and can only be distinguished using very sophisticated logic.

For this PoC, Hyarchis developed its own technology and logic, which it devised by putting 3 million documents (for a total of 13 million pages) through various systems. After determining the type of mortgage, the system searches for the effective date of the deed and the associated contract number and checks this data against known values in the external customer systems. With the enhanced logic of this “cross-system consistency check”, we were able to guarantee the reliability of information found.

Where can this process be used?

In this PoC, we have used this process to enrich existing data. The system could, however, also be used to verify data that has previously been gathered, in which case it could be used for correcting classification and indexing errors.

The larger the volume of documents the system can analyse, the more the system learns, and with this enhanced logic the better it can automatically process the document flow. Using people to look through 13 million pages would be a Herculean task. What’s more, people are more prone to make mistakes that an automatic system simply would not.

What are the advantages of this system for the customer?

Two major advantages associated with this process are the reduction in costs and the time savings. And to save even more time, multiple processes can be run in parallel. Besides the applications mentioned above for this PoC, there are many more possibilities. Anything related to classification, data extraction, look up, verification and making connections using the underlying logic can be carried out automatically.

Can this also be carried out using the DMS full-text search option?

No. Searching for text is just one part of the process. This concerns a system into which enhanced logic and additional process steps have been built. The results of the PoC have been so successful that we have decided to further develop the tools for use in a new module for the Hyarchis DMS solution. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to discuss these with you.

I love you!

Do you remember? It was sometime in May 2000 (to be honest, I had to look up the date). You were sitting at your CRT monitor. It seemed like just a normal day at the office until, all at once, an email appeared: ILOVEYOU. Your heart began to beat faster, and it even seemed like the sun was suddenly shining more brightly. Once you got over the initial surprise, you took a look at the sender: it was from a colleague. The (happily?) married colleague who always laughs at your jokes. Was this the real reason? Or perhaps the email wasn’t intended for you at all. Perhaps it was meant for another colleague and you had a front-row seat to an office romance that was unfolding before you. Your thoughts were all over the place, all the more because of the attachment included with the email: “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs”.

You glanced over your shoulder to make sure no one was looking and… you opened the attachment. But then, nothing. Surprised and perhaps a bit disappointed too, you continue to stare at your screen, until the colleague opposite you asks, “Why have you sent me an email with the subject line ‘ILOVEYOU?’” Then it dawned on you: just like millions of other people, you were the victim of the ILOVEYOU virus, the Love Bug that eventually caused 5.5 billion dollars of damage around the globe.

No other cyberattack had been so effective or resulted in so much media attention. It remained relatively quiet in the subsequent years; there were, of course, cyberattacks and viruses, but none as infamous as the ILOVEYOU virus. In more recent years, however, this has clearly been changing. First, there was the “heartbleed” security bug that was disclosed in 2014. This wasn’t a virus, but it was a serious vulnerability that exposed many systems to a potential attack. The attention that this bug received in the media and elsewhere should have been an eye-opener and a motivation to start taking system security seriously by phasing out or updating old software in good time, and making sure the systems are effectively protected.

That not everyone heeded this advice became evident earlier this year when the WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm had them in its grip. On social media, photos of locked screens with a message demanding a ransom began circulating. And these were not just photos of PC and laptop screens either: even car parks appeared to have become ransom victims too.

After the world had barely recovered from the previous attack, the latest hostage taker appeared yesterday, unnamed so far. This time, an entire commercial port terminal has been crippled thanks to the attack. These attacks show us just how much we are living in an internet world and how dependent we are on online technology—as well as how vulnerable we are when this technology turns against us.

Given this, the first computer virus you encountered could not have had a better name: I love you. It was the start of your relationship with computer security, where you learned never to take the security of your system for granted. This relationship demands a lot of attention and regular updates to keep it going. If you forget this, the relationship will be done for, and your ex-lover will walk away with all your files. Only the backups from better times will remain…

Erwin van den Broek is a product manager at Hyarchis. If you would like to find out how a DMS can protect your files from a ransomware attack, contact us. We’d love to tell you more.

With a DMS there’s no need to worry about compliance

On 1 January 2016, the new Dutch law on the protection of personal data came into effect. In addition to stating that all data leaks must be reported, this law specifies the retention period for confidential documents. A business that does not comply with the new legal provisions risks being fined up to €810,000 per incident. What’s more, this law is due to be replaced when, on 25 May 2018, businesses in the Netherlands will have to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the aim of which is to offer a uniform level of data protection throughout the European Union. The GDPR places even more responsibility with the data processor: your company must be able to demonstrate that it is acting in compliance with the law. Document management is the solution. With a document management system (DMS), because retention periods and permissions can be configured automatically, you won’t need to worry about compliance any more. In this blog, I’ll be talking about the challenges posed by the new legislation and the advantages of document management.

