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The Commerce Bank BPM Program has been evolving for more than seven years with several lessons learned along the way. The growing awareness and the acquisition of an enterprise-wide BPMS tool led us into the automation era. We focused heavily on automating processes to leverage our technology investment and drive further awareness of the BPM value proposition. It also became critical to advance the methods we use to predict and measure real benefits to ensure we prioritized appropriately and gained accountability from business partners for improvements to be implemented and sustained. All of these learnings led us to the most recent organizational change a year ago with the formation of Advisory Services, a team that resides in the IT Business Office. Here are some of the key elements of our current BPM Program focused on People, Processes and Technologies.
It Begins and Ends with People
Our BPM Program consists of the following roles: BPM Consultants, Strategic Business Consultants, Solutions Architects, and a Business Process Management Software (BPMS) Automation Team. The Consultants are process-minded individuals generally rotating from other areas within the Bank. Successful Consultants are inquisitive, detailed, creative, influential, assertive, and politically savvy demonstrating executive presence and leadership skills, as well as some technical aptitude. The Solutions Architect role requires a strong technical aptitude and deep experience, as well as varied backgrounds in a wide-array of technical platforms. Also, this role requires creative solutions design skills and the ability to apply deep familiarity with our current and emerging technology capabilities and design patterns to the design and composition of new solutions. The BPMS Automation team consists of traditional roles of Developers, Business Analysts, and Project Managers working in close collaboration with the other Consultants and Solutions Architects.
"The growing awareness and the acquisition of an enterprise-wide BPMS tool led us into the automation era"
The general strategy within our BPM Program has been to hire for the skill set and interests, then train for the formal principles and practices. After some time in the Consultant role, options are available to obtain BPM certifications through additional training. The typical tenure of individuals in the BPM roles has been approximately three years, as the exposure to most areas of the Bank provides visibility to future career path options. In addition to providing rich career paths for talent management, another strategic benefit of these rotations is the placement of embedded BPM champions throughout the organization which drives a process culture.
Processes Must Be at the Center of a Strong BPM Practice
The success of Commerce Bank’s BPM Program has a great deal to do with its Executive sponsorship and support. This has allowed us to establish the following processes:
First, a Benefits Quantification protocol was established and refined. Focusing on benefits of potential engagements early on assists with prioritization and management of the project pipeline, as well as driving accountability for delivering business value from BPM work. This is a key way our team stays aligned with corporate goals.
Second, the discipline of consistently managing work products/artifacts throughout the years ensures that the team is utilizing all previously obtained knowledge to be most efficient. This also creates a more holistic view of the organization as to where cross-company connections can be made in processes.
Finally, collaboration is built into our processes. From an internal perspective, there are regular touch points with other IT partners, such as Enterprise Architecture, Agile Transformation, User Experience, IT Budget/Finance Team, IT System Owners, etc. This helps ensure we are applying the best resources to aid the business partners as well as creating standardization where possible, such as naming conventions and engagement approaches. External collaboration is also key to leverage the collective expertise from other organizations in the BPM space.
Technologies Can Be a Powerful Enabler
With the right players assembled on the team and solid processes to guide the approach, technology has proven to be the powerful multiplier for Commerce Bank. The selection and successful deployment of a BPMS was the key. It continues to allow for quick wins, flexibility of use, and visualization of what BPM can do for our business partners.
Although Commerce Bank has fully committed to the use and expansion of our BPMS throughout the organization, here are a few lessons about our technology strategy:
First, it is important to avoid automation of bad processes. While automation will still yield better results than status quo, the best approach is to first determine if there is an opportunity to optimize (or even eliminate) the process first, then automate, if feasible, utilizing both existing technologies and the capabilities of our enterprise BPMS.
Second, determine the IT strategy for core platforms interfacing with the BPMS. For example, is the strategy to have an independent CRM that interfaces to the BPMS a correct one? Will the BPMS ever be the source system of record? Is enterprise-wide licensing the long-term goal for the BPMS tool?
Thirdly, as various processes are automated for a particular part of the organization (specific groups of users), establish an automation program, where applicable. The strategy of grouping functions and prioritizing the rollout of that automated functionality ensures a cohesive approach as well as creating a roadmap based on priority that will yield quicker time to market on delivery of automated processes.
Finally, in addition to fully leveraging the BPMS tool, it is helpful to determine if other technologies can be useful in driving BPM across the organization. Some examples include: BPM flow creation tools, an artifact/process flow archiving technology, simulation tools, and facilitation session technology. These other tools can enhance the effectiveness of the team in performing their roles efficiently and effectively.