Securities Commission taps into workflow management

Changes to the province of British Columbia’s Securities Act necessitated modifications to the British Columbia Securities Commission’s (BCSC) approach to business process management (BPM) workflow, according to officials.

The BCSC is an independent government agency responsible for regulating trading in securities in the province, overseeing several regulatory processes such as monitoring financial disclosure documents and applications for initial public offerings. The Vancouver-based firm recently turned to Vienna, Va.-based HandySoft Global Corp. for its new BizFlow BPM solution.

BPM is gaining cachet within the enterprise, particularly as firms look to cut costs and streamline processes. According to Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc., 70 per cent of all enterprises will have conducted business process management efforts by the year 2005.

As its mandate is to protect the public interest by regulating trading in securities, the BCSC sought to change the way it vetted and approved processes of filings made by public companies, as mandated by the new BC Securities Act. According to Loring Bohach, project manager for the BCSC, the change was made not only to comply with the new Act that comes into effect by the end of November, but also to streamline its operations.

Stuart Claggett, COO of HandySoft Global, said the BizFlow solution can also be used in other private and public sectors, including the financial services sector. The technology is particularly useful in light of new compliance regulations many governments are implementing, Claggett added.

Even though the BCSC is a relatively small organization, the firm must conform with national procedures and provincial regulations, according to Bohach. “Because we had, on a technical level, developed tactical solutions to solve strategic process problems, we were losing the big picture,” Bohach said.

The previous IT environment saw the various business units using their own in-house developed applications, resulting in a disparate environment that made it difficult to maintain a holistic view of the firm’s work process. Storing data in paper-based files made it complicated to share background information once a document was being processed. With the new legislation, the different policies and regulations, this will change processes significantly, Bohach said.

According to the BCSC, it plans to manage 45 complex processes with the BizFlow platform. “We wanted to have a software infrastructure in place that would allow us to adapt to the changes that we know are coming as well being able to implement changes down the road,” Bohach said. There are Word documents, spreadsheets and databases of different flavours, Bohach said; using BizFlow enables BCSC to move to a common platform and a single access point with which staff can interact on a self-serve basis.

The project started as a series of pilot projects last summer. Currently the technology is being rolled out to automate the future regulatory oversight schedules for securities market participants based objectively on risk factors captured during process workflows, according to BCSC. Deciding on BizFlow was primarily due to the platform being “document management agnostic” and could be readily integrated with BCSC’s own (Hummingbird) EDMS system. And in terms of functionality, the technology was complex enough to cope with the unique environment, Bohach said.

The fact the solution is Web-based was also key. “We had legacy client-server applications that we were moving away from and having a common browser access is a big part…in developing new functionality,” Bohach said. Critical to success was executive buy-in and taking the time to really understand how the process is followed from start to finish, Bohach said. So far there has been a noticeable reduction in the time needed to handle paper documents.

The BPM initiative now means that active and historical processes are shared online with staff across the BCSC’s divisions in real time, Bohach said. For example, work can be routed automatically during the prospectus review process, Bohach said, adding that the new review and approval workflow translates into fewer errors from re-keying data and manually tracking paper-based files.

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