BPM? Just do it!
I’m sitting in on a webinar about how Nike implemented BPM in their credit claims department, and it turns out that “just do it” is more than just an ad slogan, it’s their internal mantra as well. That means that they’re always looking for a better way to do things. Like most other large multi-nationals, their infrastructure grew organically until they reached a point where they had to do some serious retrofits in order to be able to operate like a truly global organization rather than an American company with operations in other companies (a distinction made by the speaker from Nike, which is also one that I’ve used many times to describe businesses that don’t quite get how to work internationally). The speaker, Jim Sarvay, was the executive in charge of credit claims
(whose last name that I missed) was the project manager on the BPM implementation.
The process discussed in today’s webinar is the credit claims process part of their supply chain, which is basically any time that a customer pays less than the invoiced amount, which can be due to any part of the supply chain process — either within Nike or at the customer — being broken along the way.
On of Jim’s slides was titled “Speed Matters. Slow Sucks.”, which pretty much sums it up for any type of supply chain process, and if you don’t have a handle on what’s slowing your processes down and how to fix it, then it’s going to suck. In Nike’s case, they had a number of parts of the process that weren’t integrated with their main SAP system, particularly communications with their suppliers and customers: it was the usual mix of e-mail, EDI, faxes, paper documents and everything else that you could imagine.
Their strategy for fixing their supply chain problems centred around four factors: documents (content available in a central repository), people (the right person doing the right job at the right time), internal controls (processes supporting policies), and process (flexible, repeatable best practices to improve cycle time).
They picked Global 360 for BPM, with Fillmore Technology doing the implementation based on Global 360’s recommendation. They also looked at IBM and FileNet, and although the Jim didn’t originally talk about their criteria for making the decision, he said that Global 360 worked best for them. In the Q&A at the end of the webinar, there was a question about how the vendor was selected; apparently, Global 360 was Jim’s last choice after reviewing the proposals, but jumped to top spot after responding to questions and giving a demo partnered with Fillmore, wherein they proved that they were focussed on solving the business problem rather than selling a product. From what he said, it sounded like one of the other two vendors was the incumbent document management vendor and was unseated, although that wasn’t perfectly clear.
He listed their organizational success factors: a compelling story, executive support, a dedicated cross-functional team, and superior consulting and tools (he said some very nice things about Fillmore Technology, who did the implementation). Their results were pretty impressive: a 6-month payback on their investment, reduced cycle time to 1-15 days from the 120 days that it used to be, and improved relationships with their customers because of the faster claims resolution process. They’re now looking at how they can roll BPM out to other parts of their organization, both in other claims areas and in different applications such as foreign trade/customs documents and order management processes, and seem pretty pumped about the potential to see the same type of wins in other deployments.
They did a staged implementation over a matter of months, with the first stage rolled out in about 5 months from project approval, and the entire planned scope deployed in about 10 months. After that, they started integrating other systems, such as inbound faxes, over the next several months.
Their lessons learned:
- Consider policy first, then process, then people, then tools
- Get senior management buy-in
- “Eat the elephant one bite at a time” — this is so key, and something that I’ve written about many times before: do something small as quickly as possible, then add functionality incrementally
- Rent experts — how can I disagree with this? 🙂
- Leave the rocket scientists at home — in other words, it’s not as complicated as you think it is; keep it simple
- Build a team that you trust and have confidence in — provide direction and support, listen to what they need, and stay out of their way
Aside from the obvious lessons about implementing a successful BPM rollout, this webinar definitely showed the power of an enthusiastic end-customer presentation in getting your message across. If you’re a vendor, consider finding a customer like Jim at Nike to talk about what they’ve done and how successful it was, rather than hiring yourself an analyst for a webinar — it makes all the difference in the world.
The webinar was hosted by Fillmore; I’m not sure if they’ll have a replay available, but you can check their site or maybe someone from Fillmore would be kind enough to add a comment to this post with the replay information.