The Value of a Workflow Analysis

September 28, 2012

Workflows.  We hear the word often and we all know that “efficient” workflows are at the heart of every investment management operations organization.   Done correctly, process and system workflows streamline routines and allow all parts of the organization to focus on achieving the company’s objectives.  The issue comes when business requirements, systems, job responsibilities and/or personnel change but corresponding workflows don’t.    Individual requirements are addressed as they come up but rarely are the time and resources available to step back and look at the bigger picture.  This results in processes that work but may not be providing the optimization you strive for.

It takes someone who has a deep understanding of the industry and the experience to marry that with your organizational goals to analyze internal and external processes and determine where improvements would provide the most value-add.  At PORTIA, our Professional Services team has spent 25 years working with clients to deliver large, complex enterprise-wide implementations and managing a wide range of projects for asset managers, insurance companies, pension administrators, corporate treasuries, central banks and hedge funds.    Through these projects the team has built a strong understanding of workflows, operational processes and best practices that are utilized to help clients maximize the return on their investment in PORTIA.

Workflow analysis is a discipline we use right from the start of our relationships with clients.  It is critical to invest the time and resources upfront to ensure a successful installation, configuration and system integration and use of PORTIA.  Equally important is to review and assess workflows once using the software, to ensure processes continue to be optimized.

Bringing knowledge from past experiences, our Professional Services consultants work with clients to review current workflows, understand what is being done today and what the client wants to achieve from and overall business perspective.   The analysis starts with interviews of representatives from major areas within a firm to understand daily responsibilities and procedures and emphasizing perceived “pain points.”  The objective of the interviews is to get a comprehensive picture of the firm’s processes.   Critical in these discussions is to recognize all processes, ones that are directly related to PORTIA and, sometimes more importantly, where the client is processing something outside of PORTIA.

Once the interviews are done, the consultant outlines the workflow of the areas discussed, highlighting targets for improvement and defining the benefit of implementing changes.  This is followed by detailed recommendations on how to execute the improvements. The recommendations can vary based on the organization and situations. Many processes can be optimized by simply using functionality and flexibility already available in the system or the recommendation could suggest new modules or a system upgrade to take advantage of enhancements to the system.  Our consultants make their recommendations based on experiences of working with other clients who have dealt with and resolved similar issues.  Their suggestions also come from PORTIA “best practices” that are not found in documentation but are the result of many years working with system.  Most of the time, the recommendations are quick fixes that can be applied and implemented by client resources.  To complete the analysis, the consultant and the client work together to determine which solutions will be of most benefit to the organization and build a project plan that will achieve results.

Streamlined workflows are the key to running an efficient operations organization.  With the right processes in place, resources can focus efforts on tasks that bring the most value to the organization and better serve end customers.  But maintaining efficient workflows can be difficult, they need to be assessed, tweaked and updated from time-to-time.  If they aren’t, the workflows put in place to simplify and streamline could be the cause of inefficiencies.  Having professionals with the right group of knowledge review processes can lead to new ideas, best practices and process optimization to enhance an organizations overall efficiency.

– Steve Kasabula, Product Manager

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