Gartner BPM: Why and How Allianz Uses BPM, Tim Rolfing

The second half of Lomardi’s vendor session is a presentation by Tim Rolfing, IT Director of Allianz of America Shared Services on how they use (Lombardi’s) BPM. Allianz Life is a 3000-person life insurance organization that’s part of the huge Allianz group of companies.

Their initial drivers for BPM date from 2005:

  • The ability to scale efficiently, based on projected increases in premiums and employees.
  • Leveraging common processes, since they had a number of duplicate functions due in part to their growth through acquisitions. They also had 500-700 systems that were in use throughout their organization that needed to be rationalized.
  • Need for transparency into operations, both to have a view of the end-to-end processes in order to look for areas of process improvement, and for real-time operational process monitoring.
  • Employee job enrichment, by automating some of the routine tasks done by people, thereby allowing people to focus on customer-centric activities. This also allowed the human-facing tasks to be done anywhere in the world, certainly a bonus for a company that’s part of a global organization.

They’ve implemented an impressive number of processes in a short time:

  • Securities application processing
  • Money processing for applying premiums
  • Life insurance underwriting
  • Survey response tracking
  • New (insurance) product implementation, which improved the cycle time to implement a new product from over 50 days to 12 days, and removes IT from the critical path
  • Application document search, sort and prioritization within specialty queues to allow SLAs for specific applications to be met; failure to meet the SLAs can result in financial penalities
  • Service recovery and customer complaint handling, including some historical analytics to determine if these have detectable patterns, such as product or broker

They have a number of other ones lined up for implementation in 2008

He ended with some lessons for success:

  • Look for small processes with significant impact
  • Plan for a deployment time frame of no more than 60-90 days
  • Keep the first pilot project simple
  • Follow an iterative methodology rather than trying to boil the ocean in the first version

They keep the BPM project teams small, and have found a great deal of improved efficiency through their implementations. They have a BPM center of excellence that they use to train the business side. The technical teams have done the Lombardi technical training, and found that the week-long training was adequate for their needs. He wouldn’t talk openly about their vendor selection process, but stated that there were significant differences between BPM products. The business owns the process and maps it down to a specific level of detail (in Blueprint, I believe) before turning it over to IT who “move it over to the BPM tool” — presumably, they’re using Blueprint for modeling by the business, which still requires export/import to get to Lombardi’s TeamWorks execution environment, so round-tripping would definitely be impacted.

As an aside, I really wish that Gartner did a better job of publishing presentation on their website, since there’s material from this (and other) presentations that I’d like to review in the future. They don’t seem to publish any of the presentations from the vendor sessions, even those by customers, and half of the regular session presentations are also missing from the site (and presumably the CD in our conference pack) as of today.

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