Recently we sat down with Rachel Aukes, a member of the Wells Fargo Financial Information Systems Continuous Improvement Team. Rachel, who plays an active role in the use of BPM at Wells Fargo, shared how Wells Fargo got started with BPM. In February, Wells Fargo received the Global Award for Excellence in BPM and workflow.
Process People: Describe in as much detail as possible the problem or need on a project level that first made you consider BPM and/or Lombardi as a viable solution.
Our BPM program came about as a solution to organizational level needs - in fact we selected our BPM solution (Teamworks) and began to implement it before deciding on a specific project. We were challenged with increasingly complex, paper-intensive processes that had a large number of manual steps and handoffs. That was obviously inefficient and meant there was room for errors (such as bad typing, misplaced files, etc.). The idea of what BPM offers became prevalent in 2006 when most of our development staff was focused on maintaining our legacy systems while building our future systems of record. This effort was strategically important to our company; however, the business had immediate tactical needs that must continue to be met. We asked ourselves what we should do to best support our business partners, and we determined that BPM was a good solution for this. We haven’t looked back.
Process People: Where did the BPM program originate - IT or the business? Who leads it today?
Rachel Aukes: Our BPM program originated within IT and has over time evolved towards the business. Through the experience we’ve gained through delivering process solutions using BPM, we determined that the business people are excellent at determining where the BPM program should focus - that is what helps us to get the best value. When we started, IT “cherry-picked” projects that looked like a good fit for BPM, because they offered us sizeable savings in terms of money, effort, etc. After several projects, we realized that even though we were achieving good results, cherry picking is not always the best approach to remain aligned with the long-term business vision. We are now putting the Business behind the steering wheel for the directional planning, project prioritization, and solution review efforts related to our BPM program.
Process People: What were some of the surprises along the way? What was the most unexpected thing that happened during your first project?
Rachel Aukes: We have learned a lot as we went through our BPM projects, and the first one was full of surprises! The most unexpected event was midway through the project. We had told our business partners we’d be back in one week ready for them to begin testing - this was about three weeks into the project. When we showed up, they were stunned to see us back so soon, saying they thought we were joking. From that we learned we must set (and continuously reset) expectations throughout the project. A second lesson that we learned from our first project came from a predictable event. Using Teamworks gave us an iterative approach towards our projects, which drastically cuts development and testing time, but we quickly learned that iterative development also leads to infinite scope. Because changes can be made so easily in the BPMS, we found that our business partners continuously wanted to add “just one more thing.” From that point on, we began to plan for interventions in each of our projects - a break in the project for IT and business management to reset expectations and scope.
Process People: Describe the reactions during the first process playback.
Rachel Aukes: Simply stated, there was love in the air. When we conducted our first playback it began with skepticism - how could we have something to show them already without having all the requirements? As the playback progressed, our business partners began to understand how they really do get to have a hand in designing their solution; no, they get to drive the design. By the end of the playback, they couldn’t wait for the next one so they could watch their process evolve seemingly before their eyes. Needless to say, playbacks have become the special niche for our BPM team.