Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Innovations Redesign Workplace at Liberty

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Innovations Redesign Workplace at Liberty

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Technological innovations at Liberty Bancorp Inc. have already changed for the better the way most of its employees go about their work.

They are able to pick up the phone and dial just four digits for any Liberty extension, even from the Oklahoma City area to the Tulsa area. Video conferencing saves executives time as they meet at either downtown center rather than travel back and forth on the turnpike. A computer network allows employees to access information from other departments to provide service for customers.

"This company does business differently now than it did a year ago," according to Stephen D. Plunk, president of the newly created subsidiary Liberty Technologies Inc. "It's changed my life.

"I use my voice mail when I'm on vacation. I can see who's called and distribute messages, and I can do that 24 hours a day. I find that I don't have to physically be in as many places as I used to."

The Oklahoma City-based company operates 31 banking facilities through Liberty Bank and Trust Co. of Oklahoma City NA and Liberty Bank and Trust Co. of Tulsa NA. It has redesigned the workplace by providing employees with personal computers that are connected by a client-server network to other areas of the bank.

"We had 100 PCs in the whole company in August 1992," Plunk said. "We've been adding about 125 PCs per month, and by September of this year we will have 1,500."

Already Plunk said the advances have reduced Liberty's paper by 40 percent while providing faster access to documents. In many instances hard copies have been eliminated. He estimated that the payback for the investments made would probably take 24 months to 36 months, "but we enhanced productivity from day one."

He said the core budget for technology has not increased other than the $2 million to $3 million Liberty has spent on the personal computers to give everyone access to the network.

Plunk, a former examiner for the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, had been president of Liberty Tulsa since 1990 and has been assigned to the technology issue for more than two years. He was named president of Liberty Technologies in November, when the official unit was formed.

"It was a change for me. I am used to working problem loans. I have been with Liberty since January 1984. I came from the OCC where I was a bank examiner. I was the examiner that closed Penn Square Bank."

Plunk said banks have been challenged to reduce their noninterest expenses by 30 percent by the end of the decade. The only way that can be accomplished is with improvements in technology that increase productivity.

He has noted some significant usage trends so far.

"We average 10,000 voice mail messages per day _ that's eight-10 per employee. It has given us improved productivity. We have 1,000 E-mail (electronic mail) messages per day."

E-mail allows employees to send whole documents electronically to others for action.

"All that E-mail would have been paper. Also we have editing capability on E-mail. It has saved lots of time and money in auditing, in particular."

He explained that the auditing department published regular reports which required input from both Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Drafts would be delayed as they were sent from one city to the other. That travel time has been eliminated as the documents are sent back and forth electronically and edited via personal computers.

"The gains in efficiency have allowed them to publish their reports a week earlier than before just because they don't have to wait for days for documents to move from one location to another. …

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