As far back as 2004, JLT EB started using BPM to streamline a limited set of business operations. Use was confined to about 30 people in a “model office”. During that same time period, JLT acquired Profund, a leading provider of pension administration software in the UK. Customers included both in-house and third-party administrators. Profund had seen opportunities to expand its pension fund administration solutions into specific areas of process automation while helping customers to simplify the overall user experience. Deciding to use the current BPM tool, the company developed outward-facing solutions that rolled out to end customers in 2007. BPM usage at JLT EB and Profund grew to about 300 users.
Between 2007-2010, JLT made more than 20 acquisitions globally across the group. JLT EB operations quickly became highly complex, distributed and paper-based. Employees were handling millions of documents annually covering Pension Administration, Payroll, Defined Contributions, Actuarial, Health and Risk, among other requests. Processes treated more than 16 million workflow elements, 300+ million rows of table data and 15 million SharePoint documents. The BPM solution covers 14 active offices in Europe and India, off-shoring and massive amounts of regulations. The company knew that in order to continuing growing at the same speed while containing costs, it would have to do more with less.
JLT EB accomplished its goals of increased revenues with lower costs with continual investment in BPM. JLT EB has used BPM to streamline >200 processes. From an ROI standpoint, this work has provided a key business component, contributing to JLT EB’s growth in trading profit by 50% in the last financial year. Revenue growth is enabled by more flexible solutions that can be highly tailored to internal client needs as well as end-customer engagements. Cost cutting is enabled through the use of process automation tied together with effective scanning, document handling and rule-based routing. Paper is largely removed, deadlines hit, and governance accomplished.
Doing more with less requires innovative use of technology. Starting in 2004 JLT EB had been able to increase top line revenues by selling new solutions while lowering costs through process automation. This legacy of success became a critical asset when merging together multiple acquisitions between 2008 and 2010.
For example, in December 2009 JLT acquired HSBC Actuaries and Consulting Limited (HACL), a leading employee benefits and actuarial consulting firm with £40M in revenues. The acquisition was considered highly synergistic, extending JLT EB’s capabilities in areas such as Defined Benefit, Defined Contribution and pension consultancy and solutions.
At the time of acquisition HACL had a complex, business-rule driven system and associated EDMS for process automation. JLT EB had its own BPM-based infrastructure. After doing a rigorous technology review, JLT EB decided to keep its current BPM platform and make a large investment in extending that infrastructure to enable both increased sales and reduced costs. Use would go from a few hundred people to >800 daily users. Expected savings proved high.
Expected ROI from Process Automation
|Time Saved per Work Item||Hours Saved in a Year||Man Days Saved per Year||Working years||£££|
Realizing these savings would put the company in a great position to grow both top line sales and bottom line revenues.
The Key Innovations
BPM allowed JLT EB to innovate in the following areas:
- Sales – Employee benefits and pension fund schemes must be tailored to individual customer needs. Each scheme contains unique data and backend systems. With its BPM-based infrastructure, JLT EB can demonstrate to both current and prospective customers an ability to meet their specific requirements both quickly and cleanly. This inherent flexibility in technology architecture has been a component allows for product differentiation and supported the activities that have seen a 50% increase in trading profit.
- Document Handling – Looking internally, JLT EB has lowered costs per employee through process automation. Removing paper is one big reason for these costs savings. In the past, outbound document handling was printed and stuffed by a Post Handling Team (PHT). Through the integration of Scanning, EDMS and BPM, outbound documents are now directly integrated into the overall flow. Inbound document handling is likewise automated. Some of the incoming documentation (e.g., Checks and Certificates) are treated with special handling functionality. Streamlining and standardizing document handling alone has produced annual savings into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. Furthermore, it has ensured regulatory compliance. For example, regulators impose strict penalties if turnaround times are breached. BPM grants users visibility into work status as well as creates triggers for escalating and notifying users to get work done before regulatory penalties apply.
