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BPM Transforms Financial Services: A Talk With John Jarrett

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Editor's Note: Interested in how BPM was able to transform a staid industry like financial services, then make sure you check out the webinar, BPM for Financial Services.

What follows is my podcast with John Jarrett, Director of BPM for AGF Trust. John Jarrett has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry across retail banking and head office environments, and for the past 18 months, John has led AGF's Trust project to launch BPM into the organization. In this podcast we discuss BPM in the financial services sector and also introduce Appian's upcoming Webinar, BPM for Financial Services.

Listen to or download the 6:44 minute podcast below:

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So first of all, can you tell me why BPM is a good fit for financial services?

Well, financial services is a bit of staid old industry but at the same time is under a lot of pressure competitive wise and regulatory wise. BPM allows you to be able to deal with both simultaneously. You're able through BPM to get a better level of documentation and control over your processes.

This allows you to be able to repeat your processes with some confidence and as well, you are able to show auditors what your processes are with a greater degree confidence. So these translate into being able to better show what your risks and issues are regarding things such as Sarbanes Oxley, etc. And as well, allows you to be able to more flexibly deal with training, documentation, procedures, and manuals.

So I hear you mention business processes. Now, what exactly made you change your approach to business processes?

Well, we did have a bit of a unique issue and opportunity in our case. There were two real drivers that were simultaneously driving us to this need. One, our parent company had divested their back office to an outsourced relationship and we were leveraging and imaging a workflow tool in that platform and as a result of the divestiture, we needed to revisit getting that tool replaced or updated.

That said, at the same time, we also found that our old system while it was beneficial to us when we started, we'd kind of outgrown it and the pains around having had it customized primarily for mutual fund processing were becoming quite apparent that that didn't necessarily really work very well for loan processing. So those two items kind of came together to drive us to look for a BPM solution.

So in looking for your BPM solution, what were your key objectives in choosing one?

Well, the key objectives we had were flexibility. We're in a fairly high growth mode and a fairly dynamic environment here and so we were looking for a system that would allow us to have some flexibility. That though had to come with a strong degree of business involvement.

We didn't want to have to have a high degree of dependence on either the vendor for an ongoing professional services relationship nor on our on internal IT shop to constantly have to fight in the organization for that shared resource so we wanted something that would have a strong business involvement as well.

So what BPM initiatives have you then put in place?

What we were first looking to put in place was a 'like for like' as we refer to it transition from our old platform to our new. So the initial go around was to put on our loan processing business. We had a small home equity line of credit business that we were doing on the old system as well as a GIC booking process. So the initial translation from the old system to the new system were just those lines of businesses.

So what has your return on the investment been?

Oh, good question. However, I don't have very good answers for you, unfortunately, that's just a bit of a squishy area for us as it is. Partly, because we've started off as such a small trust company and have been in rapid growth mode. We don't really have good foundation of data. Its shifting sands really type of thing and it's difficult for us to measure or be able to speak to it in those sort of specific points of reference.

And also, it's still quite early. We've just really gone live with the Appian System in April. So for those two reason, that's a little bit difficult. But what I can tell you is that the user community have spoken back with high praise on how much easier it appears to be doing the same things that they were more or less doing before.

And although we did talk earlier about doing this on liked for liked basis, we did take the opportunity where there were some low hanging fruit to be able to make some minor process improvements. And the extend to which those have sped up some the cycle times, or reduced some of the touches, and some of the back and forth things that used to occur in our old system, we can already see that we're going to be able to get some headcount relief and some throughput speed increases from the system.

That sounds great. Now, what are your future plans for BPM?

Well, we plan to bring our arrears management area onto the platform in the fall. We're looking at also brining our mortgage area into the platform in '09, and then throughout the coming months and next year, reengineering a lot of the processes in the loan and GIC business.

Again, sometimes the processes were what they were because they needed to be that way for the business. But in other cases, the processes were what they were because of issues or limitations within the system and what we want to try to do is adjust both how the business the works as well as get around what some of those old obstacles were in the past and do some re-engineering.

We also want to use it as a communication platform for the organization when we're doing announcements, updates, staff homepage, that type of thing so essentially, an enterprise wide sort of an application.

That sounds great. Also, don't forget the upcoming Webinar from Appian, BPM for Financial Services, where John will be a speaker. And if you do have any questions, please send an email of your question to curriulum@ebizq.net and we'll make sure to address it during the webinar.

ebizQ’s expert blog team covers a broad range of BPM, business integration, business analytics/monitoring, collaboration, content and related issues.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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