Business Process Is Not An Option

Back in the 1990’s computer based Business Process Modeling was really becoming popular, with process automation hot on its heels. Large organizations recognized that in order to scale up to meet future demand, they needed to be able to handle repetitive form-based work consistently, quickly and simply. Massive budgets were spent regularly on projects to automate the processes. Process optimization became the core aim, and was supported with business simulation.

Fast forward 20 years, to today, and many more businesses are involved in modeling and automating their processes. The cost to implement these processes has naturally reduced, largely through the abundance of lower cost software tools and server hardware, but the cost to design and architect them is still not low, and the risk of a project failure due to bad design is still high. When this is coupled with the fact that business models are changing faster and faster, what could have been a great process two years ago, could be invalidated as the rules of the game just changed.

Take a look at the telecoms industry, specifically mobile phone stores. Starting out with a small selection of devices and contracts, that covered calls and text messages, it has rapidly moved to many devices, contracts that blend devices and services, multiple network options, and the addition of data tariffs. Each week new phones are released, and deals are changing. The process of making a sale is always in a state of flux, and the staff needs to be tuned into the latest methods, instantly; all this across thousands of stores nationwide. It is clear that process is not an option, it is essential. But if process is so expensive to build, and so easy to become outdated, how can a business stay ahead?

Process modeling and automation are shifting emphasis. No longer is it all about the efficiency of the process, but now it is more about how rapidly a process can adjust to environmental changes. Process agility and its ability to transform business agility is now crucial to enable organizations to stay relevant, amongst a sea of startups, that can bring new technology and fresh thinking to create disruption.

So we need to build our processes to be agile, meaning our documentation will always be out of date? Right? Well agile gets a good deal of bad press with regards to documentation. Lean documentation means just enough, not none. Going back to our phone shops, if there were no documentation, then the stores would have no idea what they were selling, or how to sell. More than ever, processes are becoming the core documentation for business. Where a process could have lived for years, and been handed down to new staff, or automated, now the lifecycle of a process could be months or even weeks. Keeping teams up to date is a real communication challenge.

So enter stage left ‘eBPA’ or Enterprise Business Process Analysis. The ivory towers of the 90s are gone, and social has become king. Democracy is invading the world of the process modelers, and everyone is an expert. Gartner speaks of eBPA as “Business Process Analysis for the masses” and is providing thought leadership, as businesses need to envision a world where process is a living entity. In order to adapt and survive it is essential to build collaboration into process design, and it is by involving the wider organization that innovation can really thrive.

But many organizations have tried social technology and seen it offer little value. It is true that social without a goal can just be chaos, and indeed marrying social technology with process design will not turn everyone into a process expert. But by building a framework that allows others to collaborate, with clear aims, it is possible to encourage and nurture a collective intelligence that can truly make a difference.

In conclusion, think about your processes differently, they are unlikely to remain the same next year, and may change next week. Make them visible and available, and use technology to allow the widest group possible to write on them, make suggestions, or highlight difficulties. Spend time to manage the feedback, and use this to drive innovation. But most importantly build processes modularly, so that they can adapt to change.

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Visio: Our Best Enemy!

The Microsoft Office Suite is undeniably the prevailing standard in the vast majority of companies across North America and Europe. The added value offered by this software suite is a proven entity, and VisioTM has become a safe bet when it comes to equipping a variety of users for their conceptualization initiatives. So much so that nowadays, most large companies have inherited, probably like you have, a large amount of legacy VisioTM files. However, some limiting factors of this approach can put the brakes on organizations striving to reach their strategic objectives.

In this regard, we have identified two complementary processes for improvement:

-          Countless sources of information are not valued and used the way they could be

-          The benefits of this production made by modeling experts are far from used in an optimal way

That said, the answers to this need for improvement are quite limited in number and unclear. The main approach in the market is the “steamroller” one that consists of putting away your VisioTM licenses and force your users into deeply changing their habits to equip themselves with new and more structured solutions. This approach may work if it is accompanied by the right level of investment and if the maturity level is already there!

