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Improving Document Flow at Mid-Continent

Mid-Continent can now scan 50,000 documents a day with Exigen's image capture product.

A decentralized imaging process that resulted in each department at Mid-Continent Group ($260 million in premium) handling its own scanning and indexing was aslaborious as it was inefficient. The backlog that resulted from the use of 15 antiquated single-side capture scanners and an IBM (Armonk, NY) WAF document routing system and was so severe that Saturdays had become mandatory work days.

By 2001, "Mid-Continent wanted to centralize the capture and indexing of documents into one department so that we could reduce staff," says Darlene Smrke, assistant vice president, electronic document services, Mid-Continent (Tulsa, OK). "Our goals were also to streamline functionality and empty our offsite storage facility to improve our current workflow." Smrke's ultimate objective was the formation of a centralized system that could provide capture, index and workflow functionality for documents received via e-mail, fax and through "snail mail." The final destination for documents processed through the system would be the carrier's existing IBM Content Manager that, at the time, housed five million documents.

Smrke decided she would first tackle the capture and indexing of components of mailed and faxed documents. Mid-Continent needed to find a tool that could capture images for every type of document and for all lines of business. Members of the evaluation committee, including Mid-Continent's commercial processing supervisor, junior application developer and senior application developer, commenced an extensive capture evaluation process in October 2001.

The evaluation team was looking for a tool that didn't require the use of in-house developers. Additionally, the group was in search of a system that could export visual information to Mid-Continent's IBM AS/400. Its eventual solution also needed to have bar code and OCR (optical character recognition) capabilities.

Providers that made the short-list cut included ActionPoint, Kofax and Exigen Group. After a final evaluation in February 2002, Exigen Group's Visiflow (the product's name has since been changed to Exigen Workflow) was chosen. Additionally, a Kodak 810 and 840 series scanner was purchased from MicroImages (Lincoln, NE).

The installation of Visiflow commenced immediately. Visiflow was installed on one of the carrier's existing servers that was previously used for Lotus Notes. At this time, an Exigen Group representative walked Mid-Continent's senior developer through the installation of the development platform and the first workflow build. Workflows for human resources reports, human resources employee files, state filings and agency accounting were designed and built at this time, according to Smrke. In March 2002, the scanners were installed.

No Backlog

Smrke concedes, "I am test crazy," and after each stage of development, testing that consisted of the scanning of real documents received via fax and mail took place. The documents were then flowed to the bar code server and on to indexing. Once a document reaches the indexing phase, it's assigned an index value so it can be stored and retrieved.

Since the completion of the system's implementation in April 2002, the biggest gain, according to Smrke, is the amount of time that has been cut from a process that was once plagued with backlogs. "We have not had the need to pull a Saturday workday since Visiflow," says Smrke. "Literally every day we leave with zero documents in our queue and that was our main goal and objective."

When Mid-Continent was dependent upon the old scanning and imaging system, 30-plus employees were able to scan 20,000 pages daily and there was always a backlog. Today, six people are able to scan 50,000 documents a day-with no backlogs.




Mid-Continent Group, Tulsa, OK, $260 million in premium assets.


Commercial P&C, personal auto, bond products.


Exigen Group (San Francisco) Visiflow (Workflow); IBM (Armonk, NY) Content Manager; MicroImages (Lincoln, NE) Kodak 810 and 840 scanner.


Consolidate company's existing imaging process.

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