A Room Full of BPXs
That’s what I found when I traveled to Philadelphia this week to participate in the Philadelphia Chapter meeting of ABPMP(Association for Business Process Management Professionals) held in Widener University.
According to Steve Desirey, Vice President and chapter chair, ABPMP has become a leading professional society for business process management professionals in the US; the organization originates in Chicago with regional representation in a number of locations with Philadelphia being the largest chapter in the US, presently. It was an opportunity to meet Steve Desirey, whose credentials as a BPX include serving as Business Process Owner for Demand and Supply Planning initiating DuPont’s Sales and Operations Planning Influence Council for SAP and who now consults for SAIC. I also met program chair Natalie Collaut, another professional with an impressive SAP background (in manufacturing) and a Process Improvement Specialist leading the effort to improve the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the PMI(Project Management Institute).
Besides hosting the meeting, Widener University is also home to Yvonne Antonucci and Sue Greenburg, professors providing Business Process Management training and accreditation in Widener’s Department of MIS/Decision Science and Business Administration. I was really intrigued to hear a presentation by George F. Diehl, Air Product’s global director of Process Management and manager of Air Product’s Process Management Center of Excellence: a BPX in action.
Diehl presented to the approximately 40 Business Process Experts who had gathered for their bi-monthly meeting and his presentation described his company’s journey to becoming a process centric company and the financial rewards that accompanied that evolution.
Air Products is a MYSAP ERP 2005 implementation and the presentation: “Linking Strategy, Process Management, and Results”, told the story of Air Product’s process-focused organization, their process improvement model, and their successful financial results directly linked to their process management practices. Diehl provided an additional link. This time to an article dated March 1, 2007 in Industry Week, a further validation of his story, and it was interesting to note SAP prominently appearing in the article’s copy.
Although Air Products is a chemical company, George Diehl was not yet aware of the BPX community nor the newly launched BPX Chemical Homepages, yet he spoke emphatically of his company’s culture of validating capability-building by asking “what do other companies do”. He stated: “we are not bashful – if you are willing to share we are willing to adopt”. Such a spirit of sharing would make Air Products a perfect candidate for peer-to-peer collaboration in the BPX Chemical community. We hope to welcome George and the experience of his company’s center of excellence to our fold shortly.
But there was another ABPMP member who had taken note of the BPX Chemical Industry page launch. Richard J. Powers, approached me after the presentation to share that he not only is a BPX community member but he also gave an example of how knowledge transfer on our community pages and in peer collaboration in our forums, blogs and wikis could impact a company’s strategy and awareness of industry specific standards and improve a company’s process management efforts. Richard is Director of Advanced Technology and Architecture for the FMC Corporation, and it’s Chemical Information Technology. He described how just 2 weeks ago, reading the first blog provided on the newly launched chemical page of BPX: “No Data no Market – The Impact of REACh and How to Comply” was eye-opening, a testament to the positive impact of our BPX community.
George Diehl is an excellent presenter. He modestly claimed that any of his colleagues could have presented his contents, further evidence of his company’s commitment to the overall strategy and vision of Air Product’s “Deliver the Difference” approach.
Among some quotes from his presentation: “most of the money is at the interface of functions…all you have to do is get two functions to work together” (that sounds a great deal like the role of composer in BPX lingo) he also spoke of the journey to process centricity as a “Revolution by Evolution” which he later described as being akin to renovating the house while you are still living in it. (Any of us having survived a house renovation can appreciate the analogy). You have to keep the house functional, operational and livable even while undergoing a pretty huge metamorphosis.
Change management was certainly a central theme and Diehl quoted Machiavelliwho wrote: “nothing more difficult to take in hand more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success….than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things…” There were also hints that the process of change is not always a comfortable one when he quoted Goethe– “in the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm – in the real world , all rests on perseverance”.
Really inspiring was the fact that George could illustrate ideas often seen as academic and esoteric with concrete examples of results and improvements.
It was interesting to note the contrast Diehl made of process manager to project manager and process execution to project prioritizations. His process improvement model included a diagram of the integration of process execution and project prioritization with a governance board sitting in the middle. Almost any of his slide deck could be expanded to a full blog here in the BPX context, and I imagine illustrated with compelling and concrete examples.
Also noteworthy: the theme of managing by metrics. George spoke of enterprise, operational, and business metrics and the cross-functional teamwork involved in the measuring process. I think I noted a number of familiar SAP dashboards embedded in his presentation to accompany and illustrate his points.
Given all the talk in our community around plagiarism, I particularly enjoyed a final quip George made about learning from other organizations. Idea mongering was put in a most positive light when George said it was encouraged to SWIPE (which he joked really means: “Stealing With Integrity and Pride”). At the heart of positive collaboration is also the ability to use other’s ideas, successes, and methods to improve one’s own processes.
I think we have much to steal ….er …learn…from Air Products. I hope they will be further sharing their Business Process Expertise with our BPX community.