So, this week we saw the forced resignation of the three top men at Barclays Bank: Chairman Marcus Agius, CEO Bob Diamond and COO Jerry del Missier. Directors and staff at other banks are expected to fall too.
While the headlines have all been about who knew what and who said what to who regarding the LIBOR rate scandal, there have been some hidden gems in the subtext. Take for example the memo that Bob Diamond issued to staff on Monday, in the US.
“You need better information to help in your interactions with customers and clients – and our family and friends… We need to continue to build an industry-leading control environment across everything that we do… The events revealed last week arose in large part because we did not have appropriate controls in place. Frankly, we misjudged the risk associated with the underlying activity. That must never happen again. Once we better understood the risks, we put in place the right controls and systems…
More generally, our efforts to make our operational and functional activities more integrated and independent of the businesses are vitally important. Those will improve control and drive more consistent standards, as well as improve efficiency.
We will use the output of that review to adjust our HR processes so that the standards that emerge play a material role in hiring and induction – assessment and development; and reward… We will also put in place an enforced governance process to ensure that we comply with these standards over time.”
Clearly this is a recognition that Barclays does not have in place robust processes and a process management system to help track, refine and audit those processes.
People often ask what the key motivator for Executives and Senior Managers is when it comes to promoting Enterprise Architecture and BPM. And for years I have have joked: if you can prove how what you can do will enable them to keep their jobs and out of jail, then you will have their attention! It seems the old adage holds true: “many a true word is spoken in jest”.
When it comes to creating the business case for process improvement or BPM, the best advice is always to talk to the business agenda. In these snippets from Bob Diamond, it is almost as if he is writing his own manifesto for BPM, and perhaps stating it better than many of us might have done in the past. Now all it needs is someone to show the incoming CEO how BPM is the right way to solve the problem, ensure consistency, provide transparency and ensure that risks and controls are properly managed. All while ensuring that staff have access to the right information in a timely manner. Of course Bob may still like to put a BPM system in place in his next company to make sure that, for him, history does not repeat itself.
For the the rest of us, now is not the time for being smug. Instead we should wonder if, in our own way, we might have dodged a bullet. Then we should start to look at ourselves and ask what we should be doing to make sure nothing similar could happen to us.
One thing is for sure: after a story like this with a long way still to run, we should be able to get and keep the attention of senior executives!
Of course there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started: vendors like MEGA International, Xactium, Software AG and SAP focus their process product and solution efforts on the areas of Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) and are worth exploring; many other players (including startups like Element8 and Fluxicon have technologies that can support initiatives to improve compliance…
What’s your view – is the link between process improvement, BPM and GRC understood well enough? Are there other offerings in this space you’ve explored?