The approach we propose tends to go in the opposite direction of the “Big Bang” method for several fundamental reasons:

-          Capitalizing on existing information cannot be summarized in a simple import of data since the drawings become normalized models that use multidimensional objects.

-          Reusing the vocabulary and graphical norms integrated into VisioTM is clearly the preferred way to ease the transition path

-          The inventory and analysis of VisioTM users enable to identify several kinds of profiles: some are occasional users, and others are real modeling aficionados. It then becomes essential to provide them with tools that are adapted to their use and expectations.

Finally, to make a proper transition between a tactical project-based approach towards a perennial enterprise initiative, the company has to rely on its culture and vision. This initiative needs to scrupulously follow an iterative method that is focused on reaching tangible results as soon as during the first weeks!

These few lines really tend to give the perception that VisioTM has become our best enemy. And as with any strategic enemy, we need to deal with it and learn to work around it or conquer it.

To illustrate this observation, we invite you to have a look at a concrete demonstration in the video below. It will probably shed some light on the answers that Casewise has to offer in this specific situation.

Watch the demonstration: Visio Our Best Enemy!

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Seven Lessons to Help Your Business Last

Dear young companies,

Well, we’ve made it!

This year, Casewise has joined the “25-years-in-business” club.

You’ve probably read that 9 out of 10 businesses fail, but we’ve beaten the odds. And we’re holding our heads high next to some pretty impressive, founded-in-the-80’s, organizations – Adobe Systems, Cisco, Electronic Arts and Autodesk to name a few.

Over 25 years we’ve grown into a company that’s helping over 3,000 clients in eight countries optimize their business operations. In fact, we’ve been in business longer than the majority of our competitors.

So, as we approach our anniversary date, we began assessing our accomplishments and experiences along the way. What have we learned over the past 25 years? And, more importantly, what pieces of advice can we offer to young companies hoping to reach the quarter-century mark?

Here’s where we netted out, and here’s to adding to this post in another 25 years!

Get Clear on Your Mission

You must be able to communicate your mission in a single sentence, and it must get heads nodding. For Casewise, it’s about helping businesses make better strategic decisions by offering a 360-degree view of your company through analyzing hard data and human behavior. It’s a mission that communicates value to our customers, but also drives our company culture: “When You Can See More, You Can Do More”

Evolve Your Execution

Your mission may stay the same over the years, but your execution must change with the times. In our case, we’ve evolved from a company that developed the first software to graphically represent business processes in the 1990s, to a collaborative enterprise architecture tool in the 2000’s, and finally, to a social, web-based communication platform that includes integrated social media tools today.

Pay Attention to the Trends

Speaking of social media, to be successful in business you must stay ahead of the trends. Read voraciously and pay attention to the tools and processes that are becoming popular in everyday life. Our latest platform (Evolve) was developed because we realized that social media and gamification tools are here to stay and that they are a great way to involve all levels of an organization in strategic planning.

The Right Product-Market Fit Takes Time

According to the American entrepreneur and investor, Marc Andreessen, product-market fit can be defined as “being in a good market, with a product that can satisfy that market.” Yet what many companies don’t realize is that finding product-market fit can take time – often between 6 to 12 months. It also takes energy and devotion to test your idea with real people. At Casewise we continuously test new products with existing customers before launching the product to the world.

Don’t Ignore Your Biggest Asset

One of the biggest mistakes we see our clients make, is making strategic decisions solely based on data, while ignoring their biggest asset: their people. Keep in mind that there are two types of intelligence: business intelligence and emotional intelligence, and that it’s only by combining the two that you’ll make the best strategic decisions.

User Experience is Key

You may have the best tech team in the world, but your solution is only as good as the experience your customers have with it. So as soon as you can, test your products with real people, get their reactions, and use this information to improve the user experience and ultimately increase the adoption rate of your product.

And Finally, Have Fun!

Running a company can be taxing so just remember – look up once in a while, take stock of how far you have come, and make sure to reward your employees for all their hard work.

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Using social tools to help enterprise architecture projects succeed

Authored by Alexandre Wentzo, Casewise CEO.

How can enterprise architects use social technology software to improve efficiency?

