Modeling employee background checks

An independent employment screening company turns to BPM for sourcing and distributing verification information to customers

Sterling testing systems never actually called the solution they came up with BPM (business process management) until after the fact, says Paul Mladineo, vice president of strategic development.

But Mladineo and his team, headed up by CTO Michael Richardson, certainly understood the challenges faced by their company, which specializes in pre-employment screening and background checks. They ultimately chose a BPM system from Fuego for the task.

"The data we collect is a commodity, not proprietary," Mladineo says. The task, then, was to differentiate the company's services from the competition, which taps the same information.

Because the data is publicly available, Mladineo knew that the data quality, delivery, and services wrapped around the information was how they could achieve this. However, Sterling faced one additional challenge: Managing and mapping unique customized services for 4,000 customers was not what Mladineo called "commercially efficient."

What was needed was a BPM solution that could model the sourcing processes and reuse process components where applicable -- and then employ logical branching in order to accommodate a wide variety of clients and services. "Employment verification for day care centers is quite different than licensing for driving a tractor trailer," Mladineo says, and yet the process of employment verification itself has some common attributes.

The IT goal was to expose meaningful results to clients with many different formats and kick off alerts, in some cases using XML messaging, and to do it on a scale that could accommodate Sterling's numerous clients.

"With this repository of process components, we can build, configure, and test processes, and it doesn't require hard-coding," Richardson says.

The process started with flowcharting the "as-is" business processes, which gave them the opportunity to automate and reuse pieces of the processes that were similar and then to use branching to accommodate customization.

"It is one thing to do that with a Word document that is sent around, but another thing entirely to translate that to a logical infrastructure running on servers," Richardson says.

The ultimate goal is to cut the amount of time it takes to complete a typical piece of work by 25 to 40 percent. Of course, there is always a disconnect between design and execution.

"Using Fuego, we were able to create the connections between the theoretical process and execution by having a common visualization tool used by both the technical folks and business folks," Richardson says.

Is it a roaring success? Mladineo says it is still early in production, and they don't have a full set of data back, but the mere process of modeling the current system has brought to the surface inefficiencies in the production level. "The rigor required to do it with a tool forced a lot of internal discussion."

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