Supply chain + process means standardize AND differentiate

The following is a guest blog by Tom Molyneux.

Many posts on this blog discuss the value that frameworks, such as APQC, bring to BPM.  But what about the value that having solid, understandable BPM brings to frameworks?  I’ll argue that to get value out of virtually any framework, it is foundational to have a working BPM solution.  Let’s take a widely accepted and rapidly evolving  framework – SCOR.

Over the last quarter century as computerization and automation became the the norm, there’s been a tremendous movement towards standardization methods, vocabulary and ways of doing business.  Back when I went to business school, the term “best practice“ was rarely heard.  Large ERP and CRM initiatives have since led companies to be ever more identical in the activities they perform.  Reference frameworks like APQC and SCOR have encouraged businesses to adopt the more and more of a common way of experessing process.  Even in the BPM world, the ever growing use of process templates and accelerators has reinforced this standardization.  In this world of uniformity, where all industry players are relentlessly moving toward doing the same best things in the same best ways, where is value stored?

People and culture

Let’s take SCOR (the Supply Chain Council’s Supply Chain Operations Reference model) as an example.  For those not familiar with SCOR, it is a comprehensive and configurable model of all supply chain activities that includes a common:

  • language to describe supply chains so everyone’s on the same page
  • processes
  • best practices
  • skills, aptitudes and training

The model is extremely powerful.  Since supply chain costs typically make up 60-90% of overall costs, small improvements can often yield huge results.

So, what doesn’t it do?  It can’t be home to your processes – the unique way you do things.  It can’t store, keep, foster and nurture those special ways your company behaves that sets you apart…your secret sauce.  The true value in your company is NOT found in doing things in the standard way for your industry – your competitors do all of the predictable things, like adopting a new ERP system, process template or reference model.  The real trick is to match or exceed performance benchmarks while maintaining what sets you apart.

The answer is to find a home for your processes.  A home big enough not just for SCOR processes but for all your process-based initiatives.  Also, a way to assign ownership to the processes so they can change and not simply become artifacts of last year’s hot project.  Oh, and a way to make sure that your end users can actually find, understand, and perform the activities.  A robust Business Process Management platform can be this home.  We’ve long recognized the value of all enterprise accounting data being housed in a single database-based system that provides clear ownership, access, controls and up-to-date and “correct” value of accounts.  Our processes – the way we do things – are every bit as important to the success of the enterprise.  Isn’t it time to treat them in the same way?

Keep what truly differentiates your business while capturing the benefits that a widely accepted and standardized approach provides.

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Categories: BPM

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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