Located in Philadelphia, Delaware Investments offers more than 68 years experience in investment management. Delaware
Investments is best known for its value style of equity investing. Delaware Investments is a unique investment firm that places a high regard on innovation. This policy has helped the company grow to approximately $48 billion in assets under management.
As Delaware grew, it realized it needed a better way to keep up with the massive amount of reports generated each day. It required a system that allowed for increased efficiency, reduced paper usage and minimal operational impact. It also needed a system powerful enough to handle 2,500-2,700 reports accessed, real-time daily. After an informal two year search ending in February of 1997, Delaware found its answer in Optical Image Technology, Inc.'s (OIT) Total Solution.
The best plan of action, Delaware decided, was to change the way documents were handled in Investment Accounting. The amount of data Delaware Investments handles is tremendous, and its investment accounting processes are complex. Accountants are responsible for accurately calculating the NAVs (Net Asset Values) for 950 funds and accounts, which means they must crosscheck figures on up to 2,700 reports. A large portion of this crosschecking occurs after 4:30 PM, when the stock market has closed and final security prices are posted into the accounting system. Deadlines are intense as the crosschecking determines NAVs, which must be reported by 5:50 PM.
Not only did Delaware want to find a way to eliminate the printing of these 2,700 reports per day, but it wanted to find a way to make the accountants' jobs easier. OptiFICHE, OIT"s COLD-ERM module, offered the solution. "We chose OIT because it offered a flexible package with many components," says Scott Sisson, AVP, Investment Systems. "Its standard back-end engine and intuitive cascade views provide the functionality we need, and the scalability and easy system setup allowed us to grow into the system."
Once installed, the process began paying off immediately. The 2,700 mutual fund reports are captured by the system in real-time and stored on a 36 gig Raid Array and a CD Jukebox, eliminating the need for eight HP 5si LaserJet printers. OptiFICHE was also integrated with Delaware Investments' Core Accounting System, CPort, allowing real-time access to the reports. Most reports are accessible through OIT's system within seconds of being run. A customized nightly burn and purge process was developed to eliminate over 40% of the stored information. Duplicate reports and redundant information are deleted from both the database and the raid array. Best of all, accountants now have immediate on-line access to the reports they need, so cross-checking reports is completed much more quickly and easily.
It did not take long for Delaware Investments to see a return on investment because it was saving money not only in printing costs but in reduced storage and employee overtime.
Managing The Files
To affordably save historical information, Delaware Investments also implemented OIT's ObjectSERVE (Hierarchical Storage Management) Module. Delaware Investments integrated ObjectSERVE to automatically move the data from the hard drive to the less expensive and permanent storage of CD-ROMs. By integrating an internally developed application with ObjectSERVE, all jukebox activity (i.e. CD burning and new platter setup) is handled automatically.
ObjectSERVE also manages the retrieval of data and reduces disk maintenance by intelligently processing requests. For example, if ten users need ten different reports, ObjectSERVE pulls all of the requested reports that are located on the first CD-ROM before changing CD-ROMs. Then, it takes all of the information needed off of the second CD-ROM before moving onto the third. By processing requests in this order, not only do users receive their information faster, increasing their efficiency, but there is less wear and tear on the CD jukebox as well. It is yet another money saving benefit.
Delaware Investments and OIT enhanced the system with a number of customized features. One modified the "cascade search" method of retrieving documents via OIT. The cascade tree consists of six levels (company, department, account, folder, date and document) in which new documents are stored. One enhancement to this was the ability to rearrange the tree so the document was one level above the folder. This allowed Delaware Investments to store information in a way that mimics their business procedures, thus making report retrieval very intuitive to the accountant.
The company also customized the number of items viewable at each level. When the accountant clicks on their fund they see the last thirty-five days of work, not the last two years. The accountant may view reports greater than thirty-five days via searches or by changing the option to view more days if necessary.
Usually only the last report of a given type for each account or fund is saved, so the system was customized to mimic this activity. If a report already exists, the previous is marked for the "wastebasket" and the new one is saved. The accountants also have the option of taking a report out of the wastebasket. A nightly process runs and "empties the wastebasket".
A Great Investment
Delaware Investments has been using these methods for the past two years. While it installed the Document Management System to create efficiencies and save money, it found many unexpected benefits as well. For example, not only are reports never misfiled or lost, but employees have become much more productive as well. Since they now have instant access to information and aged reports, previously sent to offsite storage, they generally complete research within minutes instead of two or three days. Also, there is no longer a need for users to leave their desks in order to obtain reports, which eliminated the "water cooler" effect.
The entire business process dealing with printers has also become more efficient. By eliminating all line printers, there is more space for employees and the amount of paper consumed in a three week period has gone from one-hundred and ten boxes to eighty. "We are very happy with the OIT system," says Mr. Sisson. "We are experiencing cost savings in many unforeseen areas."
There are currently ninety to one hundred users at Delaware Investments accessing the system every day, all day. The success is leading to other departments, such as Financial Control, Broker Operations, Retirement Services and Compliance/Legal, looking into implementing the OIT system as well. "Right now, our current focus is reviewing the system's use for other departments," says Mr. Sisson. "For the current installation we want to add bank statements and other documents (Excel and Word) needed in the investment accounting process. We will also look to implement PUSH technology using TDTs to further increase efficiency."