Arif Ali is an experienced Information Technology Solutions Specialist with hands-on working experience with many Customer Communication Management (CCM) technologies. He completed his Masters in Print Media Management from the University of Arts London, England, and is currently a Technical Delivery Lead (Consultant) at TD Bank. Through more than 25 years of exemplary experience developing strategies to improve the creation, delivery, storage and retrieval of outbound customer communications, he possess strong knowledge in bringing conceptual design from orchestration to completion while integrating various technologies.
The challenging part of any project is to map the step by step journey to its successful completion. While on the surface it sounds like a simple process, in reality, it is not especially when it comes to customer communication delivery. There are many stakeholders involved in a CCM project – including various technology teams, business, marketing, compliance and regularity bodies and the list goes on. Therefore, the need to bring all of them together to understand and provide what's required to minimize the cost and increase the efficiencies is a significant task. The steps below elaborate briefly what is required to plan our journey.
The critical first step in the process is to define the requirements from all the stakeholders including: Project Sponsor/Line of Business, Marketing and Branding, Legal and Compliance and Print Vendor requirements. Also, it should cover various technologies, template requirements, source application, high level architecture diagram and system integration/system interaction activities.
Graphic Design – Visual Mock-Up
In many cases this step is not taken into account until the very end when the final results in form of a statement/letter or other correspondences does NOT deliver the brand or the message clearly. The significance of a visual mock-up goes a long way and serves as a blueprint for each group to follow in building the documents. It should consist of all the artifacts and source files including logos, fonts and images. It should be prepared and approved up front from legal and compliance, the business owner and marketing team.
In this age of information, the term data is being used in all conversations to some extent but when it comes to building a CCM application - it holds a core significance to make the communication meaningful and relevant to each customer. Every composition software requires the data in a structure to build the application. In this step the technical understanding between different teams gets settled in terms of data file layout or schema or other input data file structure requirements. Also, the integration of passing the data from source systems in a contractual format for other systems to map the data. In short, the key decision being made in this step to conform data file layout/schema and data mapping along with any specific business rules required for output formatting.
This is an optional step which could be introduced in case data passed for composition requires further massaging. It could help to normalize the data or merge the data from different upstream to one input data file for document processing. These can be home grown software build using Java, C++, Dot Net or other technologies.
This is the most vital component to build the communication, which will eventually be in the hands of your customers, in the form of their preferred format. In this core step we take all the information gathered in the above steps and build an application – depending on the complexity of a Form/Statement or more generically a document and its integration – the application could be a simple one or more complex in nature. Therefore, the decision to opt for a composition software as an organization holds a significant value. Since all the static and dynamic contents will be put together with all the capabilities to support Accessibility, eSignature and other custom features.
This step counts towards an optional activity as well depending on the overall project requirement. If there is a requirement for splitting the composed files or adding the accessibility or other tagging, these can be covered in this process. Also, most of the reconciliation and reporting controls can be developed using either home grown software or other integration built-in systems.
This step is somewhat linked with Document Composition activity and depending on the software capabilities various outbound formats such as: PDF, HTML, and PS/AFP can be achieved through this process. This is where we need to look into the print technology (in-house or outsourced) requirements or document archiving and e-presentment scope to make sure these are covered.
These steps provide a high-level walkthrough to get equipped and familiar with unknown territory within a CCM project roadmap. The terminology and sequences outlined above might be different referenced or utilized within various CCM providers, but the scope is the same. In upcoming blogs, I will cover each step comprehensively… stay tuned.