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We are at a point of time in the current evolution of the insurance industry where we need to consider the near and long term role of BPM. It's been around in form or another for well over a decade, enjoying a periodic surge in interest, and then fading into the background once again. Is BPM an overly complex solution in search of an actual problem? Or has it's time finally come?

Let's take a step back and examine the state of the industry on the recovery side of the recession. The three basic business articles of faith are still in place - expenses need to be managed downward, consistently profitable results need to be recaptured, and organic growth resumed. For the latter, that is driven by agents and insureds demanding new and appropriate coverages, and realistic and predictable pricing.

One further critical factor in all of this is increasing pressure on carriers to make business changes faster, and make it easier for both insureds and agents to do business with carriers.

BPM can address all of these issues, though many in the industry have had their doubts. That previous lack of success with BPM may be due to the failure to fully embrace and exploit what BPM can do.

Next, let's pause to establish a view of what BPM is. For our purposes here, we've separated it into two aspects:

  • Business Process Management (BPM): improving the human process through knowledge transfer and/or behavior modification; may or may not be assisted by BPMS
  • Business Process Management Systems (BPMS): improving the human processes through automation
  • In the late '90s and early part of this decade, BPM as defined above was often referred to as "process re-engineering" terminology and activity that quickly fell into disfavor when it often failed to produce hoped-for results.

    A parallel way to look at BPM/BPMS is to consider the three most commonly considered aspects:

  • Human-centric which focuses on people and tasks
  • Integration-centric which focuses on complex integration scenarios
  • Document-centric which focuses on images, e-forms, and document handling
  • It's worth noting here that content -- typically in the form of ECM -- drives BPM in document-centric environment.

    The human-centric aspect is most often the "BPM" portion of the overall tool, while the integration and document-centric aspects constitute the "BPMS" portion. The business processes are the link between the two.


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