‘Rubberbanding’- stretching data entry to maximum efficiency

‘Rubberbanding’- stretching data entry to maximum efficiency

Gerardi, Liz

payment processing


Is exception processing weighing down your operations? Probably, given the current trends in the payment industry. Ironically, even as customers turn to the convenience of online bill paying services, like CheckFree, Bank One, Wells Fargo and others, billers are inundated with more paper than ever before.

Not only is this increase in exception processing expensive and time-consuming, it also delays getting the money into the bank. A remittance coupon, which flies through the check processing system, costs a mere II cents to handle, while a 11 check-and-list” from the bill consolidator has to be keyed manually at a cost of $1.08 per line. One check can cover pages of individual payments and take hours to process. It’s no wonder that payment processors are eager for an automated solution, and the industry is responding accordingly.


The industry is fast approaching the time when exceptions are taken out of exception mail processing. Here’s how the latest advances work together to streamline payment processing:

First, a sophisticated mail opening and scanning function deployed on a desktop transport permits items of various sizes to be handled in a single workflow. This eliminates the need to separate check-sized items for one transport from larger items, such as correspondence and payment lists, for another. Not only does this save time, but it also keeps a check and its accompanying list of payers together, which eliminates the time wasted matching checks and lists and the many downstream errors that frequently result. Further, the check and list can appear together on the screen for review by the operator since the system knows which check goes with which list.

Next, pre-defined templates and ‘rubberbanding’ expedite the data capture process.

A system that supports pre-defined templates can read the scanned list, validate and populate into a data entry format. No operator intervention is required. The page is populated and validated in less time than it takes to read this paragraph.

Rubberbanding, the latest advance in ICR technology, comes into play when a list does not fit a pre-defined format. Rubberbanding lets an operator first click on a blank field in the form, and then use the computer mouse to draw a box around the data on the scanned page. The system can read the data within the box, validate it using ICR capabilities and apply business rules. Then, the data is populated into the designated column on the data entry format. -An entire column is usually handled at once, so a page of data is entered in two or three iterations-with no manual keying.

Finally, automatic reconciliation and virtual “ruler” capabilities ensure that the check and list are balanced quickly and accurately.

An automatic reconciliation function can compare the total of the line items with the total of the check. If the totals match, the operator is given the green light to post the transactions. If the totals do not match, the “ruler” feature is activated automatically to underline, in turn, each line item that scored less than 100% during validation and is suspect of error.

With the lowest-scoring line item presented first, the operator corrects errors first and brings the transaction into balance more quickly The ruler keeps the operator focused on the right line to aid in reconciliation with automatic prompts that alert the operator when the check is in balance.

This kind of data capture sophistication described above means a 100% accuracy- rate is within reach, hours of tedious manual entry and data correction are eliminated, and money is banked faster. The impact on the bottom line can be substantial. At least 50%, and possibly 75%, of the costs of exception processing can be cut. Add to that the efficiency the organization gains by having all transaction data in one database for review, routing, and response.

In short, today’s technology represents a major step forward. Documents that once were considered exceptions can now be handled as a normal part of a single workflow, which means quicker turnaround and more efficient handling of all payments.

By Liz Gerardi

Liz Gerardi is a marketing manager at J & B Software (www.tmsimage.com). She can be reached at 215-641-1500. J & B Software is exhibiting at booth #312 at TAWPI 2002 in Chicago.

Copyright Association for Work Process Improvement Aug 2002

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