In 2010, Rotterdam University released a shocking statistic: Two-thirds of enterprise architecture projects fail.

Having been in the enterprise architecture (EA) business for more than 10 years, it’s easy for me to pinpoint a number of reasons why this is happening:

EA teams often work in silos and can find it difficult to implement strategies across multiple business units.
Stakeholders can lose interest in EA objectives, quickly returning to old habits, resulting in zero change.
Compliance with the principles established by EA teams often goes unmonitored.
Feedback and suggestions on EA initiatives are often gathered from only one set of stakeholders (usually the C-suite) rather than across the entire workforce.
In other words, many times the problem is not in the EA’s strategy, it’s in the communication breakdown that occurs when the plan is implemented and monitored over time.

This is where social technology software can help.

Organizations have already realized that not becoming a social enterprise is detrimental to business — a sentiment that is echoed by Gartner Inc., which in 2012 stated, “by 2014, refusing to communicate with customers via social channels will be as harmful as ignoring emails or phone calls is today.”

Now it’s time for enterprise architects to integrate social tools into their workflow. Not only will it improve efficiency, it’s also likely to remedy many of the communication problems we face when implementing EA initiatives.

In summary, make sure that your enterprise architecture software includes (at the very least) the following social tools:

User profiles: By requiring user logins, EAs can control who sees what. In addition, profiles can help EA’s identify “super contributors” that may become important organizational champions during the lifetime of the project.

Commenting: Gathering detailed feedback in person can be time consuming. Built-in commenting tools are easy to use, capture institutional knowledge and allow a cross-section of the organization to provide feedback at their leisure.

Surveys: A natural extension of commenting, digital surveys are easy for stakeholders to fill out, and they also allow EAs to gather more detailed feedback on the project or key decisions.

Ratings: Five-star ratings are a quick way for stakeholders to approve (or disapprove) an aspect of the strategy. The best tools on the market also aggregate the ratings so that EAs can quickly ascertain an overall sentiment.

Favorites/Bookmarks: By allowing stakeholders to bookmark or pinpoint favorite content, the user experience and trust in the EA initiative is improved.

Always-on communication: Stakeholders losing interest in an EA initiative is a problem that all enterprise architects have faced. A centralized communication platform helps EAs stay connected with stakeholders so that all parties are guaranteed to have up-to-date information on progress and changes.

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How to avoid “boiling point”

Authored by Jean-Patrick Ascenci, Head of Casewise Canada

Sometimes it can be quite difficult to explain the work that companies like Casewise undertake on a daily basis. But every so often, a real life example comes to light which demonstrates the very importance of having sufficient processes and mapping firmly rooted within an organisation.

Making the news recently was the Montreal water crisis, in which a water treatment plant in Atwater started to distribute discoloured water to thousands of Montrealers – and resulted in the largest boil-water advisory the city has ever experienced, a 36 hour ordeal that affected upwards of 1.3 million residents.

Of course, in life, mistakes happen. What is important is not just how you deal with them, but also how effective the preventative measures are that support a company in the event of an emergency or crisis. Throughout the 36 hour advisory, the Department of Water repeatedly referred to the “sequence” of events that had occurred. But with widespread panic, a mix of information delivered to residents and poor communication on the behalf of officials – one has to wonder how robust that sequence really was.

As Montrealers across the Canada reached “boiling” point, our analysts got to thinking about how this situation could have been dealt with if it had been left in the hands of a company like Casewise. A series of questions arose:

o Had Atwater conducted a detailed analysis of the impact of such a crisis beforehand?
o Is there a continuity plan in place which was not delivered to the citizens of Montreal?
o From a general point of view, do they have a map of their processes?

From an organisational perspective, the situation was handled disastrously – which can, in part, be attributed to a lack of foresight, planning and visibility within the organisation. For example, what was the trigger for the boil-water alert, and why did it reach different people at different times? Why was it then extended further afield? Were they unaware of the mapping of the water delivery system and therefore the scale of the issue – and most importantly, why was this overlooked?

Essentially, a structured and well-maintained process which looked at the outcomes before, during and after such a crisis would have made the entire crisis less so – and would have allowed those affected to sit down with a well-deserved (and safe) cup of coffee as soon as the problem was fixed.

