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Business process transformation; a means or an end?

by Marcy Rizzo

August 26, 2010

I have been interviewing many people around the world, responsible for their part of the supply chain, across diverse industries, and in all different roles.

There is a common thread and it is an exciting trend.

Not because it optimizes some bit of technology (but it does), or that big dollars are being made (“saved” is a more accurate conclusion). It is exciting because the practice of business process transformation engages, and inspires employees.

At first, as I collected proposals on this topic, I wasn’t optimistic. There was an assumption that this short phrase, along with the content that followed, was going down the same road as “paradigm shift.” But there is substance behind the words; Money is being saved, people are making connections, processes are becoming leaner, smarter, and aligned. Teams are being established by default or design because people start to understand their affect: and hence dependency upon one another.

These teams need incentives. Business process transformation is a shell of possibility without 2 pillars of support: transparency, and measurability. Executive leadership often doesn’t see the day-to-day inefficiencies, workarounds, and back pedaling that occurs on the plant floor, or in the planning offices, or within the design team. The day one person takes charge (for lack of a better word), people start to change things from within, and executive leadership stands up to notice.

Sure the idea needs to be “sold.” It will inevitably cost; albeit time or resources. But from what I’ve seen; when peo ple reach a certain point of frustration, and yet still see a kernel of possibility; leadership is only one decision away, for anyone, at any given time. Recently I had an interview with a speaker, inquiring: “if they embarked upon their project from the start as a “business transformation” initiative, or was it the result of efforts along the way. He chuckled, and I knew he had asked himself the same thing. There is no transformation without replacing resignation with resolve. And it is called “process” for a reason.

The meaning of “transformation” is not achieved without a struggle; it is a BIG word! Supply chain leaders are making their case. You’ll see for yourself. There will be many business process transformation types of sessions, along with how those processes then map to SAP technology, and the optimization therein.

The SAP Insider Logistics & SCM, Procurement, Manufacturing, PLM, and CRM programs run concurrently in Orlando in March, and in Paris in April  I think of these programs as one big conference, where content supports the “idea-to-delivery” process; including tools, technology, and business process design. The agenda is being built now, and I promise it is going to be eye-opening.

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