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Business process management provides agility in lean times

John Moore | Dec. 11, 2013
When financial times are tough, the capability to streamline business processes, improve efficiency and achieve agility would appeal to any company. That's why firms today are increasingly finding new and sometimes unique ways to use BPM tools.

Workflow automation via BP Logix enables employees to pursue more productive activities. "Anybody in a mid-sized to large company, like us, who isn't doing this now needs to be on it," McLendon says. "It has been a force multiplier for us."

BPM Tools Provide Agility, Standard Methodologies
Gilbert, Ariz. reports a similar experience. The town, with a population of nearly 220,000, implemented K2's BPM tool in 2009. Gilbert first focused on automating IT request forms but has since expanded the use of BPM to include automating the town's budget process.

BPM has reduced man-hours and paperwork while increased the staff's time to do other things, not "chase paper," says Kirsten Larsen, IT administrator with the town.

The technology helps Gilbert keep its costs in check as well. Process automation has let the town handle its workload without hiring additional personnel. "We have one of the leanest staff-to-citizen ratios in the state," Larsen notes.

Meanwhile, other organizations seek improved business agility in BPM. BNY Mellon, an investment services and investment management company, uses a number of BPM tools. BPM helps the financial services firm respond faster to business needs, whether that involves building new applications or modifying existing ones.

The approach also drives continuous process improvement and introduces operational efficiencies, according to Alex Golbin, managing director and head of BPM Technology, which is in the Enterprise Delivery Services and Architecture group at BNY Mellon. "By using BPM, we can reengineer the process and really introduce agility to our operations and customer services areas."

BPM's agility also helps BNY Mellon keep up with regulatory needs, Golbin adds. New and changing regulations compel financial services firms to alter business processes and systems.

BNY Mellon's BPM toolkit includes such vendors as Pegasystems and IBM. Golbin says the company's goal is to continue using multiple tools but develop a consistent vision and strategy for deploying them.

To that end, BNY Mellon established a global BPM center of excellence to promote uniform, companywide methods around BPM tool use. That approach marks a departure from past practice, when BPM tools were used independently within individual lines of business.

"If you're trying to use [tools] as an enterprise strategy, you need good, talented people and a sufficient number of people who know how to use the tools," Golbin says.

The More Firms Use BPM, The More Complex It Can Get
BPM adopters tend to focus on inward-facing, back-office functions when they first use the technology. An enterprise's early projects may involve fairly simple forms and processes, but subsequent efforts grow in complexity.

Gilbert, for instance, first used K2's BPM tool to automate all IT forms - requests for VPN access, hardware and software, among others. The forms were designed with Microsoft InfoPath and then connected to the town's SharePoint and SQL servers using K2-built workflows, Larsen explained.


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