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A focus on customer care

Authored by Mark Harris – Head of Customer Care at Casewise

In times gone by, it used to be that customer service was at the forefront of every successful business. Localised trading meant that people dealt with each other on a first-name basis and knew each other’s businesses in a similarly personable fashion. Then the world changed – global trading became an essential part of a successful enterprise – and that personal touch often got lost along the way.

Instead of visiting a store, orders would come in on a faceless piece of paper, an email or telephone call. That priceless emphasis on customer service was lost, and along with it a huge opportunity. Fast forward a few more years and businesses are slowly coming around to the importance of this more personable form of contact, with even the largest corporations investing heavily in social media to promote their own personalities – or spending hours refining their brand’s specific message and character. So why is it important for successful businesses to provide not just a product, but a service – and what’s more, how can it be achieved?

One of the first mistakes organisations make when trying to improve customer care is a failure to create a company culture which is 100 per cent aligned – from the service desk to the C-Suite. Many businesses quite rightly direct immediate attention straight to the service desk when resolving to improve customer service; pumping lots of resource into that all-important first line of defence.

However, it is important to remember that no-matter how well trained your help desk staff are, all of this good work can be quickly undone by a poorly trained employee who happens to sit slightly higher in the ranks. A feckless email or ill-timed sales pitch can undo months of groundwork in seconds, often inducing huge implications. Fostering a successful culture of customer care which is focussed on providing excellent service is not a quick process, often requiring a hearty investment of both time and enthusiasm from many different departments – all the way up to the CEO.

Another common error is the business which falls into the trap of simply providing ‘reactive’ customer care – essentially waiting until a customer has been negatively affected before putting measures in place to resolve the situation. In truth, pre-empting issues is not all that difficult if the right people are in place to flag up any potential issues – a mismatch of software for example, or a license which is too small to serve the needs of a larger organisation. It sounds like common sense, but if simple information such as this isn’t routinely shared throughout a business, serious problems often arise from completely avoidable situations.

Similarly, the way in which customers’ needs are prioritised can also be a stumbling block. An effective reporting system can help here – categorising a customer’s need from a slight inconvenience up to the more critical problems which cause a serious issue. This method allows those in most need to have their issues resolved quickly, minimising any ill-feeling and directing resource to where it is most urgently required.

Essentially, one of the most important mantras an organisation must embrace to really deliver excellent customer care is that giving an answer is not the same as giving a solution – especially when dealing with complex issues or services. Much of this discrepancy can be alleviated with the introduction of regular face-to-face meetings; the most tried and tested way to instil a sense of trust and understanding among a customer base. Simply knowing the best person to call when an issue arises instantly alleviates an element of stress for a worried client – and in the event that something serious does happen, a valued customer is far less likely to take their business elsewhere. Disgruntled mumblings will often come to nothing if a complaint is handled well – but even the strongest of relationships can fray if handled badly. Taking control early, setting a clear action plan and maintaining personable updates should prevent any retention figures from taking a bashing.

There is no doubt that the business world is moving at an unstoppable pace, but certain values will always ring true – often the simplest ones. As the old adage goes, look after your customers and they will look after you. Customer retention is the easiest business objective to achieve if you have the right skills in your workforce – but without them it is the fastest to disappear.

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Casewise Integrated Modeler Webinar Q&A

On July 26th Casewise teamed up with Computer Associates (CA) to produce a webinar about our latest product, Casewise Integrated Modeler – powered by CA ERwin®.

The webinar covered a range of topics concerning the new product – but just in case you missed it, you can find a summary of the key information below.

If you would like to review the full presentation, there is a link for you to watch the recorded playback here.

Casewise Integrated Modeler Webinar Q&A

Is the diagram layout maintained via the Toolbus?
Yes – During the conversion to Corporate Modeler, users will have options to choose how the connectors should be laid out – i.e. straight or bent. Once the diagram is opened in Casewise, it is very similar to how it originally looked in ERwin.

