PegaWORLD: SunTrust Account Opening

Trace Fooshee, VP and Business Process Lead at SunTrust, discussed how they are using Pega to improve account opening in their wealth management area. He’s in a group that acts as internal management consultants for process transformation and related technology implementation: this covers issues ranging from lack of integration to inconsistent front-back office communications to inefficient manual work management. Some of the challenges within their wealth management account opening process were increasing costs due to inefficient and time-consuming manual processes, inconsistent processes, and poor operational and management control.

In order to address the challenges, they set a series of goals: reducing account opening time from 15 to 4 days, improving staff productivity, eliminating client setup inconsistencies, streamlining approvals, and converting 40% of maintenance requests to STP. In addition to these specific targets, they also wanted to develop enterprise account opening services and assets that could be used beyond wealth management. They approached all of this with online intent-driven forms, imaging and automated work management, online reporting and auditing, backend system integration, and standardized case management to share front and back office information.

Having some previous experience with Pega, they looked at how BPM could be applied to these issues, and found advantages in terms of flexibility, costs and other factors compared to both in-house builds and purchase of an account opening application. In considering their architecture, they classified some parts as enterprise assets, such as scanned versions of the executed trust documents that went into their into their FileNet enterprise content repository, versus line-of-business and business unit assets, such as specific process flows for account setup.

Using an iterative waterfall approach, they took a year to put their first pilot into production: it seems like they could have benefited from a more agile approach that would have seen incremental releases sooner, although this was seen as being fast compared to their standard SDLC. Considering that the system just went into production a couple of weeks ago, they don’t really know how many more iterations will be required – or how long each will take – to optimize this for the business. They were unable to use Pega’s Directly Capturing Objectives (DCO) methodology for requirements since it conflicted with their current standard for requirements; as he discussed their SLDC and standard approaches, it appears that they’re caught in the position of many companies, where they know that they should go agile, but just can’t align their current approach to that. The trick is, of course, that they have to get rid of their current approach, but I imagine that they’re still in denial about that.

Some of the lessons that they learned:

  • Break down complex processes and implement iteratively.
  • Strong business leadership accelerates implementation.
  • Track and manage deferred requirements, and have a protocol for making decisions on which to implement and which to defer.
  • Get something working and in the hands of the users as soon as possible.

The year that they took for their first release was 3-4 months longer than originally planned: although that doesn’t sound like much, consider it as a 30-40% schedule overrun. Combining that with the lesson that they learned about putting something into the users’ hands early, moving from an iterative waterfall to agile approach could likely help them significantly.

Their next steps include returning to their deferred requirements (I really hope that they re-validate them relative to the actual user experience with the first iteration, rather than just implementing them), expanding into other account opening areas in the bank, and leveraging more of the functionality in their enterprise content management system.

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