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Business Process Management Moves Beyond Workflow to Business Optimization

Banks are using business process management to improve the customer experience.

Cultural Changes of BPM

Of course, BPM brings its own changes. "BPM is a religion that the company acquires over time," Mohindroo continues. Because BPM is not department- or product-specific, it can break down barriers between business and IT, and topple silos of functions, he says.

The renewed focus on business processes necessary for BPM also should secure IT more of a voice in the bank's decision-making process, adds Mike Nichols, president of the American Society for Quality, a Milwaukee-based trade organization focused on the tools and strategies that support quality. "Technology [traditionally] is not invited on the front end when people are defining the problem," Nichols says. "Technology groups have to change this -- they have to be on the front end because they are in the best position to challenge processes."

While the technology behind Eurobank's BPM efforts was an important piece of the puzzle, the bank's Livas stresses that IT was simply the facilitator -- the business drove the project. "This is not a software project," he observes. "This is a business project because it is a cultural change."

Livas adds that the cultural changes resulting from a BPM initiative are long-term. "BPM is not just for one thing," he says. "We have to be able to manage and define the business rules that we use. ... By understanding those rules and defining the process, the business can pass those definitions through tools to IT." Livas notes that Eurobank now has business process engineers who design processes and the associated rules, then turn those deliverables over to IT for deployment.

While these cultural changes enable improved efficiency, IT is not used to having responsibility over the policies and strategies that go into developing business rules. As a result, the new way of doing business also introduces new roles for IT and business executives, such as the business analyst.

BPM and SOA

Any discussion of BPM would not be complete without mention of service-oriented architecture (SOA). According to First Horizon's Salazar, SOA and BPM are opposite sides of the same coin, and banks should keep them tightly coupled.

BB&T's Liles says he never could have implemented the account-opening process so quickly if it hadn't been for SOA. "If you don't have SOA, you start with simple workflows where you are not integrating with anything," he explains. "If you want to automate and not just manage process, you want to do [BPM] on top of SOA."

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