Today we can observe 2 trends:
1. In order to increase the operative margins IT budgets stay flat or are even reduced year by year. In this situation IT-organizations are forced to find creative ways to run their system landscapes and applications more efficiently with even melting resources. 2. Consumer Product Companies have to innovate much faster. Due to the increasing pressure of the retailcustomers, the more and more unpredictable behavior of the consumers and the continuously changing legal compliance frameworks CP manufacturers need to adjust their business processes much faster to both stay up-to-date and gain competitive advantage. Unfortunately this results in the dilemma to approach and solve challenges in parallel. On the one hand the lines of business start to discuss ways how to gain competitive advantage by adjusting the business processes. Meanwhile on the other hand the IT organization thinks about streamlining the system landscape, how to simplify the IT-landscape and replacing homegrown custom solutions with standard software. This can lead to difficult situations.
The following example makes it transparent:
Think about a global CP manufacture with different lines of businesses. This company has a very heterogeneous system landscape that grew over years. You will find SAP-systems, homegrown applications as well as applications of other IT vendors. These systems are customized or tailored to the specific requirements of a line of business and/or region. Once you initiate a system consolidation project on corporate level, a key success factor will be to extract and transfer the key and differentiating solution components into the consolidated system. However, you might run into the question Who leads these decision? The line of business or the region? Does one size fits all? The answer to this question is of course influenced by the organizational structure of this company. Lets say that the region owns a system. Loosing control over IT systems is always perceived as loss of power and flexibility, especially if business processes or requirements differ significantly between regions, e.g. the more consolidated distribution network between the US is completely different from more distributed and multi-tier network Asia or South America. On the other side you might pay for this flexibility by coding these changes into the system instead of modeling them because the legacy system doesnt provide modeling capabilities. As you can see there are a lot interdependencies resulting in a variety of challenges to make real business process innovation happen. But there is hope!
Business Process Experts can help to resolve the situation
They are the professionals who can
- document the requirements together with the experts from the functional areas and the IT organization
- make the situation transparent by sharing the facts with the engaged organizational units and the management
- support the functional areas and IT working out proposals and a project schedule
The big question is: How to make this happen?
How can business process experts get in the driver seat and create comprehensible input for discussion in between Business and IT? What are the major steps they could go through to come up with the analysis of the current situation? How can they facilitate the definition of the target scenario? Within my next blog I will share some ideas with you that you might find helpful to make a start in bringing the requirements of functional areas and IT together.