- Customer Service – Another innovative use of BPM is in the area of ad-hoc reviews. Within the structured workflow is a jump-off point for ad-hoc correspondence from the user to one or many colleagues. Keeping the work within the application allows all users to collaborate to quickly resolve customer issues while tracking overall progress. It also removes the need for scattershot emails and calls, again reducing wasted time and resources. The ad-hoc capability has been particularly important as more work has been routed offshore where the implicit understanding of the UK pension rules and regulations is still maturing. In other words, BPM is a primer for KM.
- SLA Management – The use of BPM has also helped JLT EB to effectively meet SLA’s and deadlines. The management of statutory deadlines often crosses the boundaries of natural processes. Knowing this is one thing, monitoring it is another. Using BPM, methods to manage SLA compliance were developed and reports created. Now missing statutory deadlines and breaches are rare. Improved performance and increased risk management have led to more sales and less legal costs.
- Compliance – As mentioned above, the employee benefits business is very highly regulated and all incoming and outgoing correspondence must be tracked. In order to accomplish this requirement while streamlining the entire employee benefits operation, JLT EB decided to integrate Scanning, EDMS and BPM components to create a highly sophisticated, large scale application architecture. The approach was to loosely couple BPM (BizFlow) with EDMS (SharePoint) whereby documents were directly accessible from workitems in the BPM user interface and/or forms. Integration was done using an API and sympathetic folder structure, but not direct coupling to the case in question. This approach has allowed flexibility and independent access to the EDMS documents using the EDMS front-end. The custom interface allows incoming documents to be ‘indexed’ with relevant meta-data and to have this data initiate relevant business processes. A Practice Engine is a time recording system used for billing and the workflow system updates this engine whenever a case is opened and closed. Accurate billing to the clients is managed through this interface.
JLT EB’s commitment to BPM enabled it to on-board HACL with fewer people and a significant increase in the volume of daily transactions.
With the HACL acquisition and subsequent development, JLT EB began to standardize its BPM methodology. In order to gain efficiencies, the business analysis and development was centralized in Manchester. Development was moved from a waterfall to agile methodologies.
While the lead business analyst in Manchester worked with other analysts across regions to gather requirements and specifications, developers started building process definitions and designing forms. Documentation was standardized so as to capture objectives, scope, flows, activities, rules, form elements, form design, and user experience. Process modeling was done in BPMN v1.0. Testing took place throughout the process life-cycle with the bulk of it along with user acceptance happening at the end. The methodology allowed project managers to distribute design and development work to offshore teams in Washington DC.
Over time, JLT EB established best practices and templates for their user experience. Templates included the UI, forms layout, and data structures. For example, many forms share the same headers. Applications can share functionality for ad-hoc joiners, ad-hoc reviews, and pends. These reusable templates have greatly reduced development timelines and have improved consistency.
Agile Methodology for BPM Implementations
Since 2010, JLT EB has been able to streamline more than 127 unique processes. Overarching processes include:
When clients’ employees retire their interaction with JLT EB moves them from the Pension Administration group to the Payroll business unit. Payroll is responsible for managing the monthly pension payments for many hundred thousand individuals and is a tightly regulated part of the business.
Payroll processes consist of a number of actions (e.g., Change of Address, Change of Banking details) that are initiated by the Payroll team or Pensions Admin team. The initiation occurs when a document is received, scanned and indexed by PHT and placed in SharePoint. The process can also be initiated manually by a user. Some processes are initiated by the Pensions Admin team and passed onto the Payroll Admin team for their input. Some of the processes involve other systems and other parts of the business.
For example, a Change of Address notification can be received and processed by either Admin or Payroll. However, if it is an oPen solution (a product of Profund) customer then the Admin must be informed about the address change and will have to amend the oPen record accordingly. These actions interface with certain backend systems like Cashfac and Propay. An example interface is the SharePoint wrapper that sits between Kofax (the automatic scanning software) and BizFlow. Kofax scans incoming documents and adds them to generic SharePoint document management libraries. From here they are indexed and saved in specific libraries which are linked to schemes. SharePoint then initiates a BizFlow process to manage the Action such as a Change of Address request.