How does an update in one tool affect the others?
Using the Unique ID’s (UIDs) we are able to control what objects get updated in both ERwin and Casewise. Since we match on UIDs, there are never duplicate objects created and only the matching objects are updated.

Is there a possible means for synchronization?
Currently it works via XML import/export (as described above) but Casewise is working on a synchronized interchange which will not require import/export.

Is BPMN 2.0 supported?
Yes. The BPMN 2.0 template is provided within Corporate Modeler.

You can attach documents in a User Defined Property (UDP) … will the attached documents be exported when the data model is exported?
A UDP simply has a link property and does not actually embed the file within ERwin. Once the UDP comes over into Corporate Modeler, the link is maintained, but the file stays where it originally resided. If you are going to transfer objects back and forth with file links, ensure that your file is stored in a shared location (like a document management system) and you can access it easily.

Can you give more information about the XML format for exchange? Can it be used for other modeling tools compatible with ERwin?
The link we discussed is called TOOLBUS and it was developed specifically for the Casewise/ERwin interchange. ERwin has other generic XML links available and information about this is available on Erwin.com.

What version of Casewise is needed?
2009.2 and above.

Can you make changes to the data model in Casewise and send that back to ERwin?
Yes absolutely – changes/additions can be made in either ERwin or Corporate Modeler and they are brought over to the other tool seamlessly.

How flexible is Casewise Modeler? Can we add additional objects to the Metamodel? Is it easy?
Casewise has as fully extensible repository and it is very easy to create your own user-defined objects, properties and associations. It’s all done via an intuitive GUI (no coding).

Casewise Integrated Modeler licensing – what are my choices?
Casewise Integrated Modeler is offered in Stand Alone, Workgroup and Concurrent license options.

I think you said you could generate database DDL code from ERwin? Can you do that for any database platform, for example Teradata?
Yes absolutely. A benefit of ERwin is that we generate DDL on multiple platforms, and can easily switch between them.

In ERwin, can you generate ALTER scripts?
Users can generate ALTER scripts, so that only the changes need to be populated on the database. For example, in your example when you add a column in Casewise, when you go back into ERwin and want to create that column on the database, you can generate an ALTER script so just the column is added—i.e. you don’t need to regenerate the entire script.

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(Français) Club Utilisateur de Casewise

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IT mapping and processing – insights from the French Users Club

After much planning and preparation, the 31st edition of the French Users Club was a huge success – welcoming over 30 customers including Agence Francaise de Développement, Atos, Conforama Management Services, Congés Intempéries BTP – Union des Caisses de France, GEFCO, GMF Vie, Mairie de Niort, Radio France, and Ubisoft.

An action-packed agenda was well-received by the attendees, with a particular highlight courtesy of Mr Olivier Gosselin, IT infrastructure director at Conseil Général du Vaucluse. During his presentation he discussed his IT city mapping project, which was initiated by an IT recovery planning issue. Mr Gosselin explained that the decision to use Casewise was made due to its excellent functionalities, pertinence and well-matched ergonomics – a list of qualities which the audience found very useful.

Another presentation which went down well with the audience was that of Alain-Pierre Cordier, Transverse Organisation Manager for Swiss Life. Mr Cordier highlighted the fact that process was at the very heart of the strategic transformation of Swiss Life, underlining the importance of Casewise’s influence within businesses.

The day was wrapped up with demonstrations designed to illustrate the benefits of two leading Casewise products – Communicator4word (C4W) and Casewise Synergy. The demos concluded with a special 40% C4W discount for all Users Club members until mid-September 2013, a great way for members to experiment with new products and solutions.

To take advantage of similar offers, why not join the growing community of Users Club members enabling you to share the best practices from the market, take part in the evolution of Casewise and learn about our portfolio of products?

The next Users Club will be on October 17th 2013, in Paris. Join us to find out more!

For further information please contact: Marketing.fr@casewise.com

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Helping the eagle to soar

The legal sector is evolving like never before. The need to maximise revenue per professional is now the number one aim for most law firms, as the sector adapts to an ever-changing economic and regulatory landscape, writes Salim Hashamy, UK Account Manager, Casewise.

