David Landry, Verizon’s Executive Director of Sales Support and Billing Systems, spoke about how they used BPM to simplify and improve Verizon’s billing process. They started with a pretty serious spaghetti mess of contract-to-billing processes: 120 different processes, disjointed legacy systems, manual processes, local variations, and a number of other factors making everything from contracts to billing painful for both customers and employees. Due to growth via acquisitions, they also had a number of overlapping systems and processes.
What they needed was a standardized, simplified and automated process for capturing customer contracts, and mapping that into the billing system so that customers’ bills would accurately reflect the terms of their signed contract. Using BEA’s AquaLogic BPM and Service Bus, plus WebLogic Portal, they were able to streamline the process, reduce staff requirements for manual processing and reduce errors in manual data entry (and re-entry), resulting in $9M in savings from staff redeployment and billing credits, as well as greater customer satisfaction due to the quicker, more efficient and more accurate billing processes.
They had a number of drivers behind deploying a reliable, BPM-based solution: SOX compliance was the biggest one, since they now have better auditing of their processes and other controls, but they also considered flexibility of the process with respect to design and incident escalation, self-documenting processes, real-time process monitoring, automation of some manual tasks, and the ability to integrate multiple systems into the processes.
He ended up with five tips for implementing BPM:
- Secure technically capable staff; in Verizon’s situation, the processes were so complex and involved the integration of so many legacy systems that some very sharp IT people were required.
- Understand the business process
- Secure business buy-in
- Be prepared to model early in the lifecycle, and modify the models iteratively throughout the project.
- Understand your development model
In their case, the project was very IT-led (including the modeling activities), although it was a collaboration between the CFO’s office and IT. They started the project in May last year, and delivered their first version in December — pretty fast for something of this complexity. They’ll be doing an incremental next version within the next couple of months, and see this as an ongoing process, not a one-shot implementation.