Maze of retention rules

In the Netherlands, retention periods are set for practically all confidential documents. Documents that you need to keep for tax purposes must be saved for 7 years, but this does not apply to all documents. For companies, it can all quickly become a maze of rules and exceptions. Take healthcare institutions’ documents for example: these must be retained for a certain number of years after the death of the patient concerned, meaning that the end of the retention period only becomes known at the time of death. In addition to the statutory minimum retention period, there is also a maximum retention period, after which the documents must immediately be destroyed. An example is the job application letter from an unsuccessful candidate: this may not be retained for longer than 4 weeks. It’s understandable then that, for many companies, managing documents is a serious challenge.

Saving and retrieving

The solution is the implementation of an effective document management system (DMS). With a good DMS, a specific retention period can be configured for all the different types of documents. And a good DMS will handle the visibility of documents effectively too. Many of the documents your company is required to save are no longer relevant for your business process; by having the DMS automatically “hide” or archive these, you can be sure they are retained but they won’t get in your way. A DMS also saves you money: instead of keeping documents in the current-document filing system (which is often expensive space), they are moved to a less expensive archive.

And, speaking of archives, there’s another consideration. If certain information buried deep in the archives needs to be retrieved, for example when information about a certain person or organisation is needed for use in a court case, this operation can cost a considerable sum. With the implementation of a DMS with advanced search functionality, however, the search for particular documents (or even text within documents) is an easy task that takes up much less time.

Flock of birds

In our experience, our customers find the data protection laws and regulations complex. We also see a trend towards businesses placing high value on certification like ISO, certification that sets requirements for processing personal data in documents, for example. With all laws and regulations “configured” in a DMS, a company no longer has to worry about this. Not only does this save time and money: it clears the way for certification and innovation too. That’s not just two, but a small flock of birds with one stone.

Would you also like to be able to stop worrying about compliance and minimum and maximum retention periods? We can help you devise the best possible DMS set-up at your company. Simply fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you promptly. Or you can call us directly on +31 (0) 88 007 8508.

Contact

Your clients want digital

Legal clients want to do more themselves. Are you ready to collaborate online?

Your clients are becoming increasingly outspoken; they feel at home in today’s digital world, and they expect the same from you too. They know that working digitally can boost efficiency, even in your primary work processes. They also want to be more closely involved, to feel more connected to the case, to have more insight and to be able to interact. How can online collaboration help in all this?

Once there was a mission

My name is Bas and I have spent the last 20 years creating web-based solutions. Since the early days of the online collaboration era, I have also been busy streamlining and automating work processes. I am adept at taking in-depth knowledge of technology and applying it to the question, “What can you actually do with it?” I have a clear view on digital working in the business services sector and, in particular, on the benefits of online case management. My current mission is to bring my online collaboration solutions to the attention of legal professionals as well.

Focus on the case

There’s no question that your clients want to be more closely involved in their cases than is feasible in practice. As a lawyer, you are the support and ally for a client who needs help. There’s a lot at stake, and your client depends totally on your help and shudders each day at the thought of the bill that will inevitably come. By working digitally, your client can be more closely involved. How, you may ask? It’s a simple matter to be able to offer more transparency, give the full picture and, in your talks with your client, be able to focus on what matters: the case itself. You can take a structured approach: your client helps you with the systematic delivery of documents, you and your client can both access the case material at any time, and you can be sure that you are both seeing the same version of the document.

Ramp up engagement

Fee earners work long and hard. Although the clients pay a good portion of the costs, there’s still a considerable sum that is not charged on or compensated. Legal professionals are often so busy concentrating on the case that they only get around to noting the hours at the end of the day, by which time they may forget to include the time for certain activities, or they can no longer describe these exactly, with the result that they cannot charge on the related fees. Or they may have spent so much time on a case that they, in certain cases, cannot charge the client for all the costs. Fortunately, a lot of these case-related activities can be handled by the client personally. Activities like collecting and updating information, delivering administrative documents and requesting invoices can all be handled by the client. And other standard activities, like compiling correspondence for example, can be handled faster through automation.

In other words, the client can take over many of the case-related activities, which has the added advantage that your client can become more engaged in the case, and you can liaise more closely with your client. Another benefit is that you can meet the demands of millennials, who view speed and interaction as the marks of a quality experience. So in essence, your law office “contracts out” the work, while you and your client help each other. With this approach, your client shares responsibility for keeping costs low, the entire process can be accelerated, and you keep the costs from getting so out of hand that you have no choice but to leave certain items off the bill. In general, clients have no idea just how hard you work; you work so hard that this leaves little time over for communication, and yet clients do not really appreciate everything you do for them. By working together online, the client gets a better idea of how hard you work and, in turn, values your efforts more. And, perhaps best of all, the bill will be more readily accepted without discussion.

