BPM: Banking on success

There are a number of challenges when implementing BPM in the banking industry

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BPM: Banking on success Implementing BPM in financial services can be a challenge (ITP Images)
By  Siddhartha Khare Published  April 7, 2011

Success in the banking industry can be tough without a Business Process Management (BPM) strategy which effectively aligns systems and processes with business objectives.

BPM offers a bird's eye view of the organisation, bringing together business activities or processes, with people and information. This is not only limited to the organisation's internal mechanics but also includes customers, suppliers, partners and other stakeholders in the banking ecosystem.

The past few years have seen a significant rise in the number of banks that have realized the value in investing in BPM solutions to execute and monitor their business processes. It's never too late for banks to adopt BPM, but the decision to do so can sometimes be met with hesitation stemming from a lack of clarity in its uses and benefits.

Essentially, BPM solutions help provide a holistic view of a bank's operations and help to cut cost in the long run by boosting efficiency and enhancing customer service. And how does it do this? By recognising areas that can automated and reducing the time needed to complete a business process, as well as bringing down the number of errors involved in completing an activity.

Perhaps the most important benefit BPM is seen to offer, given the nature of today's economy and increasing regulations, is that it provides a stable flexibility to adapt to change.

How does a bank go about implementing a BPM strategy? Initially, it starts with identifying its needs. This might seem easy enough but in reality involves in-depth research on specific processes that currently exist and the related owners of those processes. A process includes both system and human interactions - any activity taken in order to realise a business function, such as credit card issuance, payroll, loans, online banking, sales and marketing, etc.

Next, a bank will decide on application requirements, which simultaneously help in realising business priorities of the organisation. By doing this, banks understand the core demands a BPM system should deliver on and decide whether to choose a ready-to-deploy BPM solution that best fits their needs or opt for a custom solution, tailored exactly to specification. There's no shortage of solutions available through the best players in the BPM field, such as IBM's BPM Suite, and successful automation can be seen in banks that choose either a 'packaged' or a customised solution. The key is finding a solution that is the best fit.

Business process management can get fairly complex depending on the banking institution and a good solution is often the difference between greater effectiveness and chaos while deciding what to automate.

Through it all, there needs to be a focus on return on investment because, while BPM is a necessary investment considering today's economy, cost, time and effort are key factors that influence the ever-important bottom line.

Often there is a fear that using BPM will result in employees being made redundant but it's rather a case of finding out where there is an abundance of skills and then streamlining process orchestration. For example, there might be other departments that need more attention and support, like call centres. Significantly, BPM often helps expose the need for further training in order to make best use of human resources.

At Gulf Business Machines, we have already helped a number of the region's leading banks and financial institutions turn to BPM solutions. This has allowed them to make the most of their resources in order to increase efficiency and gain a competitive edge. BPM is truly enabling their success.

Siddhartha Khare is WebSphere sales manager, Gulf region, Gulf Business Machines

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