FundSERV invests in automated BPM

In order to cope with the estimated three million transactions across its IT infrastructure each month, upping the level of automation was almost an automatic decision, according to one Toronto-based firm.

FundSERV, provides electronic business services to the Canadian investment fund industry. Specifically, the Toronto-based firm operates and maintains an expansive investment fund transaction processing system. Among its clients are 193 investment fund manufacturers, 472 distributors and 42 intermediaries, while FundSERV’s services and applications support more than 10,000 different investment fund offerings.

According to Carol De Veau, vice-president of business development for FundSERV, the goal was to boost customer service by reducing the time, cost and risk from their investment transaction processes. Even though they weren’t initially familiar with the term business process management (BPM),

FundSERV knew that a IT solution was needed to boost the level of automation within the environment. De Veau said. Simply put, BPM software technology provides a set of integrated, closed-loop management and analytic processes that address financial as well as operational activities. In the past, while the IT staff could provide limited analysis of transactional data, De Veau noted that FundSERV lacked an automated and ongoing analytical tool.

According to Stamford, Conn.-base Meta Group Inc., the BPM industry is projected to grow 15 to 20 per cent this year, having topped US $1.1 billion in 2003. Within the next 18 months, according to another Meta study, an estimated 85 per cent of organizations polled will tackle a BPM initiative. Although they initially looked at many vendor offerings, FundSERV decided, for their needs, a BPM product from vendor Sajus Technologies Inc. provided a more “focused approach.” The solution is part of the goal to observe and develop business rules to better assess and automate transactions. The Sajus’ BPM Suite is being used as a component within its IT environment to monitor and optimize business processes, De Veau said.

Sajus president and CEO Steven Clarke said that in FundSERV’s case, BPM enables the company to better access data already available to better understand what industry-wide mutual fund transactions do not flow across the system. FundSERV can better assess the cost to the mutual fund industry of non-automated transactions, and develop applications to handle new investment fund products, he added. Ultimately, the BPM suite enables FundSERV to zero in on reducing the customer cost of transactions, Clarke said.

The measure of success, De Veau said, is in the ability to better analyze the end-to-end enterprise transactions that flow through the FundSERV network. Clients want the ability to increase the level of automation; FundSERV is making the steps to facilitate that, De Veau said.

Industry observers note that as the number of financial transactions rise, so too does the need for automation and straight through processing, particularly as these transactions are scattered over a multitude of accounts and accounting systems.

Data from these sources must be collected and reconciled; manual methods are becoming increasingly less viable and cost effective. Within a highly competitive financial services market, firms are becoming aware of the pluses of using BPM in automating these processes.

As Stamford, Conn-based IT research firm Gartner Inc. recently pointed out, through automation, organizations can expect its business costs to drop 33 per cent, along with a 39 per cent decrease in labor costs.

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