Five lessons learned using Blueworks Live for process modeling at CSAA Insurance Group
Jacqi Levy 270003E0DF JALEVY@US.IBM.COM | | Tags:  blueworks_live csaa_insurance business_process_manageme... process_modeling bpm
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CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer, offers automobile, homeowners and other personal lines of insurance to AAA members through partnerships with AAA clubs. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2014, CSAA Insurance Group is rated A+ by the A.M. Best rating agency and is one of the top 20 personal lines property and casualty insurance groups in the United States according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Pat Sannerud, a Business Architect in the Insurance Group‟s Business Process Center of Excellence, is leading a charge to improve front office and back office business processes so the company can deliver best-in-class service to AAA members while continuing to increase the efficiency of its operations.
One of Pat‟s goals has been to create an environment where business people in departments like sales, customer service, finance, and accounting could actively participate in documenting and modeling business processes. Based on a mandate from the CEO that the company understands who is accountable for each key process, Pat has helped build an environment that enables subject matter experts from around the business to perform process modeling for their area. The Insurance Group is building a rich culture of process modeling with the goal that processes are continually documented and kept up to date, with the current version of any process easily available in their process repository.
As Pat recounted, “Basically we are on a journey to better understand our processes. The remit we have from the CEO is for the organization to not only understand processes, but also who's accountable for those processes. We have people in each business area who have been appointed by their leadership with the role of making sure their processes are documented and that the documentation is kept up to date. So not only do we understand how our processes work, we have a good starting point to automate those processes. Through consulting with the business areas, they are now very excited that their teams can see documented versions of every process in the Blueworks Live tool, and can easily update and improve their processes over time.”
The insurance company uses IBM Blueworks Live as the single version of the truth for process models. Pat and I met at the Impact conference last year, and since then I‟ve had the privilege of several in-depth conversations with her about process modeling at CSAA Insurance Group. In this post, Pat and I have captured five key themes and lessons learned from those discussions:
1. Process models can be understood by everyone when consistent modeling rules are followed
Pat’s insight: “It‟s not uncommon that people come to us with a model that is long and linear and they're frustrated that they spent all this time documenting this wonderful thing and no one else understands what they documented. So we go through and help them understand how to do a hierarchical model versus a linear model. And they quickly see why that‟s important in helping other people understand and follow their models.”
2. Getting business users involved is the key to successful process modeling
Pat’s insight: “We discourage the use of drawing tools for process modeling. One of the reasons is that we calculated that using a dedicated process modeling tool, rather than Visio, saves 40 hours of person time when documenting the outcomes of the initial process improvement meeting. It‟s a lot easier documenting process details in a dedicated process modeling tool, and in many areas where we previously had Visio models, we‟ve imported them into Blueworks Live.”
3. No matter how easy the tool, good process modeling requires training and mentoring
Pat’s insight: “As we expanded our use of Blueworks Live, we found that a lot of people weren't „process people‟, meaning process modeling is not something they have experience with or consider a competency. That‟s the reason we developed the training sessions, to help those folks learn how to go from a blank sheet of paper to the point where they could collaborate with their teams to document a process using a common set of method and style rules that could be understood across the entire organization.”
4. It’s valuable to have all your process models in one place and up-to-date
Pat’s insight: “It helps us to have a central repository for our process models so people can put all their processes, including their desktop procedures, in one place. This means they're all getting the same information versus everybody having something on their desktop or on a shared drive that doesn't necessarily get updated appropriately.”
5. Collaboration is the key to getting users excited
Collaboration features get business users excited and keep them involved. They are no longer bystanders watching others create process models. These collaboration capabilities put process modeling in the hands of the people who are accountable and responsible for all aspects of how the business operates.
Pat’s insight: “There are two key things that get our users excited. The first thing is how easy the tool is to use. But after they get started, what excites them is the collaboration… that you can easily share your models in the cloud, that other people can look at the processes you‟ve designed, that people can post comments… that sort of thing. The collaboration seems to be the biggest „wow factor‟ to get people to connect using the tool.”