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Time for Business Process Management for your bank?

Part 1: Telltale signs that current approaches don’t work

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  • Written by  Brent Gohl, Wolters Kluwer Financial Services
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  • Comments:   DISQUS_COMMENTS
Time for Business Process Management for your bank?

When it comes to day-to-day operations at your financial institution, does your organization struggle with:

• Spending valuable time searching for customer information and documentation that sometimes seems nearly impossible to track down?

• Being unable to respond to customers’ account inquiries in a timely manner?

• Reviewing Excel spreadsheets to compile performance analytics and wondering if the information is still accurate?

• Ensuring that all employees follow the same workflow procedures and operate in compliance with regulatory requirements as well as your own internal and investor guidelines?

The survey says …

If your financial institution is burdened with inefficiencies such as these, you are not alone. In a 2013 survey conducted by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services, a significant number of respondents indicated that they still rely on manual processes and disparate systems to manage their business operations. The survey results found that:

• 72% of financial institutions still have customers manually complete their account application documents.

• 74% percent do not have an automated process for gathering loan approval information.

• 75%  manually update Excel spreadsheets to track some part of the process.

• 77% have manual processes for tracking loan status.

• 86% do not track internal communications about transactions.

Operating this way often leads to significant inefficiencies and operational risk because of wasted employee time, delayed movement in transactions, poor hand-offs between departments, and a general inability to monitor overall business progress and productivity.

In addition, with competition to win customers more intense than ever, financial institutions are in constant need of new ways to reenergize their businesses to achieve greater consumer satisfaction.

This is where business process management (BPM) steps in. BPM has evolved into more than just a buzzword these days—it has transformed into a core driver of business success. The BPM discipline offers a holistic view of a financial institution’s operations and provides insight into areas where selected workflows might be automated to reduce risk, cut costs, increase efficiencies, and enhance customer service. Implementing a BPM solution helps organizations continually operate at optimal levels by treating processes as strategic assets that directly contribute to overall enterprise performance.

BPM: One bank’s journey

Recently, a large community bank operating in several states contacted an outside provider for a workflow review. The bank realized that its operational inefficiencies had become a tremendous drain on company resources, productivity, and profits. However, what really prompted the bank to reach out for assistance was the impact on its customers. The bank knew that it was not serving its customers to the best of its ability—and it was time to fix that.

Before implementing a BPM solution, it is important to understand what the bank’s existing workflow really looks like. A common problem is that organizations do not have a clear understanding of their current workflow processes before attempting to automate them or start a BPM discipline. The best way to overcome this obstacle is to take the time to thoroughly define and document workflow processes to see where areas of opportunity might exist. A workflow analysis is a good place to start.

Although the bank’s employees knew their processes better than an outsider might, the bank realized that bringing in a BPM expert at this stage was very valuable. It encouraged bank employees to describe their workflows in more detail, which aids in the thoroughness of the review. In addition, the expert was able to provide insight and new ideas for process improvement based on industry best practices.

In my next blog, I’ll tell you what the workflow analysis uncovered.

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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