BUSINESS PROCESS IMPROVEMENT
Brian Chaney, an IT consultant to the U.S. Air Force at
Copper River in Montgomery, Ala., is also a proponent of
BPI technology. He has built and managed more than 50
different enterprise applications using Metastorm ProVision
over the past several years.
“BPI has really big payoffs,” Chaney says. “We did a large
systems data-sampling project that ended up saving two
man-years and $1.5 million for the Air Force.”
Some of the applications are used to focus on defects
to determine what caused the errors, how they could be
resolved and how they could affect other processes down
the road. “This gives our clients ways to smooth out their
workflows because they aren’t reacting to everything as an
emergency,” Chaney says. “So they can plan better and use
their software-development resources more effectively.”
NOT FOR EVERYONE
BPI isn’t for every organization, however. A company has to
want to be organized and accept the software’s organization
schemas for its work processes. And some BPI efforts fail.
“Some of these products are very robust with excellent
features,” eCity Interactive’s Weinberg says. “Then they get
unleashed to the team, and no one explains how they are
going to be used. It’s best to determine your process first, and
then use software to implement it.”
But BPI can codify what is going on in an organization—
things that could be hard to analyze otherwise. “Sometimes
the loudest complainer knows that something is going
wrong, but not why or where,” explains consultant Chaney.
“Using these tools, we can figure out what is breaking down.
“Normally, the biggest stumbling blocks and most fearful
staff are the line managers. The workers down on the line
know that things could be improved, but the managers think
they’re doing a good job. One line manager told me that they
had already improved things. But by the time we got through,
we shaved 40 percent of their activities that weren’t value-added or productive.”
BASELINE MARCH/APRIL 2010
COMPLETING MORE PROJECTS
Oregon Freeze Dry in Albany, Ore., has also benefited from
BPI technology. The custom freeze-drying manufacturer has
been using Realization Technologies Execution Management
software for years. The product is based on critical-chain
project-management theory developed by Eliyahu Goldratt.
This theory looks at constrained resources and can reorder
schedules to maximize output.
“We’ve been able to complete more projects than we did
before we used this tool,” says Alan Huster, the firm’s process
The company divided its projects into three groups: regulatory groups, those that sustain their business, and those
that can offer new profits and grow the company. “If you
understand the differences, you can gain a lot from critical-chain management,” Huster says.
BPI is working well for Oregon Freeze Dry, which com-
pleted more than 500 projects last year and continues to grow
revenues. “Using this software has become very ingrained in our
company,” Huster says. “When we are 10 percent of the way
through a project, we already know whether we’re tracking prop-
erly. With traditional project management tools, it usually takes
until you’re 90 percent done to know that you’re off-target.”
Using this software has also made it easy to identify bot-
tlenecks. “Early on, one person in R&D did all of our labeling
work,” he explains. “From the number of tasks accumulating
for this person within the system, it became apparent that
this was the bottleneck.
“We have to get regulatory approval if we change any of
our ingredients, and then we have to change our food labels.
It is a cumbersome thing to keep up with. We made some
changes to relieve the load on this one person, and the overall
project output quickly increased.”
The key to the company’s success was training. When the
technology was first deployed, Oregon Freeze Dry hired an
outside value-added reseller to help coach its staff. In addi-
tion, the company holds project team meetings each morn-
ing to discuss delays and other issues that can be quickly
resolved with everyone in the room.
“Using this tool has removed a lot of stress from people’s
daily activities,” Huster reports. “They don’t have to worry
about what they’re going to be doing tomorrow because all
their tasks are in the system. The tension of trying to keep
track of what everyone else is doing and figuring out your
own role goes away.”
A BPI solution also helped streamline the monthly account-
closing process for Nationwide Insurance. “We had to coordi-
nate inputs from several thousand separate items and produce
a monthly report to management and stockholders,” said
Charlie Lee, former assistant vice president, process manage-
ment, at the Columbus, Ohio-based company. “It was a very
chaotic and flawed.”
Nationwide chose Pegasystems’ Smart BPM Suite to auto-
mate this task since the company already had the software in-
house, notes Lee, who is now vice president of shared services
operations for Endurance Services Ltd. in White Plains, N. Y.
“We went from a perpetual closing—we would just about fin-
ish one month’s close before starting on the next month—to a
process that now takes less than half the time.”
Nationwide took about a year to implement the new process
and gradually won over the various stakeholders and managers.
“Eventually, our executives could see what they contributed to
the process and the value of the system,” Lee says.
When used properly, BPI can bring big benefits to a
company’s bottom line. The trick is knowing how and
where to get started. 3
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