Looking at The BP Oil Situation From a Process Perspective

by Emily McKenzie on Thu, May 27, 2010 @ 04:57 PM
The BP Oil situation in the gulf is a headline story for every major news outlet.  While everyone has their own opinion about off-shore drilling and the impact it has on the environment, I truly hope the "top kill" procedure works as the people and wildlife in the region need relief immediately.  I see in the news that BP has set up a formal claims process for people who have incurred damage from the spill.  As my perspective of the world is from the "process view", I immediately wondered in what ways BP has set up such a process.  Here is what I see from reviewing their claims submission web pages:
  • No understanding of how the process flows
    • BP does provide some textual explanations of how parts of their process are to be handled, but there is general description of the master process itself.
  • No process visibility
    • After filling out the claims form, it is sent to a BP claims processing center. There is seemingly no way to understand where in the process the claim is, without making a formal request into BP for an update (or hearing from BP themselves
  • No understanding of how fast the process will execute
    • On their claims web page, BP states this "Submitted claims will be processed promptly." "Promptly" seems pretty vague to me.


BPM increases visibility

These three points are arguably "BPM 101" errors.  Errors like these cause frustrations with process users and, in fact, corrode confidence in the process itself.  If I was in the role of Chief Process Officer at BP, I would immediately make the following changes:

  • Provide a graphical representation of the process on a customer facing web page. Most people I talk with immediately latch onto pictures rather than long passages of text.
  • Provide a customer service style web page with the following features:
    • The ability to retrieve the claim information by entering in the claim number
    • An audit trail listing of all activity that has occurred with the claim to date
    • Updated information on which steps are left to complete the claims process
    • A feedback section where claims filers can comment on their claims process experience
  • Provide electronic updates to claim filers giving them information on planned next steps (where the updates could be configurable for specific email addresses, social networking sites (if desired) and how often should the updates be sent)

I understand the number of people filing claims with BP will be large and an argument might be that the number of options you provide in a process could imply the process will be harder to manage.  But I do not agree with this argument.  In fact, if the process has a large number of people involved in it, then not being informative and flexible makes the process harder to manage. This situation is a perfect example of where a BPM Suite can play a significant role and fits into the management of real world events.


Relevant Links:

The Greater Good of BPM: Taking a Step Back

BPM- A Sustainable Strategy for Your Company

Process Automation- Think Outside the Box


Chris Adams
VP Product and Technology

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This post was written by Emily McKenzie