Survival of the fittest in the Randstad-conurbation mortgage market

In Utrecht, house prices recently climbed back to their 2008 pre-crisis peak, and that was already the case in Amsterdam in January. These are exciting signs in these two cities; home buyers are even being advised to take up some of their annual leave when looking for a home. It’s clear as day: the housing market, and therefore also the mortgage market, is heating up faster than a BBQ on a hot summer afternoon, certainly in the popular Randstad conurbation. So it’s in this region especially that the collaboration between the mortgage lender and the consumer really needs a boost,

by which I mean the collaboration needs to be better and faster. After all, consumers have no time to waste when making this decision, a decision about one of the most important and costly purchases of their lives. When you think about it, it would be better if they could already have the mortgage papers in hand before they step over the threshold. One of the ways to improve and speed up collaboration between the mortgage lender and the consumer is to handle this all online.

Digital kitchen table

I often compare collaborating online to people sitting around a kitchen table. All the stakeholders, from intermediary to mortgage lender to consumer, are sitting around the same—digital—kitchen table working on the same project. They’re all together, meaning no delays, no working in isolation, everything more transparent and the whole process moving much faster. No copy of the passport yet? Not a problem. The credit appraiser is already busy checking the home buyer’s creditworthiness while waiting for that to arrive. The biggest advantage for consumers is that, with online collaboration, they know how far along their mortgage application is and what they can do to speed up the process. Nothing spectacular really: consumers are already totally comfortable with this approach—when ordering something online from Zalando for example.

But for the mortgage lender, too, there are advantages to this way of working. First and foremost, there’s the time savings, followed by cost savings as a close second. Our research has shown that online collaboration with customers is important if you want to stay ahead of your competitors. And the professionals are feeling the heat: more than half agree with the statement that the pressure to collaborate online has increased as a result of the growing demand for financial products.

It’s good to see professionals on the mortgage market taking a proactive approach to online collaboration. And yet, the indication that they will be doing this “within five years” makes me worry a little: consumers who want to buy a home in Utrecht or Amsterdam today or tomorrow need to have that fast and efficient process in place right now, not in a few years’ time. By then the coals on the BBQ will have turned to ash. This is no time to sit back comfortably on the lounger: it’s time to get cooking. This is the time to show the consumer the added value you as a mortgage lender have to offer.

Pension is still “something to worry about later”

That was the gist of the headline published by Dutch media outlet NOS in an article about the Pensioen3daagse pension awareness event held across the Netherlands. It’s hardly surprising that pension awareness is something that needs to be worked on. It used to be much easier “in the old days”. You worked more than 30 years for one and the same company, you accrued pension entitlements under a final salary scheme or, at worst, an average salary scheme, and the state pension was not being undermined. If you owned your home, the mortgage had been paid off and your equity was high. Divorce did happen, but then, as breadwinner, the ex-husband would still be the source of income for the ex-wife, even when it came to pensions. In short, the world was easy to understand, and people were not faced with many choices. They didn’t have to decide whether to be insured under national healthcare or private, whether to stick with the traditional power company or switch to one of the new ones, nor did they need to worry whether to have a company other than PTT provide their telephone service. Not PTT? That would be practically unimaginable in those days. And then there’s the retail sector. As a retailer, the worst that could happen to you 20 years ago would be that a rival set up shop on the same street and you had to fight to keep your customers. Who would have thought then that 20 years on we would all be ordering each item one by one every day, having them packed and delivered to our doorstep?

Pensions now—in 2016

What I mean to say with all of this is that the idea that pensions, too, are becoming something that we as citizens, consumers or individuals can (or rather, must) do something about, is a relatively new one. And making sure we, as individuals, can afford life as we grow older (older than ever before possible thanks to good healthcare) means that we all have to get used to thinking more about how we can have income to sustain us after our working days are well and truly done. I think the terminology will also change: the word pension is also outdated; in their radio ads, insurer Nationale-Nederlanden uses “income for later”, for example. Financial life planning—it doesn’t sound very attractive when you’re 25—but in time the millennials will find the right words and phrases. In any case, this new generation is tech-savvy to the core. They will search online for relevant information and, to gain the information they need, they will insist on connecting to their discussion partner (pension fund, insurer, financial intermediary) on their device whenever and wherever they like. In the coming years, online collaboration will make further inroads in the area of pensions too, just has it has done with our customers in the mortgage industry.

Support desk FAQ: Hyarchis DMS and certificates

Our support desk has recently been receiving lots of questions about the use of SSL certificates in Hyarchis DMS. Since Hyarchis DMS 2015 (v3), the use of SSL certificates has been mandatory; since patch 5, it must also be possible to validate these certificates. In this blog entry, I’ll explain why we insist on the use of SSL certificates and how you can provide your DMS with the right certificate.

How did it work previously?

