In late 1996, we were asked by the London Stock Exchange to tender for a system to automate the UK Listings process. This project greatly accelerated our learning about team-working, process automation, relationship management/enforcement and building to allow for future expansion – all key features of our current solutions.

At that time, though, there was no viable alternative development environment to Lotus Notes, for what were becoming known as knowledge management applications, so a Notes application was proposed.

This project greatly accelerated our learning about teamworking, process automation, relationship management/enforcement and building to allow for future expansion – all key features of our current solutions.

Later christened ELSA, this was built in conjunction with a team from the LSE, going live early in 1998 and winning an Economist publication “Knowledge Capture & Access Award” in the following November (read article). The following key functionality emerged as critical for the success of the system:

  • Professional knowledge stored for reuse:
  • Rapid access to shared knowledge
  • Leverage key professional time and know-how
  • Process knowledge embedded in workflow:
  • Automation of routine process related tasks
  • Step change in efficiency of processes

Generic system for all groups:

  • Scaleable, expandable, replicable system
  • Step change in visibility of processes & knowledge:
  • Articulating existing processes uncovers ambiguities and gaps
  • Scope for process innovation
  • Flexible teams and open communication enabled
  • Automatic status and progress reporting
  • Web enabled (Internet, intranet, extranet scope)
  • Internal processes addressed before opening up to world (Extranet, WAW)

The Stock Exchange realised that they were implementing a system that would eventually become a Wide Area Workflow solution, embracing the processes of external organisations (sometimes referred to as an Extranet). As such they realised that, as they “exposed” their internal processes to the outside world, through embracing the web/e-commerce etc, it would be critical to anticipate potential internal processes issues that would emerge. The internal processes needed to be capable of responding to the issues presented by the following drivers:

  • Effectively “routing” external interactions to the right individuals
  • A knowledge base to support coherent messages to the market
  • Multiple electronic entry points into the organisation
  • Disintermediation/reconfiguration of the value chain
  • Inclusion of partners in value-adding business processes

The application integrated a portfolio of Notes databases – a case file, company file, document templates, business rules, regulatory news archives, precedents and Listings rules. All the information in the ELSA Notes databases – not just in the case file – was organised in a uniform general “case” format to simplify user training and to allow the system to be extended into other departments in the Stock Exchange. Other functions included:

  • A help desk to record the advice given to Stock Exchange customers
  • A case management system to support the “Review and Approve” process. A case contains the document referring new Listings proposal:
  • Checklists
  • Letters, faxes, etc
  • Records of phone calls/meetings
  • Case review documents
  • Time based triggersgeneral comments, notes, images and so on.

Much of the creation of checklists, standard letters and summaries was automated, triggered during progress through a case. The system was also used to support the “Monitor and Enforce” process: member companies’ transactions (such as directors’ share dealings and filing of accounts) were carried electronically by the Stock Exchange Regulatory News Service (RNS). RNS event records were then loaded, processed and stored in ELSA. Events were then automatically checked against Listings rules and company file, and then reviewed by Stock Exchange professionals.