BEAParticipate: BPM for Compliance

Brandon Dean of BEA talked about how to use BPM for compliance and improved visibility into processes. I wrote a course on compliance and BPM recently, and I was interested in how they’re seeing this roll out amongst their customer base.

Regulatory compliance (e.g., SOX) and any sort of commercial compliance (e.g., SLAs) or organizational compliance (e.g., internal KPIs) have many of the same requirements: processes need to behave in a consistent fashion, and any exceptions have to be handled using a standard method. Measurements on how well that the process is meeting its stated compliance goals are critical to understand whether or not the underlying business process is compliant. This, of course, plays directly to the strengths of BPM: providing a platform for standardizing and, where possible, automating processes; integration of multiple systems; consistent exception handling; security on the process steps and a comprehensive audit trail on who did what, and when; and monitoring and reporting for visibility into the processes and proactive alerts when they start to wander out of compliance.

Dean covered on how to position BPM for compliance, starting with a great categorization of organizational types ranging from companies that already have compliant processes but just need a better audit trail, to those that are actively trying to find ways around compliance. He made a point that I also discussed in my compliance course: if you implement compliance on a regulation-by-regulation basis, it’s a lot more expensive and time-consuming. In fact, I used a quote from a Gartner report from 2004, in the middle of the SOX gold rush:

Enterprises that choose one-off solutions for each regulatory challenge that they face will spend 10 times more on compliance projects than their counterparts that take a proactive approach.

 He went through a number of case studies and how their compliance was facilitated by BPM:

  • Dental insurance claims processing, which started out as a completely manual process that had no audit trail and didn’t enforce standard rates and practices. Using BPM, they not only had some processes decrease cycle time from 3 days to 8 minutes, but they were able to meet HIPAA compliance requirements.
  • Trade processing, where the SLA was not being met and they were risking losing the ability to execute trades. BPM allowed them to set alerts on trades that arrived but didn’t complete for some reason, so that any manual intervention required could be performed in time to meet their SLA. This also allowed them to do follow-the-sun processing for more intelligent human resource allocation.
  • Residential mortgage processing, which wasn’t able to track requests for special handling in loan origination, and was causing them to lose customers. Using BPM, documents were automatically rendezvoused with waiting processes, and the processes presented for work at the point when they were ready to be processed rather than having people track the missing documents manually. This also automated feedback to the brokers to submit the necessary documents to reduce the wait time. A major gain was in making sure that all the information was gathered in a timely manner, and not presented for processing until all the information was available.

Although I think that Dean’s definition of compliance is a bit stretched to include both customer SLAs and internal KPIs, his points are valid for developing many types of business cases for BPM.

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