In a previous job, I managed a direct mail program where we mailed several million pieces per year. It was a complex process which included getting client sign offs, interrogation of data against a customer segmentation model, managing several hundred letter variations, and coordination with a inbound call center for responses. Although we had a decent Visio diagram for our process and well defined SLAs (Service Level Agreements) and rules, a BPM system would have been ideal.
Let me just focus on the letter approval process. Several things drove letter changes – regulatory changes, corporate branding changes, lessons learned from our campaign results, client requests, physician requests, and consumer requests. Each letter change went through my product manager who had to sign off. It then went to marketing for sign off which often took at least one revision back to product management. It then went to account management for sign off. It then went to legal to sign off. And, many of them then went to clients for sign off with many edits in between.
If someone was out of the office or busy, this could take weeks if not months to complete while the total time of the task was probably about one day from start to finish. The challenges were the need for discussion and supporting documentation around each change (e.g., why is it better to call someone a patient versus a member); access to the previous versions to understand other changes; and a way to know who had signed off to date. With a BPM system, this could have been managed very easily taking advantage of the workflow, the business rules for routing and escalating tasks, reporting for understanding the status, document management, and collaboration for a discussion tagged to the process instance.