Breaking down barriers
Project: Business Process Management
Jurisdiction: Richmond, Va.
Agency: IT Department
Vendor: Baltimore-based Metastorm
Date began: 2005
In 2005, Richmond, Va., mayor Douglas Wilder launched a citywide initiative to improve efficiency that has led several departments to begin using business process management (BPM) software to automate manual tasks. Now, the IT Department is expanding its use in other departments through a new Center of Excellence for Business Process Management.
Richmond began its foray into automation by developing a tool to notify employees about software and hardware changes. Previously, the IT department would rely on managers in the departments that used certain applications to notify employees of upgrades. Even then, if a server failed, the department did not have a consistent method for notifying users. In March 2006, Richmond contracted with Baltimore-based Metastorm for software that would automate notification, and IT staff created a Change Control Notification tool.
Now, every employee affected by a change is notified automatically, and the system tracks the changes so IT managers can more clearly identify problematic equipment. “It made the process consistent; it made it repeatable; and it gave us some performance measures to manage by,” says Kirk Baumbach, IT manager. “At that time, the administration was looking for us to show different metrics, and we were calculating that manually from spreadsheets and counting Word documents, but with [the BPM software], we [can] create a report at any time and see where we are in relation to our targets.”
Mayor Wilder and Chief Administrative Officer Sheila Hill-Christian also have used a tool created with BPM software to gather, track and manage monthly project status reports from department heads to help communicate how well the city is meeting strategic priorities. And, last fall, the mayor launched a performance measurement initiative, called RichmondWorks, that is evaluating each department’s operations and determining how they can improve.
The IT Department created a Center of Excellence for Business Process Management with dedicated IT staff to help departments become more efficient and automate activities by using BPM and business intelligence software. “As we start to look at the processes and start to dig into performance management, there are a lot of weaknesses in our core business processes, so we’re looking at [BPM software] as one tool to help us get the data we need to really manage processes using data and performance statistics,” Baumbach says.