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Learning to Share

If all four audiences are going to collaborate, there's a need to avoid diagrammatic mayhem. By which I mean, for a particular process, recording every requirement of all four audiences in a single diagrammatic format would result in information overload. This would ultimately compromise everyone's ability to understand it, and each of the four audiences would quickly return to working in their silo.

So how can the four audiences learn to work together on a shared understanding of their business processes? The way most likely to make this succeed is to have a common denominator, and that should be a simple diagrammatic notation format which all four audiences can understand. Clearly that has to be the business ("green hat") view of process as that's 90% + of the audience, and all four stakeholder groups can understand it.

So how do we integrate the needs of the other three audiences (IT, Systems Providers and Risk & Compliance), into this simplified view of process? Their requirements can be overlaid on the business view of process, by using three techniques:

  • Attached information -- links to information (documents, forms, policies, work instructions) can be added to objects on a process diagram, without complicating the fundamental diagram with arcane shapes and clutter.

  • Cross reference links -- can be added between objects in the process model and corresponding technical systems (such as ERP system, workflow system, software configuration environment and so forth). These can if necessary be cross references between the business view of a process activity and the technical view of that activity from an automation perspective. For example, links to a technical process flow held in a process automation system.

  • Personalization -- by showing or hiding the attached information and links according to each user's needs via group membership, the diagrams remain simple, uncluttered and easily understood for the majority (business) audience, yet full featured for each of the other three audiences.

So, rather than the diagram appearing more complex it provides contextual access to extra information, and each audience can satisfy their requirements without compromise. The green hat perspective of process acts as the unifying hub and other process views and systems are connected to that, potentially providing the glue across more than one type of business process application. This approach will stop the power battle which seems to surface between business and IT in which both parties seem to assume that the process model is a single entity to be fought over.

What is critical is that the core business process model and connected information systems are managed in parallel, so that they stay synchronized. For example a green activity, such as Raise Invoice, needs to be related to a white activity Raise Invoice, and a blue SAP transaction VF01 -- Create Billing Document, and red control point Raise Invoice. Each group (white, blue, green and red) has a shared responsibility for keeping their elements up to date, with a software application automatically maintaining the cross linkages.

This puts stringent demands on any business process management application that is going to be able to manage potentially multiple models and cross linkages. In choosing a single application it may require some of the more detailed requirements of each group to be compromised, but there are some core requirements you'll need to insist on: ease of modeling, management of relationships, an auditable governance cycle, multiple views controlled by access rights and scalability to service all of your users -- potentially every employee and selected third parties.

Case study:
ING's Compliance Maturity Program Considers all Hats


ING South West Europe started a Compliance Maturity program in January 2008, with the objective of updating and improving the organization's compliance function and where necessary improving the approach and efficiency of Compliance Management through process automation. It was apparent that several compliance processes were very manual and resource intensive. As a consequence, new compliance regulations tended to result in increased head count in the compliance area. One area of concern was the huge increase in workload resulting from MiFID regulations, and ING urgently needed to address this in order to avoid problems with the Belgian regulator "CBFA."

The project aptly demonstrates the multiple "hats" or stakeholder perspectives for a business process management project:
1.The traders who use the system -- Green hats;

2.The compliance team -- who both used the system (as Green hats), but are also Red hats due to their need to demonstrate regulatory compliance;

3.The IT department -- White hats who had to sanction the new system; and

4.The need for a detailed technical specification to ensure all end user needs were met and that the project could be delivered to ING's deadline -- The Blue hat perspective.

A team of several regional Compliance Officers dealt with a wide variety of compliance issues, including a (manually executed) trade approval process known as 'Pre-Clearing.' With the implementation of MiFID in November 2007, regulatory changes relating to "Insider Trading" had resulted in an increase from 200 to 1,500 traders who must 'Pre-Clear' proposed trades. Existing ways of working no longer sufficed. There were inconsistencies in how different Compliance Officers worked. Manual intensive processes and an over reliance on e-mail meant that the process was not just inefficient, but impossible to report on from an audit perspective. Monitoring was impossible due to the fact that all data was stored locally in Compliance Officers' mailboxes or folders.

This was an ideal business process improvement project, lots of scope for improved ways of working many of which would no doubt involve process automation. But new software was out of the question, as ING's IT Department were already fully occupied on other projects. This therefore had to be a business led project and the Compliance Maturity Program Director decided that a software as a service approach was the ideal way to implement process improvement and automation without confronting the internal IT constraint. He engaged Nimbus, and their product Nimbus Control to help it address these issues.

The first step was an in-depth process definition workshop with several of the Compliance Officers and a facilitator from Nimbus capturing the required processes directly into the software application as a series of simple process diagrams. This was then enriched with extra details to record precise descriptions of required automation, compliance requirements and other issues. This ensured a shared common understanding of the process simple enough for the Compliance Officers to understand and sign-off, and rich enough for the developers and client sponsor to have confidence that the requirements were accurately understood and could be delivered against the pressing deadline. A technical specification was built from the process content, which after a couple of reviews with ING was handed to the development team who started work straight away.


The software development project was extremely fast, and due to the initial work done mapping the processes was 'right first time.' Compliance Officers now access application through a secure web based application. The process information captured at the outset remains an integral part of the solution and is accessible along with the application through a personalized portal which includes process descriptions, performance metrics and scorecards, providing a real time view of relevant process performance. Over 99% of trade requests are now dealt with automatically.

Feedback from the Program Director verified that by starting out with a clearly defined business process, communication was greatly improved between the development team, management and users. Also it was easier to determine the appropriate measures to focus on for the metrics and scorecards. The initial pilot was so popular, that additional users started signing-up before they were formerly invited to.


This business led approach, leveraging BPM software delivered as a service, has proven very successful for ING. A second process automation project, the "Insider Registration Process," has already been completed. The Pre-Clearing application is being rolled out across the whole SW Europe region. Several other banks are now taking a similarly business led approach to addressing their own process, compliance and risk management requirements in the face of rapidly changing regulatory compliance requirements.

The Final Word

So what are the conclusions or takeaways from this?

  • There are four audiences -- with different needs & perspectives.

  • Each audience needs to respect and accommodate all four views.

  • All four audiences need to collaborate and therefore need a common understanding of process and how they are modeled.

  • That common model may need some compromises but has to be understood by all four audiences. Therefore it has to use a language business (90% of the audience) will understand.

  • Governance and cross linkage capabilities are critical requirements or the four audiences will diverge.

This argues for one multifaceted process model, which links to related systems and information and supports all four audiences; but is grounded on a visualization of processes which business users can easily understand. If that's correct, it confirms why there's a 'B' in BPM.

So the next time you think that you are in a violent argument about BPM -- step back, look up and take a look at the hat the other person is wearing.

About the Author

Ian Gotts is the CEO of Nimbus, which develops Nimbus Control, a business process management software product. Before founding Nimbus, Gotts was an associate partner with Accenture. For more information on Nimbus, visit the company's Web site at www.nimbuspartners.com.

More by Ian Gotts



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