Business Process Management (BPM) is known for its ability to automate repeatable processes, creategreater visibility of a...
For many institutions, there are even bigger tie-ins to corporate governance, compliance, and riskmanagement, all of which...
Every organisation is different, so I do not think there is a one-size-fits-all approach that is consistentlythe best appr...
How important is the ability to “modify on the fly” and how does this manifest itself in thesolution? How can you ensure t...
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Implementing BPM Enterprise Wide

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Business Process Management (BPM) is known for its ability to automate repeatable processes, create greater visibility of an end-to-end process, and enhance process agility. The end result is improved business performance, which translates into providing greater value for customers and stakeholders. Where the challenge lies, however, is implementing BPM enterprise-wide.

In this interview, John Jarrett, Director of Business Process Management at AGF Trust, a premier Canadian-based investment solutions firm, discusses the benefits of deploying BPM across an organisation and reveals how to take the first steps in creating an enterprise-wide strategy.

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Implementing BPM Enterprise Wide

  1. 1. Business Process Management (BPM) is known for its ability to automate repeatable processes, creategreater visibility of an end-to-end process, and enhance process agility. The end result is improvedbusiness performance, which translates into providing greater value for customers and stakeholders.Where the challenge lies, however, is implementing BPM enterprise-wide.In this interview, John Jarrett, Director of Business Process Management at AGF Trust, a premierCanadian-based investment solutions firm, discusses the benefits of deploying BPM across anorganisation and reveals how to take the first steps in creating an enterprise-wide strategy.How can BPM produce innovation and agility within an organisation? Where can BPM have themost impact from a business value standpoint?Business Process Management technology and methodology can improve the execution and work-quality of virtually any department within an organisation. An important difference between BPM andprevious process improvement methodologies like Business Process Reengineering is that BPM doesnot require a “build from the ground up” approach. By improving the visibility into already existingprocesses, BPM can uncover areas for innovation that may be unseen or lying dormant.Process areas that are ripe for optimisation benefits of BPM are typically those with numerous processsteps, excessive hand-offs between people and systems or large numbers of exceptions — also inareas where there are crucial human decision-points requiring real-time access to data. BPM not onlygenerates an automation boost to straight-through processing, but it can also deliver the biggestbusiness value impact in areas that involve ad-hoc and unstructured processes.Companies often want to start small with BPM by targeting low-hanging fruit around activities such asemployee on-boarding or automated expense management to score a BPM “quick win” thatdemonstrates value. However, ultimately mission-critical processes are the ones that deliver the biggestbenefits to the organisation. A mission-critical process that can be treated like an end-to-end “casescenario,” such as the origination and servicing of a bank loan, is a prime BPM project candidate.How does BPM tie in with Process Excellence/Lean Six Sigma? What, if any, synergies are therebetween BPM and Process Excellence/Lean Six Sigma and how can they best be leveraged aspart of an overall Process Excellence strategy?I think that there are several key ties between BPM and Process Excellence. One of my mantras is that“you cannot successfully figure out where you need to go if you do not know where you have been.”BPM provides the foundation to help determine where you need to go. BPM will help to uncover theconcrete and repeatable processes that can then be monitored, measured, and improved upon. Or, ifthe BPM platform is tied into a reporting database, then it can also provide reliable metrics for variousprocesses, which may then be analysed for further improvement opportunities.Without BPM, an organisation may have processes that are documented, but for various reasons arenot actually followed according to the way they were documented. In this case, studying theseprocesses for improvement opportunities will be a hit and miss affair. Also, often reengineering efforts are based on a review of metrics to identify process improvementopportunities. However, it’s important to consider first whether those metrics are the right metrics, as themetrics could potentially be just as flawed as the processes being targeted for improvement. It istherefore risky to base process improvement decisions on a flawed set of metrics as it could deliverunexpected results. Here the linkage between BPM and Six Sigma is that metrics driven fromstandardised, repeatable processes through BPM will provide a better set of measures to feed into a SixSigma type of analysis of the problem.
