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BPM evolution brings automation, integration and analysis

This article appears in the issue January 2007 [Volume 16, Issue 1]
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Evolving business process management (BPM) capabilities are improving process automation, allowing deeper integration with Microsoft Office, and offering a better understanding of process efficiency through use of business intelligence (BI).

More than a year ago, Maritz Travel began a value stream analysis program to examine how the company could take a holistic approach to building its next-generation capabilities in the marketplace. "We certainly wanted to drive organizational efficiency," says Rich Phillips, COO of Maritz Travel, "but more importantly, we wanted to tie our enhanced service delivery capabilities into the value proposition we provide to the customer."

Maritz offers services for corporate meetings, events and incentive travel, and has an array of subject matter experts who can provide background information on a wide variety of topics. In addition, it provides specialized services for pharmaceutical product launches, technology user conferences, automotive dealer meetings and incentive programs as well as sales management meetings. To maintain its high level of customer satisfaction, Maritz must understand the client's objective for each event.

In April 2006, Maritz purchased TeamWorks, the BPM product offered by Lombardi Software and by July, the first version of the system was deployed. Maritz worked closely with its customers during the development phase, because TeamWorks would be directly supporting service delivery.

"We recognize the value of BPM in back-office functions, but our primary focus is always on improving service delivery, both for the client and their valued participants," says Phillips. Maritz sometimes uses TeamWorks directly with the client to map out the best process for achieving event objectives.

Near-term release enhancements include "compliance management" functions to deliver process integrity around specific client program policies. For example, for clients desiring that service level, some program e-mails will be automatically populated with key information from TeamWorks for specific program and participant information. E-mail and fax responses will also be managed as a "process event" to more tightly couple program activities and process governance. As a future release, customers will be able to see cycle times, approvals and awareness based on visibility into the managed process.

The initial release of the system at Maritz uses a browser interface; however, Maritz is currently developing capabilities using Lombardi for Office. "We see the value of connecting through Outlook as a way to expand the managed process envelope," says Phillips. "We decided to purchase the Outlook interface right out of the gate—it was a key negotiating point."

With the interface, Maritz will be able to allow low-frequency users and those outside the controlled Lombardi domain to interact directly with the system and capitalize on the functionality provided through the Maritz TeamWorks system.

Lombardi for Office was a strategy to fully engage the 98 percent of people who are not in the IT department, according to Rod Favaron, president and CEO of Lombardi. "Our tools are focused on the view of BPM from the usability perspective," Favaron explains. "Moreover, a lot of large customers are moving away from the approach of log in to an application or portal, and want to bring work to the workers."

The ability to move work and decisions, analysis and reports right to the desktop was one of the objectives of developing the Outlook connection. "Our customers were telling us that they live on the desktop, and applications such as Microsoft's InfoPath let them do sophisticated forms right on the desktop, so the strategy offers the best of both worlds," Favaron says.

Dealing with volume

CSAA Irvine provides automobile insurance as part of AAA in California. Its rapidly increasing volume of business was stretching its custom designed application from Global 360, in place since 1997, to the point where performance levels were suffering. In addition to straining capacity, the existing system was limited by its dependence on Microsoft Exchange and a set of custom code that was hard to modify. CSAA decided to upgrade to Global 360's G360 Enterprise with the G360 WorkDesk solution set in 2005.

The upgrade allowed a significant increase in automation. Incoming faxes are immediately converted to digital images using GFI Faxmaker, which are converted to e-mails with the image as an attachment. The indexing information from the fax is extracted and placed in the subject line of the e-mail, which is then imported by an intelligent robot into G360 Workdesk and routed to the appropriate queue for processing.

"Before the new system was deployed," says Joan Liu, IT supervisor for imaging and workflow, "we had a staff who manually dragged and dropped images from the mailbox into the G360 WorkDesk process manager."

The attached documents include forms from auto rental companies with which CSAA partners, estimates from body shops and reports from investigative companies. The new system also supports offices in Nevada and Colorado, in addition to the main office in Irvine, Calif., a capability that was lacking in the earlier implementation. Supporting documents for underwriting and claims can also be

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