Appian Forum: AGF

John Jarrett, director of BPM at AGF Trust, spoke next about their Appian implementation; they’re the trust subsidiary of AGF Management Limited, a mutual funds company in Canada — very familiar territory for me, since the system integration company that I used to run implemented about half of the mutual funds imaging and workflow systems in Toronto in the 1990’s.

AFG Trust initially leveraged the parent mutual fund organization’s back office imaging and workflow system (either Jewelstone or Unisen, I believe, which were owned by AGF), but license expiry required that they look for another solution and they decided to strike out on their own with respect to systems in order to get something that was more suited for their specific needs. Instead of the document-centric solution that they were used to, they decided to take the BPM approach and focus on visibility, flexibility, agility and excellence in their processes. Their goals were to gain a more complete understanding of their own business so that they could understand the bottlenecks and inefficiencies; they also had to deal with the issue of a huge temporary workforce hired for a couple of months during tax season when there is a large influx of transactions as consumers scramble to invest in their retirement accounts before the tax-year-end deadline.

They’ve seen a number of benefits, both hard and soft:

  • increased control over business processes
  • process change and improvement flexibility
  • improved risk management and compliance practices
  • support of continued business growth
  • control expense growth

They selected Appian because of the ease of use and human-centric collaborative approach, the flexibility of having the process designers within the business unit, and the fact that the Appian product included all of the functional components that they required. The project team was positioned as a BPM center of excellence between IT and the operations group where the system was used, with Jarrett and 5 business process designers drawing on some IT resources and some business subject matter experts, plus Appian professional services as required.

They used a less agile approach than some of the other customers that we heard from today, documenting the to-be processes and requirements in great detail before starting implementation. Although he didn’t specify the implementation time, I suspect that this waterfall-style development approach took longer than an agile approach. Their pilot launch was in January of this year, with 1 product and 25 users, then a second launch in April for 3 product lines and 250 people (almost their entire user base within their loan and mortgage business). A third launch is coming up in October, adding more specialized products and lesser numbers of users, and they’re planning for other lines of business. They launch about 250,000 processes per month, since many business processes spawn multiple executing processes in order to complete.

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