TUCON: Centralized BPM Platform at HBOS

The last session of the day was a bit of a tough choice: I was thinking about heading over to see the session on in-process analytics through the integration of Spotfire and BusinessEvents, but decided in favor of hearing Richard Frost of HBOS (a UK-based financial services organization) discuss their centralized BPM platform and center of excellence strategy. Since they were created from a merger of Halifax and Bank of Scotland, and are made up of a number of brands, there’s quite a bit of vertical IT within the individual organizations. They’ve been moving some of this into shared services (what they call Group IT), including a business process layer based on TIBCO’s iProcess.

They had some significant drivers for BPM, allowing for growth while containing costs, and codifying processes and knowledge to reduce the impact of employee turnover. They had a variety of process types to manage as well, from straight-through processing with integration to their existing systems to high-touch human-centric and collaborative processes, so needed a product that could handle both well. They deployed BPM in a number of stages:

  • Digitizing, with human workflow and case management based on scanned documents
  • Automation
  • Optimization, through automation and separation of process logic from operational systems

As they roll this out, the benefits from automation have been most apparent and used in future business cases, and implementation costs are expected to reduce through reusability.

Instead of each division deploying their own BPM, they are moving to a centralized platform for a number of reasons:

  • Shared processes, such as complaints handling
  • Shared platform for cost savings
  • Shared resources
  • Best practices and governance
  • Architecture simplification

On this common software and hardware platform, each division has their own unique services, processes, rules and parameters; they’re now building a common services layer that will be reusable across divisions as well as consolidating onto the same physical hardware and software platform. They’ve had to determine ownership of each layer — which is owned by the divisions, shared services application development, and shared services technology — as well as governance of these layers by a business-led user group, an IT-led process certification board and a joint business-IT change approvals board.

They see the business opportunity for BPM is to remove the IT problems from what the business has to consider by providing a common platform, allowing them to focus on business and process improvement. Frost showed a chart that mapped process types (simple, regular, complex) against solutions (manual work distribution and handling, imaging and workflow with minimal integration, BPM with application integration) in order to identify the key processes to consider for BPM: although the conventional wisdom is to go for the simple processes that can be fully automated with BPM and application integration, he also feels that there’s huge benefits in looking at the complex processes that require a lot of human knowledge work. They also use this as a guideline for both simplifying processes and pushing for a greater degree of automation.

In an example of one of their insurance arrears processes, they’ve removed 60% of the human effort by automating most of the steps involved, while improving both service times and consistency.

His recommendations:

  • Understand your organizational model, recognizing where you are in your process efforts and aligning your BPM and SOA strategies
  • Don’t obsess on software selection, or the divisions will just do their own thing instead of waiting for the common platform
  • It will be hard work and will take a significant piece of time — HBOS has spent two years from when they did their first TIBCO pilot to where they are today with a shared platform
  • Reviewing and optimizing processes is crucial so that you’re automating the right processes
  • Needs a combined effort of a business push and an IT pull

An interesting message here is that although we all want 3-month delivery cycles for BPM projects, creating a shared BPM platform across multiple divisions takes a lot longer. A roadmap that allows divisional installations of the enterprise-standard platform in the interim, to be converged on the shared platform at a later date, is essential to allow progress on BPM applications within divisions while the shared platform is being developed.

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