The rationalisation of the sector has brought with it a wave of mergers and acquisitions as law firms move to consolidate their existing customer base, and expand their offering to new customers. This process brings with it the need to acquiesce and combine two – often different – sets of working cultures and processes in the most transparent way possible.

On top of this, new challenges are beginning to make themselves known in the areas of compliance and risk. From 1 January this year, and on the back of the Legal Services Act, law firms had to modernise and, like the rest of industry, initiate a risk strategy into their businesses by appointing compliance officers.

New solutions for a new era

This brave new world of Outcome Focused Regulation (OFR) will see the detailed rulebook governing solicitors’ practices replaced with principles and outcomes to protect consumers of legal services. There is now greater flexibility for firms in how they achieve the required standards, but with that comes an obligation to appoint a compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) and compliance officer of finance and administration (COFA).There are big decisions to be made around better reporting, referral fees, international trade, and the need to think on a truly global scale. After the upheaval in the legal sector with the jostling for position by mid-tier firms through mergers and acquisitions, and recent high-profile struggles by the likes of Cobbetts, the new OFR rules present a weighty challenge.

The drive for transparency

COLPs clearly have big decisions to make in the coming months and years. But to make the best decisions for their businesses, they have to have access to the right information – and have greater awareness where processes are failing. COLPs and COFAs will need to delve deeper into these processes, and bring together all the data and outcomes within a business to make them more transparent.

Identifying risk within any business isn’t a manual process. The implementation of smart software can act as an early-warning system that will identify systems, data and transactions that are falling outside of your risk boundaries. The processes within a legal business need to be brought to the surface, and the checks on them made easier and more transparent. It’s in this way that risk will become so much simpler to manage.

EBA: building an advantage

How can the legal sector use management techniques and technology to build and sustain a competitive advantage? Winning legal organisations are turning to the discipline of Enterprise Business Architecture (EBA) to help take their business to the next level.

Until recently, Enterprise ArchitectureEBA tended to take a bottom-up approach – led by technical constraints and isolated operational IT solutions. Organisations were working for their IT system, not the other way around. As a result, achieving business goals was way down on the agenda and Enterprise Architecture initiatives failed to deliver anything meaningful.

Learning from this, leading software company Casewise takes a more business focused top-down approach. Creating a robust Enterprise Business Architecture (EBA)-based solution that ensures that EBA initiatives work to solve problems the organisation is facing, contributing to the business strategy and offering a secure platform for the future.

EBA allows a business to adapt quicker, improve faster and work smarter. With IT extending to – and having a huge influence over – all areas of operations, and with the COLPs and COFAs now tasked with ensuring risk compliance through the entire law firm, this is more important than ever. EBA can mean an IT structure that reduces costs, maximises efficiency and contributes towards exorcising risk.

The big issue for the COLPs and COFAs is using EBA to proactively alert them to any risk issues, and how they make this the norm for the workforce. EBA can help with that as it handles the information derived from a business’s processes and understands the relationships between different items of information. In this way, EBA is proactively seeking out conflict which could lead to a breach of compliance.

What EBA can do for the COLPs and COFAs:

- Defines the link between the enterprise business strategy and the results predicted from supporting strategic initiatives.
- Provides a single source and comprehensive repository of knowledge from which compliance initiatives will evolve and link.
- Transforms the information into a fully integrated enterprise model of the business throughout the business.
- Engineers solutions that directly link to the compliance strategy.
- Ensures that risk and compliance projects are not ad hoc, but properly designed and tested, ensuring continuity for the future.
- Give a holistic view of the business and allow them to transform performance through accelerated growth, reduced risk and newfound efficiencies.

Changing cultures

EBA also has knock-on benefits. Better reporting will mean the Solicitors Regulatory Authority are likely to view the business favourably, and let it get on with the day-to-day efforts of increasing fee income. Furthermore, with EBA making the business more transparent, the workforce will be encouraged to take the lead in optimising their processes and decision-making.

And perhaps just as importantly, the more information you have transparently available throughout the law practice, the better decisions you can make. EBA is all about optimising both physical and mental processes; the more confidence the workforce has in them, the more confidence a business’s clients will have in the workforce, and the quicker a law firm can continue to grow, and escape the fate of those which didn’t wise up in time.