Up to and including Hyarchis 2012r2 (v2.4.1), communication between the client and server used the .NET Remoting protocol, the standard method for enabling communication between services within the .NET Framework. This protocol is mainly intended for communication between services within an organisation, so in a trusted environment. As part of its .NET Framework 3.0, Microsoft introduced Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), the successor to .NET Remoting. With WCF, it was assumed that the client and server would not be located within the same trusted environment, meaning that trust between these two would have to be established in some other way. That’s when SSL certificates made their appearance.

SSL certificates

The SSL certificate authenticates, among other things, the identity of the server. When a client application connects to the Hyarchis server, the client will first request the certificate. In this certificate, the client expects to find an ID that matches the server name recorded in the client connection profile. So if the client initiates a connection with “DMSSERVER01”, this ID must appear in the certificate too. The certificate is the server’s proof of ID that shows the client that the server really is who it says it is and that the client is not connecting to another server “impersonating” the Hyarchis server (this is known as a “man-in-the-middle attack”). Matters become more complex when, for example, a load balancer is placed between client and server(s), in which case the ID of the load balancer will generally be recorded in the client connection profile. Given that the name in the connection profile must match the name in the server certificate, the Hyarchis servers must be provided with the certificate issued in the name of the load balancer.

Options

The server’s “proof of ID” must, however, be trustworthy, the same way that a Dutch passport, for example, is more likely to create trust about the identity of the passport holder than, say, a passport issued by Somalia (the most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International [2015]). This means that the certificate must be issued by a trusted party. There are several options open to you:

  1. Purchase a certificate from a public Certificate Authority (CA) like VeriSign, Comodo or GlobalSign, to name a few. Most businesses purchase their certificates from the same company and so there is a good chance that your system administrator already has an agreement with one of the above, making it easy to request a new certificate. Certificates issued by public CAs are trusted both inside and outside their own network domains. In most cases, the Hyarchis server is not connected directly to the Internet, so there is generally no need to have a certificate from a public CA.
  2. Request a certificate from a private CA. In general, large companies have their own “private” (in-house) certificate authority that can issue certificates that are trusted within the company’s own network domain, meaning they can only be used in this domain.
  3. Request a Hyarchis certificate. You can ask Hyarchis for a certificate for use on your server. Hyarchis certificates, which are signed with the Hyarchis private key and trusted by Hyarchis applications, can only be used for client-server connections between Hyarchis components.

I hope that this has helped clarify a few matters concerning the use of SSL certificates in combination with Hyarchis DMS. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We’d be happy to help.

Online collaboration with customers in the bustling mortgage market

It’s been a busy year for the mortgage industry. Mortgage interest rates dipped to the lowest level in 50 years, so it’s hardly surprising that the financial market has been marked by a high rate of new mortgages. Home buyers are taking the plunge and investing in the home of their dreams. And the interest rates could even drop further, which would mean that mortgage providers can look forward to a busy period in the second half of the year too. But how can the financial sector ensure that it’s ready for this new dynamic period and still offer its customers the best possible service? Serge Leclercq, Sales Director at Hyarchis, explains.

Cooperation with stakeholders

The answer is online collaboration. Banks and advisers can be fully customer-centric and provide good service by working together online with customers, the staff of partners, and their own employees. Just consider something like sharing and managing files on a collaboration platform: not only does this speed up the mortgage application process, the customer also becomes a part of the process. All authorised stakeholders gain easy access to documents and information and can make changes where they deem necessary. This boosts the process, generating considerable time savings. And that’s something the financial sector can really use in these turbulent times. From a survey carried out on behalf of Hyarchis among 500 professionals working in the banking, insurance, pension, mortgage and accountancy sectors, it emerged that even more gains can be made in the field of online collaboration.

Exciting figures

Presently, 37% of the financial institutions use online collaboration “often”, 33% use it “occasionally”, and 30% “seldom”. These figures show an improvement compared with 2014 when 12% of the participants stated that they never collaborate online. The percentage of participants collaborating online often was also significantly lower at 28%. So it is evident that online collaboration is making major strides forward and is becoming recognised by an ever-growing number of professionals in the financial sector. And there’s more good news: the mortgage professionals, in particular, are ahead of the curve. Serge Leclercq is aiming to see these percentages rise even higher in 2016 so that we can determine at the end of the year that at least half of all financial service providers are now in the “often” group for online collaboration with stakeholders. The question is: How can organisations actually make this step successfully?

Major overhaul

To be able to collaborate effectively with customers online, it’s not enough to just rev up the efficiency of the existing systems. For truly profitable collaboration, all systems need to be overhauled. So not only do you need to recondition the front end, the connection with the systems under the hood (the mid and back office) needs to be fully attuned to the online collaboration principle too. This is major tuning, but it will ensure that you are able to handle the oncoming flood of mortgage contracts while boosting customer satisfaction. A win-win scenario!

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