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Appian World 2012 Business Track: Extending BPM in the Mobile Age - Archstone

Alena Davis, Appian
April 17, 2012

Completing the business track at Appian World 2012, David Carpenter, Director of BPM at Archstone, presented "Extending BPM in the Mobile Age." Archstone has a rich mobile BPM story. Archstone is a recognized Leader in apartment investment and operations, with a portfolio concentrated in many of the most desirable neighborhoods in and around Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York, and more. Carpenter's role is to craft and execute the BPM strategy at Archstone.

Archstone's goal for Business Process Management is "Making Archstone the easiest company with which to work." In March 2012, they delivered 32 parent processes delivered representing 95 individual request types. With over 2,000 associates actively using the solution, 1,000 instances are started weekly. Sample processes include:

    • New hire onboarding

    • Systems access requests

    • Community acquisitions

    • Wire transfer requests

Archstone uses one single platform, the Appian BPM Suite, for multiple applications. The more applications they create, the more the effort decreases.

Carpenter discussed some of Archstone's business challenges, which include remote connectivity and a mobile workforce. Their goal is to mobile enable, focus on the quantity and quality of processes, and improve the overall user experience.

One application Archstone has created is Associate EZUpdates, for personnel & system requests such as new hire onboarding and application access. The application serves all 2,000+ associates at Archstone. Requests require approvals, and approvers are often remote, so Archstone was able to dramatically shorten the request cycle by enabling approvals on mobile devices.

The benefits of this and other applications have been substantial. According to Carpenter, Business and IT benefits of BPM included:

    • 40,000+ requests (instances) handled last year

      • 32 major processes

      • 95 individual request types

      • Used by almost every associate

    • Improvements in data gathering, data accuracy & cycle times

    • Focus on service and efficiency helped Archstone achieve an excellent Net Promoter Score of +52%

    • Soft benefits:

      • Consistency, faster completion times, less rework, better accountability

      • Outstanding reputation within the organization

      • Working through project backlog

When talking about lessons learned from implementing BPM, Carpenter stressed the importance of training, training, and more training. Constant communication and continuous improvement are also very important -- you can't let a process become stagnant. Finally, usability is key -- if users can't easily participate in the process, it will hurt adoption.

Archstone's roadmap for the future is focused on accommodating a mobile workforce. They're working towards becoming browser/device agnostic (which is a feature of Appian 7), and improving their existing processes. They also plan on more integration with property management tools and PeopleSoft. The future looks bright - and mobile - for Archstone!