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Ready for retail revival

Today, maximising profit is harder than ever for banks. The large retail banks have been forced to sell off branches and their investment arms are under increasing scrutiny, writes Tim FitzGerald, Finance & Banking Sales Manager, Casewise.

The need to change – be it adapting to newly-imposed regulatory frameworks, to differentiating yourself from the competition and growing organically while also encouraging customers to switch to you requires agility never before experienced in the financial sector. Organisations that can change quickest will win.

All this requires financial institutions to examine how they might better interact with their customers, see how best they can improve service to their customers whilst making it more cost effective to process once a piece of business has been initiated – be that a trade, a payment, selling a product or indeed introducing new products.

For the financial services sector, successful use of software and IT systems should mean more than just being able to maintain a good working relationship with your customers; it’s about continual improvement, offering more to your existing customers while attracting new ones and growing.

The banking sector relies heavily on IT – electronic trading and settlement is a mainstay of the industry. However it is this myriad of siloed systems and their complexity that makes it hard for management to visualise an end-to-end business process.

We have to ask what the bank is, and what does it aspire to be? How do you make the journey from ‘as is’ to ‘to be’ without mapping it, planning it and making best use of your resources? How do you do Basel III? How do you cope with RRP? How do you introduce that new mortgage product? How do you separate investment from retail?

We only have to look at recent calamities in the financial sector. The Libor scandal, mis-selling PPI, rogue traders, liquidity inadequacies, bank bail-outs and system outages leaving customers unable to access their accounts or pay bills. All of these are down to a lack of proper process or adequate process rigour.

Everyone is responsible for process rigour, but the bank’s board and senior directors are accountable.

Financial institutions operate in a highly regulated industry and it is everyone’s responsibility to follow the right process. But is that process properly documented? Is it published, accessible and digestible by those who need to follow it? Is it auditable? Is it relevant and up to date? Is it aligned with the need to change or operate differently? I suggest that often the answer to most or all of those questions is “no”. Then how can any financial institution effectively mitigate against operational and reputational risk unless this is put right?

You have only to recall the day the London Stock Exchange’s rules changed – 27 October 1986. It was dubbed Big Bang because of the aggregation of measures designed to precipitate a complete alteration in the structure of the market. Traders no longer walked the floor of the exchanges but conducted business electronically from their desks. The introduction of ATMs, BACS, CHAPS, Faster Payments, SEPA, credit card authorisation and Chip & PIN, contactless technology, as well as the information for traders to understand the market, such as services provided by Bloomberg and Reuters and now ‘Bank 2.0’ – the advent of mobile banking services – all these require a heavy reliance on technology. Without this technology enablement we would never have seen the services provided today.

However, for banks to be truly competitive there has to be not just better system integration but better visualisation of the business processes. Better visualisation of how the business process of selling a mortgage interfaces with a current account, better visualisation how a trade is influenced, how it is settled and better visualisation of how the transfer of funds occurs. Who owns that process, when was it last reviewed? What different geographies and locations does that process encompass? Who is involved in that process? Where are the bottlenecks, where are the risks? What else runs on those systems hosting this process? What happens if a location is closed, individuals leave the bank, get promoted, roles made redundant that operate within your process but are outside your remit?

There are three key elements the banking sector should take from the recession:

• The ability to adapt to change will separate the winners and the losers;

• Better process visualisation is the only way to remain competitive;

• Better process rigour is the only way to survive.

Transformation and adaption are the watchwords of today’s financial sector. However, one should not look at this downturn of the economy as being where the bloodletting will occur. Unless an organisation can effect agility and be adaptable when the upturn comes; if an organisation isn’t capable of seizing the new opportunities a resurgent economy brings; if it cannot cope with new invasive regulation while simultaneously growing its business; if it cannot attract new customers and launch new products quicker than competitors – that is when it will die.

Organisations need the tools in place to see the ‘bank on a page’, to be able to stand at the chart table in the captain’s cabin, to be able to plot the course and know immediately the hazards along the way. Because if you can’t, here be dragons.

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