Ford has improved its understanding of its sales leads process using a business process modelling software from Metastorm.

Tim Haigh, Enterprise Architect for European marketing and sales IT portfolio at Ford, told the Forrester Enterprise Architecture Forum EMEA 2010 how he used Metastorm’s ProVision software to help the business prepare for the Government’s car scrappage scheme.

During the recession last year, the UK government joined a number of other European countries when it announced a scheme to encourage people to buy newer and cleaner cars.

"We needed to react within three or four weeks to understand the impact of the government offering a scrappage scheme, and implemented the scrappage model last summer," said Haigh.

"We linked the government advert with a potential leap in sales and asked [ourselves] ‘what’s the impact on the business?'"

Haigh enabled Ford to increase advertising content on its website by modelling the sales and marketing processes that the government announcement would instigate in the business to cope with a potential sudden increase in demand.

The sales and marketing department was also able to provide more information about the scheme for customers via the website, for example, by highlighting the smaller and more economical cars eligible for the scrappage scheme.

"It improved the business understanding of the sales leads process," said Haigh.

CIO 100 listed Ford has been using Metastorm ProVision to create models and analyse its business processes for the past four years.

The software operates on a Windows platform with a SQL server backend. Prior to Metastorm, Ford used Microsoft Office Visio.

"We wanted something that works with the business, as well as IT, audience," said Haigh.

One of the key things that Haigh tries to do with the software is reuse useful data and process models where possible, which is especially important for a large company like Ford, which has to deal with many, complex and different processes.

For example, the company can apply the scrappage scheme model to any situation where it might faces a sudden increase in demand.

However, Haigh warned that the biggest challenge to modelling business processes is "having sufficient accurate information to help with decision making."

Meanwhile, Haigh said that the Metastorm uses 'clip art' style graphics to represent the different functions in a process, which helps non-IT staff understand the process modelling.

He advised: "When you’re creating a model, before you start, try and work out the key audience you’re targeting and what is the question they’ll ask you to answer. If it’s an IT group, it’s fine to go into SOA, XML and so on, but bear in mind that a business person will not need this level of depth."