When the unexpected happens, how do you switch over to a different distribution channel swiftly and smoothly without having to significantly reprogram the system? This was the central question for LVM insurance as they redesigned their output management system. Since 2009 the company group, among the insurance industry’s top 20 in Germany, has been using DocBridge Pilot, the platform-independent software solution that can generate customized mailings for every type of output: print, e-mail, fax, archive file, download file in Web portals, as well as the new social media channels, digital letters and virtual mail portals. The principle: The import of the documents to be processed is kept separate from the output of the mailings. The software developed by Compart copies the data and converts it while retaining the file format. At this stage, the document can be modified, distributed, classified, indexed, and converted into all the standard formats. This enables documents to be displayed, printed, archived or otherwise analyzed and processed in any way needed. The information for this process is extracted as metadata. While the software assigns the files to a central pool, the metadata is stored in a relational database.
Then there are the different functions for outputting the documents, such as sorting or “enhancing” pages with additional information for continued processing, including for enveloping. It is also possible to bundle multiple documents from different sources and in different formats and destined for the same recipient. Depending on the software configuration, this task can be done completely automatically or initiated at some definable point in time. The advantage: the software takes into account the allowable weight limit for a particular postal rate when it generates the mailings. Overall postal charges can be optimized in this way.
One Pilot for every need
At LVM, DocBridge Pilot controls the output (print) and further processing of documents independent of the application in which they were created. The process runs at night in batch mode. LVM sends out an average of 77,000 letters and documents every day, mostly in hard-copy form (approx. 90%). The insurer plans on increasing the percentage of digital documents. This is where one advantage of DocBridge Pilot is especially valuable: the solution can be easily extended for new delivery methods, such as sending out future correspondence in digital letter form. It is an option that is certainly conceivable for LVM, since the insurer basically makes use of all channels. Invoices, account statements and other transaction documents are already being sent to customers electronically. They can view and download their documents from a digital mailbox. If the mailbox is not emptied within 28 days, a workflow is triggered that automatically sends DocBridge Pilot any unread documents to send out in standard hardcopy form.
The introduction of Compart software was integrated in a fundamental restructuring at LVM. At its core was the separation from document creation from document delivery. Why? For over 20 years, the mailing of the document was always programmed in the application in which it was created. Numerous production networks were used to form mergeable stacks and execute separate formatting. Technical add-ons, such as for OMR code (optical mark recognition) or document reprints, were always included in the actual document application. All in all a rather complex affair.
Document creation now separate from dispatch
Today the tasks are clearly separate. Application development concentrates on implementing the technical requirements for document creation, whereas all of postprocessing – conversion, modification and output – is in the hands of the central output service. All input goes to DocBridge Pilot, which outputs all the documents through the appropriate channels specific to their destination and optimized for mailing costs. Instead of having to define how a document should be sent in every application, the programming is done centrally in the Compart tool. DocBridge Pilot is controlled via TLEs (tag logical elements). These are standalone AFP data records that contain only net data to control processing.
Both application development and the central output service are involved in implementing new requirements for document creation and output. Ingo Knein, IT project manager at LVM: “Relieving application development of programming tasks is a significant benefit in our new output landscape.” LVM is now able to bundle documents by address and save substantial mailing costs, according to Knein. Another criteria for choosing Compart was its support of features such as simplex/duplex, single-sheet/continuous form printing and the ability to control electronic and physical attachments (see box 2 for benefits).
Not without partners
The LVM insurance group converted initial areas over to DocBridge Pilot in 2009. The “Augsburger Aktienbank” was first out of the gate. The LVM subsidiary needed completely new bank software, which prompted LVM to direct output centrally through the service center. Up until then documents were sent through a separate print provider and letter shop. The migration was successfully completed in November 2010. Ute van Heek, Division Manager of RZ Production at LVM: “The project at the Augsburger Aktienbank showed us that the decision to use DocBridge Pilot and the output service close to production was the right one.”
Restructuring was underway at the LVM insurance group at the same time. No easy task, recalls John Vogt, system specialist for DocBridge Pilot. “Correctly configuring the printing, folding and enveloping machines is no trivial task. It takes expert know-how.” Know-how that Vogt and his colleagues first had to acquire. Numerous modifications were necessary, some workflows were completely redefined. “The Compart employees gave us great support. We observed them closely and then tried things out ourselves. It was intensive learning by doing.” Today he is extremely well versed in the new product. So everything went off without a hitch? Vogt admits that changing over to the current 2.11 version of DocBridge Pilot took more effort than originally planned. He and his employees were trained especially for the upgrade, but specific features within DocBridge Pilot still needed development. Overall, however, Vogt and his colleagues are satisfied with the conversion. “Day-to-day operations run smoothly with the new software; we need support from Compart only for very specialized enhancements.” LVM continues to benefit from Compart’s profound knowledge of data stream optimization, according to Vogt, and advises companies wishing to turn their document and output management into a business driver to bring an OM specialist on board (see box 3).
Augsburger Aktienbank Project
Requirements for account statement processing
- Bundled customer documentation (account statement, securities statement)
- Solution for “Sheet X from Y”
- Administrative copies with cover letter and copy notice
- PDF output with technical host information for the existing archive processes
- Preview PDFs for technical review in Augsburg
- Subsequent printing solution for electronic mailbox – PDF/A documents not opened and read by the customer within four weeks
- Short-term processing of up to 220,000 documents with up to 1 million pages at month and quarter end
- Duplex printing
- Legally compliant and permanent archiving in PDF/A
(End of Box 1)
DocBridge Pilot at LVM Insurance – A Summary
1. Document creation less complex in application development
- No “interpretation” of dispatch data
- No programmed form separation
- No creation of copies
- No programmed document bundling at customer level for dispatch
- No generation of blank pages for duplex printing
- No additional formatting for archiving (simplex vs. duplex)
2. Significantly fewer daily production batch jobs
3. Less complex application development:
- “Single-channel” creation/programming of documents: cover letter, insurance certification, payment medium and service card as multi-page document in future, form assignment occurs first in DocBridge Pilot via TLE
4. Increased performance in document creation
(End of Box 2)
OM Project Must-Haves
- Partner with comprehensive knowledge of typical workflows in output management needed for the introduction
- Develop detailed project design before implementing the software (together with partner) – product training alone does not suffice
- Support from the application developers (software) to develop the necessary workflows quickly and easily (“You need somebody who can think in the applications.”)
- Close collaboration between production (printing/finishing line, enveloping), IT and output management center
- Bundling of all OM processes at a central site
(End of Box 3)
About LVM Insurance
Over 3.2 billion customers with more than 10 million contracts rely on LVM Insurance. With 2.7 billion euros of premium income and capital assets of approx. 13.6 billion euros, the company is among the 20 top primary insurance groups in Germany. On-site customer service is provided by the 2,200 LVM advisors and their 4,200 colleagues in the LVM service offices throughout the country, supported by well over 3,000 employees at the company headquarters in Münster.
The insurance group has a complete range of policies for individuals and businesses. It also offers other insurance and financial services through the LVM-owned bank, the Augsburger Aktienbank AG, and the LVM cooperation partners hkk Erste Gesundheit, Aachener Bausparkasse and Federated Investors Inc.