June 21, 2007

BPM Best Practices

Memphis-based First Horizon National ($38.8 billion in assets) implemented BPM to optimize sales and service across its entire organization. "We wanted to optimize processes on an end-to-end scale," explains Robert Salazar, the bank's SVP of enterprise technology. "We were very effective and efficient at the functional or department level, but we felt there was an opportunity to improve operational abilities as they spanned groups."

First Horizon's BPM implementation received a gold seal of approval in a September 2006 Forrester best practices case study, which featured Salazar's seven best practices for successful BPM implementations. The first is to start with a common view of overall process. "Understand what you are really trying to achieve -- your organizational needs," Salazar says. "And from there make all your other decisions."

Salazar's second best practice is to obtain C-level support. To justify the costs of First Horizon's BPM project to non-IT business leaders, Salazar relates, he and his group drew up a list of a half-dozen projects and demonstrated how BPM would increase efficiency and quickly lead to cost savings. The items on the list were "cost-justified on a project-to-project basis," he explains.

Salazar's third best practice is to choose a flexible business process management suite (BPMS). After more than six months of searching, First Horizon chose a BPM suite from Fuego (which since has been acquired by San Jose, Calif.-based BEA and made part of the vendor's AquaLogic business service interaction product line).

"We really weren't looking for a workflow tool, but [rather] a true process management environment," Salazar explains. To vet and deploy a solution requires that you think process and collaboration, he adds. "There's a very tight correlation between decisions at process design and how those decisions translate -- without much technical work," Salazar says.