  2. 2. For many institutions, there are even bigger tie-ins to corporate governance, compliance, and riskmanagement, all of which are critical due to their importance to overall organisational well-being. Acompany may have a wonderfully detailed set of policies, procedures, and processes. However, ifmanagers and front-line employees do not understand them, do not follow them, or misinterpret them,they will not have served their purpose. With BPM, the business can create a process which is both the“approved” and the “actual” organisational workflow process. The process could then have key activitiesembedded right into the platform such as escalations to certain authority levels, access levels to work onsomething at a given step, and/or have built in quality controls where required. Thus, BPM provides boththe discipline and governance so that the policy, processes and procedures are actually being followed. If an organisation is looking to implement BPM enterprise-wide, what is the most compellinginternal business case?If you want to free up business users from mundane tasks that can be automated so that they may focuson more value-added or complex steps in the process, then you have a good potential case forexploring BPM. If you want to improve consistency, repeatability, and documentation of your existingprocesses then you have a good case for exploring BPM. The goal of enhancing corporate governance,compliance and risk management also provides a compelling business case. With a good BPM platform,your people can also be freed up to focus on the work at hand rather than all of the other stuff thatimpedes their work. This creates better quality output along with more consistent and repeatable activitywhich can improve employee productivity. It also generates other potential benefits such as reducedcycle or training time.What are the critical first steps in creating an enterprise-wide BPM strategy? What are the criticalfactors of a successful strategy?I think that it is important to have leaders at the top who are committed to BPM. Their support is criticalin terms of driving organisational engagement, securing funding for various IT and business resources,and sponsoring the vendor that will be required. They also help to champion the changes that theorganisation may have to go through on its BPM journey.Establishing a Centre of Excellence (COE) within the organisation is also critical as successful BPMcannot be accomplished by one area in isolation. Full participation from IT, the business, riskmanagement, compliance, the vendor and all other areas that have a contribution to make will go a longway towards integrating BPM across the organisation. It’s important to note that there may bechallenges where BPM can blur the traditional boundaries of functions across various departments.Bringing all the players to work on BPM together will help ensure that the key components for successbesides just the system components are considered in the development of enterprise-wide BPM.Another major component related to the COE is to determine ownership and accountabilities for allaspects of the BPM initiative. The first critical question to ask is who is the leader of the BPM initiative,that is, will it be an IT-led initiative or business-led? This question needs to be tabled at the verybeginning of the journey plus during the on-boarding stages of the platform, as well post initial rollout.Apart from a decision around BPM leadership accountability, clear owners also need to be appointed toengage in the journey from both IT and the business.Consideration also needs to be given to creating a specific process group in the organisation, or toempowering an existing one with some independence for process development. Ideally, this processgroup should reside outside of both IT and front-line operational groups. This structure ensures that theprocess group is well positioned to determine the optimal use of technology versus people resources. Italso provides the opportunity for the organisation to take more global or end-to-end view across theenterprise versus a narrow focus specific around one or two areas.Finally, the choice of BPM technology must be aligned to the strategic objectives and businessrequirements that will be crucial to the success of your BPM program. It’s important to be clear aboutwhat requirements you are seeking from BPM (e.g., is it ease-of-use, is it workflow management, or is itcontent management, etc.) so that you can choose the right vendor to meet your needs.If a financial services company is looking to implement a BPM platform enterprise-wide, howshould it be phased in within the company? For example, should it start in areas with the mostbuy-in for instance? Or in those most urgently underperforming? Or in those where theopportunity for innovation is ripe?
  3. 3. Every organisation is different, so I do not think there is a one-size-fits-all approach that is consistentlythe best approach. A good case could probably be made for starting off the platform using any of theabove triggers as the focal point, and in each case there is a tremendous opportunity for success andhence buy-in over the long run.Instead, I would come at the problem from a slightly different angle. I would try to carve out an area,team, or process that is fairly small and self-contained, but which could deliver the high visibilitynecessary to champion BPM as the lightening rod of change. I would try to showcase an area, team, orprocess which would benefit from BPM; however, the need should not be so great as to drive upcomplexity. A small and quick win can help generate buy-in for a larger, more mission-critical BPMprogram.In terms of selecting the right team or area, here are some criteria to consider: Focus on the strength of the underlying people in the potential target areas. You want people who are motivated and who have the right skills to undertake the complexities of going down the BPM path. The group should also have a solid understanding over their work processes and ideally would have them well documented. They should also be able to clearly articulate and decide with some confidence upon their business requirements. The reason that I share this point is that the group needs to have an end-state vision in mind, and they need to understand how their people will work with the technology to change the way in which they operate. There is