Process Intelligence: finding the “except whens”

17 January 2018

"The process operates like this except when ..." 

This is something that I often hear when discussing operational processes with clients, largely because most firms don’t have a one size fits all approach to business and product models that are continuously evolving and becoming increasingly diverse.

Those that valiantly try to document their operational processes spend a huge amount of effort at the outset and often underestimate the on-going maintenance requirements. Those that don't try to map processes can never really say that all of their risks are identified and controlled, which in turn can lead to regulatory challenges, including potentially increasing capital held to cover operational risks.

What can firms do?

Process Intelligence could be the answer to these challenges. This takes data from firms' core systems and uses it to map out actual process/transaction flows, meaning firms are no longer solely reliant on the collective knowledge of their staff sitting in a room and whiteboarding what they think happens. With the best will in the world, this approach won't identify all of the transactional variants.

When we have used this with clients, in almost every instance the human mapped process greatly over simplifies the actual process with process loops/deviations, control step bypassing and dead ends being commonplace. The diagrams below show an example of the differences that can arise as a result of human versus data driven process mapping.

Human process mapping 180110-210349-RA-OS_Process Intel diagram_before_v2
Data process mapping

180110-210349-RA-OS_Process Intel diagram_after_v2

Using data to map processes gives three core benefits:

  1. Efficiency and smart investing. Process intelligence not only identifies deviations from core processes but also gives insights into the time taken for each process step to be completed (at a staff level) and the number of people involved in a process. Both of these give valuable insights for firms looking to increase their operational efficiency (which should be everyone). With most firms starting to invest in robotics and artificial intelligence the insights from Process Intelligence allows smarter investment, using data to identify the areas with the highest return on investment.
  1. Point in time compliance. Control steps being bypassed and processes not being fully mapped is the kind of stuff keeping CF10as, Compliance Officers and Senior Management Function holders awake at night. Using Process Intelligence allows firms to validate that their CASS and wider operational control frameworks are complete and robust, and if not, to take swift action to address this. 
  1. Ongoing compliance and efficiency. Having a robust control framework at a point in time is only half the battle. The other half is maintaining this for both intended and unintended process changes, for example, resulting from defective system changes. Once Process Intelligence has been rolled out, this can be run relatively simply on an ongoing basis, helping to identify changes to processes which can then be addressed appropriately. This also has a huge benefit in cost saving, eliminating the need to continually refresh manually mapped out process documentation - a risky and expensive business. 

Although not Client Asset (‘CASS’) specific, the benefits of Process Intelligence for CASS are clear; providing clarity of the current state and allowing firms to manage their ongoing CASS risks by implementing effective, complete controls.

In summary, Process Intelligence can be used across an organisation for both cost and risk management; eliminating the hunt for the "except whens ..."

Ben Higgin | Partner
Profile | Email | +44 (0)772 546 5393

Rob Anderson | Senior Manager
Profile |rob.anderson@pwc.com| +44 (0)771 548 7344

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