Repeat To Succeed

Why build from scratch when you can reuse proven processes? To ensure BPM success, design components you can use again and again throughout your organization.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 18, 2004

3 Min Read

All business units at American National design their processes at first in Visio. They're later ported to Pegasystems' BPM software. Like other BPM adopters, the company tries to have developers create process code in reusable chunks.

Build Once, Deploy Many

Process reuse is a perfect fit for ADP's Brokerage Processing Services division, which provides end-to-end processing services for 70 brokerage firms including Lehman Brothers and U.S. Warburg. The division processes about 1.5 million trades a day.

"As a service bureau, we build once and deploy to many," says Charles Marchesani, senior vice president of product development. "That's the magic of what we do because then we're able to leverage scale and development expense across multiple clients."

ADP created a new process for trade reconciliation using Tibco BPM (formerly Staffware Process Suite) that later proved useful for two new clients. The original customer was able to reduce staff by 30 percent in the first year and an additional 25 percent the second year by automating the formerly paper-intensive process. ADP expects the two new clients to achieve similar results.

Another application ADP developed monitors and manages margin calls. ADP worked with one of its largest clients to use the application as part of a margin process that other clients are now beta testing.

ADP has created specifications for four more processes it hopes to roll out over the next 18 months, and the company says the workflows will create better audit and control capability. "Everybody's talking about Sarbanes-Oxley — do you have the right controls in place and how are you monitoring to make sure you don't have risk?" says Marchesani. "One of the things [BPM] provides is an audit trail — a way to see where you're at and what's happening with your business at any point in time."

The Challenges of Reuse

When processes and process components are reused all over the company, in more than one context, you have to be very careful about changes. Nine out of 10 times a revision or update might be desirable, but for the 10th process, the change may not be beneficial.

"Now you have some synchronization issues to consider," says Gartner analyst Jim Sinur. "It's the same issue with any reuse, whether you're reusing components, objects, Web services, processes, subprocesses, rules or transactions. You have to consider all the context you're using. You're going to have to have more sophisticated management techniques."

At ADP, managing rules within processes customized for different clients is indeed a challenge. "You have to spend the majority of your time with your user population, trying to understand how [it likes] to do things," Marchesani says. The company has to set up rules as a series of parameters among which clients can choose. "It's been a challenge to make sure we've captured all the business rules and applied them appropriately across a diverse set of clients."

One client, for instance, wanted to segregate all New York Stock Exchange transactions and assign them to one set of users, and send over-the-counter trades to another set of users. The next client wanted to separate NYSE trades and attach different broker IDs to them. ADP set up a series of filters that accommodates customized rules in the back end.

The solution to better reuse may be found in rules engines. "Today the rules engine is a component of the process, tomorrow it could govern it," says Sinur of Gartner. "In the future the rules or the policies might run the processes, instead of the processes being guided slightly by rules." Along with that, companies will need to make new rules about who owns which processes and who can change the rules or upgrade the processes. Organizational change and process centers of excellence will help drive this new order of business process efficiency.

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