great risk to the program if these components are not in place. The risk is that articulated requirements end up not being exactly what was needed or that once BPM is implemented, the outcome is different than what the business unit had in mind. This can significantly impact the successful implementation of the BPM platform.To sum up, find an area that could generate a quick win. Some selection factors would be to assess thestrength and process maturity of the potential candidate teams and weigh them against the lowercomplexity process opportunities along with where there is the most potential impact/visibility. I feelstrongly that this approach will provide the greatest opportunity for success in order to get the BPM ballrolling.1. What does success look like with the BPM program? It would be great if you could talk about what quick wins are there to be had and how can momentum be sustained; how can progress of the program be tracked; and what are the key KPIs that the BPM platform should track.Success with BPM can take on several forms: One form is around cycle time and productivity improvements. For example, suppose you have a “pre-BPM” process that is very manual and time consuming for users. On top of this, the ramp-up and training cycle is very long before employees are able to be anywhere near accurate or productive in their work. If after BPM you are able to significantly cut down these cycle times while increasing staff productivity, then you have made considerable improvement. Some measures to try to track here would be training time, individual employee productivity, error rates or other related quality control factors. Another area of success could be on the internal audit and risk management side of the business. The ability to clearly review a process and to make key adjustments in a timely manner is critical to a well functioning business. Policies and procedures should also be followed by users in a more repeatable and consistent manner. Therefore, audit results are great KPIs and indicators of BPM success. Finally, perhaps the quickest and biggest win is simply greater visibility into the work itself. Managers can view a dashboard of the active processes in their group. They can instantly view how long tasks have been in flight, what state they are in, and which teams or individuals are working on them. Other systems may provide a view into some components, but typically, the manager needs to translate what they see into a mental picture of their pipeline, evaluate how they think they are doing, and weigh this against team capacity. Doing it the old way can take up much time and manual effort to obtain a good snap-shot around how the team is functioning. Here, KPIs may need to be a bit anecdotal with manager feedback before and after in the form of a survey or observational notes. Otherwise, if Service Level Agreement data or cycle time benchmarks are available, then these would also be good KPIs to track.
  4. 4. How important is the ability to “modify on the fly” and how does this manifest itself in thesolution? How can you ensure that your enterprise-wide BPM platform is equipped to adapt tothe changes to the business, e.g., recent M&A activity?If an organisation wishes to be nimble, this concept is critical. Even if this is not an immediate need, or ifthe organisation is less fluid with its needs, there may be changes required for seasonality, volume orstaffing level fluctuations, or other business drivers, which will fuel the need to make ongoing changes.The chosen platform should either be flexible enough to support an “advanced” business-user who canmake changes, or it should be something that IT can deliver within a 30 day “maintenance release” typeof cycle. If the system is not able to support business needs, then there is a risk that the business willfind ways to work around it or despite it, which can ultimately undermine the whole concept of BPM.What other challenges should financial services firm be wary of while implementing anenterprise-wide BPM platform? How can they get around these challenges?BPM is not a big bang, but a journey. You are not finished after the initial roll-out, so plan to be in it forthe long-haul. There will be another area of the enterprise to on-board, or the on-boarded areas willeither need changes due to new products, volumes, objectives, or policy changes. Further, they maysimply need additional adjustments to be made as they become more familiar with and learn how tobetter leverage the tool. Strongly consider opting for a regular system release cycle that is at leastmonthly or quarterly at most. Otherwise, you risk regressing into creative workarounds that underminethe goals of BPM.If possible, once an area is targeted to go onto a BPM platform, select some key processes and modelthem on this platform as soon as possible so that they can be turned into a compelling demonstration forthe affected team. Once they can see their work in action, their understanding of the system will changesignificantly, along with their view on what their requirements really should be. Any feedback received atthis point can either be addressed so that adjustments can be made going forward, or the feedback canbe talked through until there is better alignment (or both!). Without some initial process modelling, yourun the risk of a big delivery that might fail to meet expectations, could miss the mark, or may have to becompletely re-worked. This is a critical change management step that will help ensure better transition tothe new ways of doing things. This is also another reason why the COE concept is so important inensuring that those who are impacted by BPM have the opportunity to participate in the design andbecome fully immersed in the program.Interview by Genna Weiss.

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