About that Merger…

  • August 18, 2010
  • Scott

The merger of two airlines has been used as an example of something BPM is not well-suited for, that ACM would be well-suited for.  I gave this argument a bit too literal a reading, based on Keith Swenson’s response (thought exercise vs. demonstration).  But having worked on quite a few BPM projects that were born of mergers (not the act of deciding to merge, but the after-affect of the merger), I found this article on the Wells Fargo and Wachovia merger to be just the kind of external, public information I was looking for to better explain my own views about how mergers happen – and the fact that there really is method (dare I say, process) to the madness.  When you are a big financial institution, or a big tech company (e.g. Cisco), you don’t do just one or two acquisitions in your history.  You might do one or two acquisitions a quarter.  Not all of them will be as big as Wachovia of course… These institutions are constantly reinventing themselves through acquisitions and spin-offs and joint ventures. Any time you do something so valuable, so often, you’ll want to understand it as a business process.

So how do you handle something massive like Trust conversions from Wachovia to Wells Fargo?

This year, Wells Fargo and Wachovia completed one of the biggest trust conversions ever; 81,000 trust accounts and $150 billion in assets were transferred to a common platform. Wells Fargo is now one of the largest U.S. trust providers in the U.S. with 233,000 accounts and $1.3 trillion in assets.

There was a big analysis effort to understand the processes operating at both firms, and to pick and choose best practices from both. After that they modeled these processes, simulated some of them, and implemented.  Some interesting ancillary benefits:

Another benefit is that the use of business process modeling helps the business and IT people communicate with each other. Instead of exchanging Word documents about requirements and technical specifications, where each side typically had trouble understanding the other, they’ve transitioned to graphical process models where both parties can look at the diagrammed process flow and exceptions. Watkins says this has saved thousands of hours of time in writing requirements documents and interpretation time for the technology developer.

So… is BPM low hanging fruit or was it hard work?  Sounds like it was hard, but valuable, work.  Is Wells Fargo really committed to BPM?

“Processes are pervasive whether you’re facing your customer or in the back office, and there’s been a recognition over the last couple of years among business leadership and IT that we should start focusing on more opportunities around process improvement, where we can leverage BPM technology we already own,” he says. “We’ve trained more than 400 people on BPM technology and technical standards like BPMN (business process modeling notation) as a common language for communicating process improvement,” he says.

Well, what do you think?

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