Liability Insurance Administrators (LIA), Santa Barbara, Calif., was drowning in paper and all the costs associated with generating it, filing it and keeping it around. With an average of 15,000 to 20,000 active existing insurance policy underwriting files, the firm, which provides error and omissions policies to real estate appraisers, found itself having to hire new clerical staff to handle processing, as well as finding new space for all the documents."In the beginning, we just had one clerical person who would answer phones, do the filing, issue quotes, and do all other clerical work," says Robert Wiley, LIA assistant vice president. "As the company grew year after year, we had to start divvying up those duties to stand-alone positions, receptionist, clerical staff and filing staff. Eventually we had to keep increasing our filing staff, and we're now at the point where we're an office of about 29 people. And we have four full-time file staff and three part timers."

The firm designed a series of clever mechanisms and processes to expedite the handling of paper files, but recognized that it needed, urgently, to move to electronic forms. Wiley points out that many of LIA's customers are firms with up to 20 to 30 appraisers. "So the files get pretty big, especially after you've been renewing them year after year," he says. "The largest room in our office was dedicated to filing. However, we were even running out of that space. We either had to find more physical space or move to electronic storage."

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