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BPM fosters responsiveness, growth and compliance

This article appears in the issue May 2014, [Volume 23, Issue 5]
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Business process management (BPM) is providing knowledge management and other efficiencies for companies in construction, insurance and a variety of industries.

Officials at Vulcan Materials, a large producer of construction aggregates and a major asphalt and concrete producer, understood that they needed to change their business systems to be more efficient. But even after installing initial automation and centralizing a number of processes, some of the company’s employees were still moving paper from place to place, says Patrick McLendon, senior manager of systems and programming for Vulcan Materials.

The first attempt to eliminate the paper shuffle was with Microsoft SharePoint, but it proved to be too cumbersome, according to McLendon. “The more we added to it, the uglier it got.” So in 2012, the company looked at business process management vendors. McLendon’s team started with 13 vendors and selected five for extensive demos.

“Some of the vendors had a lot of bells and whistles, but we’re not trying to build a nuclear reactor,” McLendon says. “We gave vendors a hypothetical case, looking at how each offering performed in terms of responsiveness, automation and tracking capabilities, and ease of use.”

A good fit

Among the critical factors was whether business analysts could work directly with the BPM solution or if a technician would need to be brought in for programming. McLendon and his team were already familiar with Process Director from BP Logix, and chose the solution because it provided the customer management, security and other capabilities the company wanted without providing, and charging for, unnecessary features.

Another important capability was that BP Logix integrated easily into the legacy Oracle e-business suite. The BPM solution enables the company to automate forms and workflows, as well as to monitor what is happening with different processes, providing critical information about bottlenecks and an audit trail that allows Vulcan to distribute work more efficiently among its 3,500 employees.

Vulcan started using the solution in the middle of 2012, and has moved five processes to BP Logix. As a result of the automation of those processes, McLendon says that over a five-year period, Vulcan expects a net savings of $510,000 due to lower capital costs as well as savings on salaries, software, servers and related expenses. “It’s been a good fit for us. The software does the job that it’s supposed to do,” McLendon says.

He estimates that as many as 50 processes could eventually be migrated to the Process Director platform, with a significant savings to the company for each one.

Providing efficiency for growth

Marketform is a London-based specialist Lloyd’s underwriter focused on casualty, specialty and marine insurance. The company started looking at some aggressive growth targets a couple of years ago, but officials knew that existing business processes needed to be streamlined to achieve their objectives, according to Daniel Blackwell, the company’s applications manager, and Murray Macdonald, senior developer.

“We have different teams selling different types of insurance, each following a slightly different underwriting process. We needed to standardize the process,” Blackwell explains.

Standardizing would ensure business process consistency that would satisfy both the company and regulators, Macdonald adds. Centralizing those standard business processes would further enable the company to scale for growth.

The company had been using blackpearl from K2 for several years for some smaller business process management applications, and decided to deploy it enterprisewide because of satisfaction with both the software and the service. “It matched our available resources internally and across the market,” Macdonald says.

The solution took six months to develop and install across the enterprise. K2 blackpearl, SharePoint document management, the main underwriting line of the business system and e-mail were integrated to provide Marketform with the benefits it was seeking. Blackwell says, “This is the first time we have a holistic view in a single system, which means we have a lot of happy people.”

Now the BPM solution serves as the center of the users’ business day. They arrive in the morning, open up the K2 blackpearl-based solution and use it to undertake their daily tasks. With business processes now centralized, managers have better knowledge and control of their work and that of their teams, according to Blackwell.

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