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.
Before combining the Wells and Wachovia trust operations, Paul Tazbaz, Wells Fargo's enterprise architect, and Dave Watkins, BSC (Business Systems Consultant) manager, security servicing at Wells Fargo, worked together to model and analyze existing processes in business process modeling and simulation tools from Tibco and others. "We ran side by side analyses to see how we do a process, how they do it, and look for the differences between the groups to see what the impact would be after integration," Watkins says. "We looked at processes that would be just fine the way they were, processes where we had to make tweaks because business lines had to process a certain way, and cases where we needed to create new processes. Our focus was, could we handle all the different processes that Wachovia had in place?"
In some cases, the Wells Fargo executives say, they learned from Wachovia; where a Wachovia process seemed superior, that process was added to the Wells Fargo library.
Once the processes were mapped out, revised or added if need be, the next step was to perform simulations and volume analysis to figure out if the existing infrastructure (in terms of people and technology) could support the increased volumes. If not, the bank needed to add automation or staff.
A simulation of a process for validating mutual fund share balances for mutual fund companies, for example, showed that that one task would take seven hours a day to process with the additional volume post-merger. This drove a business case to automate that process. Now that it's automated, it only takes two minutes per day.
Watkins and Tazbaz began collaborating on ways to streamline trust operations last fall, when Watkins attended meetings Tazbaz held to encourage group leaders in the bank to use BPM. Tazbaz is part of a centralized team in the Wells Fargo technology organization that evaluates every major IT project against company standards to make sure teams are using the right technology, in the right way and benefitting from reuse. For three years he's headed up a business process management center of excellence that finds and showcases success stories of groups implementing BPM so that other groups can see how they might use it. He's developed 28 such success stories so far. One group that's been using the technology for seven years saves $30 million annually, Tazbaz says.
One of the biggest benefits of business process modeling and business process management is reuse — you design a process for doing something and then deploy it in other places where that some process takes place. But reuse of automated processes is tough in a group like trust operations, where the tasks tend to be specialized and complicated. However, Watkins has come up with a standard process of gathering transaction information that can be shared throughout the group.
In the case of two trust operations projects that have gone through the BPM modeling, the bank has saved nearly $100,000 in project costs.
But the biggest benefit has been mitigating the risks of such a large conversion. "The fact that it was done pretty seamlessly is a big benefit," Watkins says. "The next step will be looking for those automation opportunities where we can obtain further cost savings."
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.
"That's always been a huge gap in projects, where the business would create a Word document that would cover the majority of what was needed, and technology would receive that Word document and make interpretations because it was lacking in exception flows and alternative processes," Watkins says. "There was a lot of extra cost, rework, and missing functionality the business never received because the requirements weren't as strong. Now that we're going away from that word document to a business process model document, that's been eliminated from all our projects."
And Tazbaz will continue working with other groups in the bank, encouraging them to automate manual processes. "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.