Health and Risk:
JLT is a leading provider of health and risk management consulting and solutions. H&R processes include: Create Work, AdHoc Risk Joiners, Healthcare Renewals, Death Claims, Healthcare Joiners, Income Protection Claims, Appeals, Reviews, Leavers, Lost Schemes, Amendments and Switches.
Work is normally initiated automatically when a document is uploaded into SharePoint (either manually or automatically as an incoming scanned document). When an item of mail is received the PHT scans it and performs an initial Index/Coding that attaches metadata to the document using Kofax. The item is saved to a SharePoint document library and initiates the Create Work process within BizFlow. Other processes normally follow.
Defined Contribution Consulting (DCC):
The DCC application supports many processes, including: Create Work, Notice to Staff, Ad Hoc Requests and Queries, Direct Offer associated flows, Transfers, and Annuities. Subprocesses include Pending, Termination and Document Handling.
- As a whole, the DCC process follows a “Doer”, “Checker”, “Completer” cycle where the Does and Checker cannot be the same person. Validation occurs to ensure all mandatory data has been added. The use of headers saves thousands of hours in data entry and validation.
During this effort to expand BPM across the Employee Benefits group, JLT EB made many innovations in both development and user interactions. The overarching vision was that greater usability results in greater user efficiency, or in other words, design matters. Bringing together all elements of the process into one user experience would help users do work more efficiently and effectively.
- Standardizing Common Elements – As there are many shared elements in each overarching process, JLT EB worked to standardize common elements for reuse. Elements include:
- Headers – JLT EB uses Headers to collect common data that crosses over multiple forms and/ or sub-processes. The use of Headers eliminates data entry as well as ensures data accuracy.
- Pend – Users can pend work at many areas in the workflow. Pend rules require users to identify a future date and reason. If the reason is internal, the SLA continues to run. If external, then the SLA is paused. BPM runs daily reports giving visibility to management of pended work with associated reasons.
- Termination – Users can terminate work during the process. Rules require users to state a reason (e.g., incorrect indexing, incorrect process selected, duplicate task) and determine any additional action. For example, when a work item is initiated in error it may need to initiate another in its place with the same header information.
- SharePoint – SharePoint is used across the Group as a repository for ALL documentation including mail, email, and generated documents (e,g., Word, Excel, Visio, etc.). Each business has regions set up in SharePoint which spawns variants of the form: Client/Scheme/Member. The BPM processes have a tab on the top that when clicked points the User directly to the relevant hierarchy level (e.g., If it is a Scheme then it will point the User to the Scheme folder).
- Ad-Hoc Peer Reviews – During process execution users often need to ask associates for information to complete work. Rather than using email which leads to lost time and information, JLT EB added functionality directly into the application enabling dynamic collaboration. This capability is implemented as a separate tab along the top of the screen. The reviewer will be determined depending on what stage the process is at from a drop down list. A “doer” won’t be able to review their own work. This innovation is enabled by the BizFlow engine.
- Self-Triggering Processes – Some processes can trigger other processes. The relationships that exist between these processes are displayed below. The logic of the triggering mechanisms within each parent process is displayed against each process relationship.
BPM applications are now available to >800 people across multiple continents. Applications are becoming more sophisticated as the company adds more and more business rules and complex routings. JLT EB has integrated BPM with BI/Datawarehousing to run sophisticated reports.
JLT EB now is integrating a business rules engine to route work based on a very sophisticated list of rules to the lowest cost resource. Rules will pertain to users’ skill base, experience, location, client relationships, etc.
The overall approach has been to incorporate dynamic checklists into the forms which has improved information available to the business and improved the visibility of areas of risk.
In 2010 JLT acquired a company using a different BPM-based solution. It was also tied to a different EDMS. After doing a study comparing BPM systems, JLT EB decided to use its own for cost and functionality reasons. The acquired system limited the way the employees naturally worked at JLT EB. It forced users to follow a very strict sequence of events which led to deadlines being missed and shortcuts being taken leading to risk for the business. With the replacement, the overall time taken to complete a case was reduced from days to hours. Furthermore, the development of new processes has been much faster and well received. For example, JLT EB was able to completely revamp work processes with half the process team and half the time as was originally accomplished at HACL.
