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BPM Gets Out of the Back Office

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Posted January 11, 2012 By Ann All     Feedback

Business process management practitioners say their clients are beginning to use BPM not just to streamline their back-office processes, but also to improve their customer-facing processes.

EnterpriseAppsToday’s Ann All spoke with Stuart Chandler, vice president of the BPM Practice for Virtusa Corporation, an IT services company that provides consulting, technology and outsourcing services, about this shift.

All: You mentioned Virtusa is seeing shifts in how clients are using BPM. Why do you think this is happening?

Chandler: BPM has been around for a pretty long time. So you have more maturity around it. Whether you configure on a Pegasystems PRPC, or go into JBoss , or try to manage .NET to create process, I think you have more people willing to start managing their business around processes.  Many people think they’ve been doing that, but what they’ve been really doing is managing transactions. They haven’t been looking at the processes that are varied in nature.

Organizations are also able to better visualize and see how they can incorporate the BPM approach into different parts of the organization. Before with repetitive process steps, it was like an assembly line. It was so clear when you had to put a certain widget in at a certain spot. But unstructured processes are different. If you can’t structure all the work in absolute terms, there’s still a meta level where I can add structure and start learning from it.

Some BPM platforms now offer alerts. When you get those alerts, you can start understanding your processes much better. You might say, “We’re getting some pretty consistent transactions coming in. I better configure something simple at a meta level to get a handle on it.” If I don’t build something to capture the information, then I won’t actually know.

All: I’ve read and heard about companies using BPM  not only to streamline back-office processes but also to improve customer-facing processes. Is Virtusa seeing this?

Chandler: On the customer service side, there’s a need to move the back-end transactions to the front office. Do I have to have 50 people understand how to do a transaction that changes my plane ticket?  Maybe I just need to institutionalize the more common piece, make it more customer-facing and then wrap some people around the more unstructured parts.

Another example is hospitality comments and complaints. Organizations would a purser take down your problem – maybe a broken pipe in your cabin on a cruise ship – on a note card. But you know you are going to affect other people around that cabin who might be inconvenienced by the work needed to fix the pipe. So why don’t you contact them in a proactive manner and let them know what is going on, maybe offer to comp them something? When you incorporate predictive analytics and adaptive case management into BPM, it gives you the opportunity to be proactive instead of just reactive.

If you look at a reservations system and you see a spike in reservations for a particular flight, why wouldn’t I want to see what is going on. You might find there is a big conference in the destination city, and you can offer those travelers something special related to the conference. You almost get into cross-selling. Or you can provide concierge-type service, by offering car service to good customers, for example.

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