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What does inefficiency really cost you?

Part 2: Business process management can help find out

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  • By  By Brent Gohl, Wolters Kluwer Financial Services
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  • Comments:   comments
What does inefficiency really cost you?

This is a continuation of a business process management case study started last week.

Although documenting your workflow processes might seem simple, the bank quickly found out that starting a solid business process management (BPM) discipline involves taking an in-depth view into the organization both internally and externally. Often, the temptation is to document how an organization thinks a process should work, rather than how it actually works. However, if the bank failed to develop a clear understanding of its existing business processes at the outset, the success of its BPM implementation would suffer. So, while it may be time-consuming, and sometimes even painful, documenting workflow processes is a critical first step—and one that must be done correctly.

Ask tough questions

The bank’s BPM expert started a detailed workflow analysis , by asking questions to help identify what its weaknesses were. Together, they sat down with the key players who are directly involved in the current processes and broke down their workflows into as many steps as possible. To begin, the BPM review team outlined detailed responses to the following:

• What are your specific business processes?

• Who is responsible or has ownership of those processes?

• What is each step of a defined process? For making a car loan.

• Are there any gaps or inefficiencies in those processes? If so, what are the costs of these gaps and inefficiencies to the business?

• How does your team communicate about a transaction and where is this communication stored? Does everyone that needs to see the transaction have access to it?

• What visibility, if any, do you have into your pipeline, your employee performance, and your overall portfolio?

• Is your reporting timely enough for you to take action?

The bank’s shocking results

As the workflow analysis progressed, the bank was shocked to discover the number of inefficiencies and gaps found within so many of its workflow processes. Some of the inefficiencies uncovered included:

Too much Excel-lence. An employee who was managing 25 Excel spreadsheets that she continually monitored and updated to gather the data she needed.

What was that that you said? Although there was constant communication between loan officers, processors, and underwriters, no one documented their conversations from either a customer perspective or as part of an audit trail.

All together, and all lost. Customer information was shuffled between departments and from branch-to-branch in a file folder. When that folder went missing, so did all of the customer’s transaction details.

Blind at all levels. A lack of visibility into individual transactions, but also overall portfolio transactions. The bank’s inability to mine data for product performance or trend analysis prevented it from making critical business decisions in a timely manner.

Based on the findings of the analysis, the bank opted to move forward with its BPM implementation. Not only that, but whereas the bank initially planned on only automating a few of its business lines, it now decided to adopt a companywide BPM discipline to ensure consistency and accuracy in its overall portfolio view.

Coming up in the last installment of my blog series, I’ll show you how to turn your business processes into an asset, not a liability.

About the author

Brent Gohl is a product manager at Wolters Kluwer Financial Services, a provider of risk management, compliance, finance, and audit solutions. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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