Since 2011, JLT EB has been investing in a Center of Excellence. Based in Manchester, the COE works to establish standards associated with analysis, documentation, design and development. These standards help Business Analysts know what information to collect and how to document it. They help developers follow principles of agile development and user acceptance testing. The COE also sets expectations for training and resource development. JLT EB has matured from using a consultant in 2004 to having a team of Five Developers, 3 Business Analysts, two Project Managers and two Testers. A senior executive owns the budget and interfaces with executive management to manage development and rollout. Ultimately, BPM gets the backing of C-Level executives and a budget of several million pounds.
As JLT EB has matured the organization has overcome hurdles in three primary areas:
- Business ownership – It is vital to get the business involved. With business ownership, team members get refined requirements, locked scope, validated investment, and commitment to testing and use. Users more readily adopt solutions as they have had more input on features, functionality and design.
- Talent Development – Five large projects in 18 months required many people to learn on the job. Having a small group of true experts in business analysis and development helped to provide new team members with guidance and best practices as to requirements analysis, documentation, implementation and testing. All personnel also went through training and workshops to learn BPM products and best practices. Developers sat side by side to learn from each other as well as review and test functionality.
- Communication – There needs to be constant, real communication between the stake holders. Any business change project impacts a diverse set of people, roles and personalities, and assumptions need to be checked, re-checked and verified to avoid misunderstandings. There is also a need for a steering committee that has overview of the entire delivery to ensure that the intra-process interfaces and hand-offs are clean and continue to meet the requirements of the business. JLT EB have weekly project team calls as well as daily interactions through ad-hoc team meetings, calls, and Skype sessions.
The BPM projects have resulted in many benefits. First and foremost, JLT EB was able to grow its trading profit by 50% in the last financial year. This was largely the result of doing more with less. JLT EB on-boarded new acquisitions with 50% fewer people despite a significant increase in the volume of transactions. And the company was also able to replace redundant systems.
The new methodology and best practices have enabled JLT EB to do work better and faster. For example, Business Analysts can do research and workflow design while developers focus on implementation and testing. This means that BA’s can do about 50% of “development.” Because the BPM suite is “codeless,” they are saving time from not writing and maintaining code. JLT EB has also created a COE to ensure that team members learn best practices, get training, follow standards and get investment for new projects. Key reasons for success include: business involvement and user engagement, constant clear communications amongst stakeholders, and good vendor support.
Best Practices, Learning Points and Pitfalls
On the road to automation, JLT EB has learned many lessons:
- Requirements – When reviewing requirements, talk through all scenarios, frameworks, and technical specifications. Lock down specifications as much as possible to create definitive scope and project plan. Involve end-users often during the requirements analysis so as to expose potential problems early.
- Project Management – Have committed project management. Ensure that team members are voicing concerns. Respond to questions same/next day. Watch scope creep. When outsourcing, ensure that both internal and external teams have active project management so as to avoid miscommunications.
- Resource Allocation – Assign a dedicated BA to the project to own requirements and make decisions on issues and change requests. Get technical resources talking to validate approach.
- Sponsors – Ensure that the business has clearly identified and committed sponsors and owners because any BPM project is about changing the “business.”
- Documentation – Standardize documentation and isolate shared sections. “As little as possible and as much as is necessary” has been the ongoing motto whilst delivering many processes on numerous projects in parallel.
The BPM infrastructure JLT EB has created enables the company to adapt faster to market forces, sell highly tailored solutions, and more efficiently service customers.
Core components include BizFlow, SharePoint, Kofax among others.
The Technology and Service Providers
Project contributors include:
- JLT EB IT Team – Based in Manchester with staff located in Manchester, London, St. Albans, Bristol acting in roles of project management, business analysis, application development, QA/testing, and deployment.
- HandySoft – Based in Washington DC with team members in Washington DC and Manchester, providing BizFlow® BPM as well as professional services associated with project management, business analysis, application development, deployment and customer support.
Copyright: This case study was originally published in the Excellence in Practice series in the book entitled “Delivering Competitive Advantage” published by Future Strategies Inc. ©