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Lakestone Bank & Trust Co.

Intranets Help Michigan Bank Go Green

As more Americans become more environmentally-conscious, “going green” is becoming a visible part of the global business culture, particularly among financial institutions. 

Banks are striving to be good corporate citizens by conserving valuable resources and using practices that protect the environment. Intranets are proving to be ideal mechanisms to support their green initiatives. Why? Intranets allow information to be published, stored and retrieved electronically. Consequently, they reduce the need for paper, printing, ink, energy, storage and other operational costs. 

An intranet is a private computer network that uses Internet protocols and network connectivity to share part of an organization's information or operations with its employees. Essentially, it’s an organization’s micro-sized, internal version of the Internet. Authorized users—on-site and off-site can access company information, computing resources and internal communications. 

Employee portals are common applications for intranet technology, and they are becoming increasingly popular with green banks. Case in point: Lakestone Bank & Trust Co. The full-service bank in Lapeer, Mich. has been serving the community since 1902 and is an active supporter of civic and charitable organizations. As such, it is committed to practicing corporate social responsibility.

Lakestone Bank & Trust Co. had an intranet installed to make its operations leaner and greener. The bank’s objective was two-fold, according to its Director of Information Technology, Shelley Childers. “There’s so much paper out there,” she explained. “There’s a lot of information that doesn’t need to be printed but that everyone needs to be made aware of. We wanted to streamline operations and enhance our communications.” 

The employee intranet installed by Tennessee-based Banc Intranets was a perfect solution. It not only allows the bank to improve communications, but it’s also helping to save on paper and other expenses. “We love it,” Childers said. “It makes us all feel better and good about doing business. Due to regulations, we have to print so much paper to give to customers, and any little bit we can do to save on that internally really helps.” At this point, it’s too early to tell just how much paper the bank will save using the intranet. But Childers expects the savings to be significant. “Our goal is to have a savings in paper use—to drop consumption by 20 percent,” she said. “I see no problem with reaching that goal.” 

Green Benefits 
Intranets offer a variety of features to help banks enhance their communication, slash paper consumption and reduce costs. Because an intranet is developed as a central information repository, it becomes the single destination for employees to retrieve company documents, policies, forms, and other documents bank employees use daily to process customer requests. This easy access reduces an employee’s frustration level in having to physically file through hard copies to locate current information. “A productive employee produces a satisfied client. Putting the most current information at our employee’s fingertips allows them to focus on the task at hand,” said Childers.

Banc Intranets offers BancWorks, a content management system and BancTrain, learning management software, to help organizations make their operations greener. These tools are specially designed by bankers for financial institutions, and they are designed for seamless integration. 

With BancWorks, employees have convenient online access to policies, procedures, and important corporate information. This reduces the amount of time and paper required to keep employees abreast of the latest information. A handy search feature makes it easy to locate information on the intranet—minimizing calls placed to human resources. As an intangible benefit, employees are united through on-line communications and processes—which promotes cohesiveness, collaboration and confidence. Employees are also better educated to assist customers because they can access information immediately, rather than wait to receive printed materials. 

BancTrain is a training management system that enables financial organizations to create, track and monitor all their training initiatives in one place. It provides a secure Web-based environment where employees can complete vital training and take assessments to test their knowledge online. This helps to minimize the fees associated with off-site training. Training managers can use the system to create courses, schedule classes and stay on top of employees’ status with real-time reporting. 

Smooth Transition Process 
Childers is excited about the capabilities offered by BancWorks and BancTrain. In particular, she appreciates the built-in security and other user-friendly features. “Our employees only have access to what we give them,” she explained. “With a paper document, it might not be as secure.” 

Choosing an intranet solution can be a daunting task for organizations. With so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which one offers the best fit. The key is to select an intranet that is user-friendly and compatible with the existing system. 

That’s essentially what it came down to in the case of Lakestone Bank & Trust Co. “Banc Intranets has been wonderful,” Childers said. “We had a committee of about 20 employees from different departments who helped in the evaluation process. We looked at several options, but BancWorks was the best solution. It was designed for banks, which just made it easier for us.” 

Lakestone Bank & Trust Co. has taken a step further in streamlining their operations and enhancing communications with their corporate intranet. “So far, the bank’s employees have responded favorably to the intranet; their reaction is positive. Getting early buy-in from everyone helped to smooth the implementation,” Childers said.