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Through a research period of four months, Eventful Conferences has conducted extensive interviews with 50+ chemical industry companies, and held two roundtable events in key chemical industry locations – Philadelphia, PA and Houston, TX. The intention of the research is to summarize the most common and critical challenges that the industry must address – crucial to their success. These pain points have been identified by the industry during the roundtables and throughout the interviews. The Best Practices for Chemicals Conference will strive to address each challenge, pain point and trend by providing solution-oriented presentations, backed by specific evidence and packaged to provide the audience with clear takeaways on how to achieve similar results.

In this issue we will discuss Business Process Optimization and how to strike the best balance between standardization and differentiation. If you missed or would like to revisit the previous entries in our series, please follow the links below.

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 1: Mergers, Acquisitions & Divestitures

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 2: Digitizing the Chemical Enterprise

Strategic Imperatives for the Chemical Industry – Part 3: Analytics & Reporting

 

  1. Business Process Optimization

Business processes for a number of our companies seem to dictate the type of technology used – with workarounds specifically coded to meet a business process need, instead of the business process being adjusted to work with new technology. As a result, when new implementations or migrations occur, customizations often need to be fully re-worked. The amount of effort and resources required for implementations and migrations thus feels especially daunting. And the problem is cyclical – once reworked for the latest iteration, the coding becomes so specialized that the next iteration is even more challenging.

As a result, companies are looking to reconsider “standard SAP”, reducing or eliminating customizations and making business processes work with the technology available. This could reduce costs by reducing the instances being run and the integration and alignment challenges, and can also make aspects of growth – mergers, acquisitions – far easier and faster.

There are still hindrances, though, to this line of thinking – many processes and knowledge bases are tribal, and no real process maps exist to clearly demonstrate what sort of changes need to be made. Decisions made decades ago were often not documented and organizational knowledge has been retired. As a result, many questions remain on how to best optimize business processes to meet business needs.

  • How do I know if I should configure or customize? How can I know what is right for my business?
  • How can I get more value out of what I already have?
  • What are best practices for mapping processes? Who needs to be involved?
  • How do I get by-in on process changes, particularly from the more veteran staff who are less open to change? How do I ensure maximum adoption of changes?
  • Can I leverage my current investments and still simplify? Am I stuck with my customizations?
  • How do I audit my systems to identify what I already have that can help me move away from customization?
  • What is the roadmap for non-customized systems? How do I ensure that my investment in simplification meets my needs in the long-term?

To get answers to these and many more questions come and visit us at the Best Practices for Chemicals Conference, being held in Houston on April 4-6, 2017!

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