Business Case, Business Function, Sales, B2B, Manufacturing, Supply Chain

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Value Of Information: Three Decision Criteria -- And Applicability To Cloud Services

Would you like to learn a secret about how to be more successful in the coming year? Either personally, or as a manager or professional?
 
OK, this trashy "come-on"  is only justified because it's almost year end (2012), and time for lots of management how-tos, especially "how to cope with information overload".  Most of the advice is common sense, and if we are very disciplined, might even help us to be more effective.
 
But how about some advice that might actually work?  
 
This blog post is about managing more effectively by considering the cost and utility of information.  So much of our work every day is spent wrestling with information management,  And information has a whole lifecycle, from identification of need, to acquisition, usage, curation and even secure destruction.  In fact, much of common sense management advice is about better information management.  (It's not for nothing that computers and software are collectively known as "information technology".)

Gorillas On A Slimming Plan - Five Limits To Bigness - Including A New "Deficit of Trust"

Geoffrey Moore of "Crossing The Chasm" fame, asked a question on his LinkedIn page concerning possible limitations to the growth of market gorillas ("Why Gorillas Don't Rule Everything").  Understanding the effect of corporate size and concentration is important for both individuals and organizations that must operate in a world defined by monster organizations.   The purpose of this note is to identify the top five factors limiting the optimum size of organizations.

Note that that your host is not making any assumption that corporate size is necessarily a bad thing.  Although it's a separate topic, and acknowledging that there are clearly many downsides to large organizations, there are all also examples, supported by research, showing that large organzations can also have many positive attributes, and that by

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Contingent Workforce Management & BPM Technology - Another Opportunity For Leverage

According to the analysts at Aberdeen Group, on average 26% of world workforce headcount is considered "contingent", including contract and temporary staff.  Clearly contingent labour-force outlays account for a huge portion of total spend.  But Aberdeen asks if this spend is well-managed. 

There are in fact very significant differences between best-in-class and laggard organizations concerning how contingent work is managed.  Best-in-class managers get much better results (over 50% higher reporting program objectives achieved), better contingent workforce cost control and most important, significantly better overall organizational efficiency.  This last benefit gets to the heart of the whole contingent workforce business case. 

Why bother with all the effort and management time to organize contingent workforce scaling if your organization does enjoy overall improved efficiency as a result?

In a world of intense competition, contingent workforce scaling makes intuitive sense, and it's not surprising the Aberdeen Group has identified characteristics of the organizations that "do contingent" better.  But why highlight these insights in this Decision Models forum on business process management technology?

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Accounts Payable & BPM - Aberdeen Group on Best Practices, Governance, Process Capabilities

BPM software advocates need look no further than the regular reports from the analysts at Aberdeen Group for terrific examples of BPM in action.  The latest example, by Analyst William Jan, is AP Invoice Management in a Networked Economy (you can acquire this report without charge for a limited time via the embedded URL; registration is required).

The world of business process is about the processes at the core of any business.  And for this reason unless you are an insider in any given function or vertical market, it's difficult to acquire in-depth knowledge about business processes in real life.  Organizations tend to be reticent about revealing the secrets about how they do business; and as well, in any given function the processes reflect the complexity of corporate life and one is not likely to master that complexity over night. 

So, for these reasons, the work by Aberdeen Group is very welcome.  Their analysis work focuses especially on identifying best practices in various corporate functions, such as sales, accounts payables, inventory management, and so on.  And although Aberdeen Group includes technology in its analyses, their work is refreshingly "business first".

The case of Accounts Payable is a nice example of an end-to-end process analysis of an important corporate function.  Using A/P practices as a measure, and compared to "laggards", best-in-class organizations manage their A/P to deliver much better cash flow, which can have a huge impact on bottom lines. 

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Will 2012 Be "The Year Of Living BPM"? MDM, Governance & Validation Challenges

Your host started his IT career at IDC, in the previous millennium.  Working for IDC gives one a perspective on analyst relations with vendors and end-users.  Analysts are little bit like movie reviewers -- they like technology as much as movie reviewers like movies.  And the economics of the technology analysis business is such that it's difficult for analysts not to be cheerleaders for technology, in the same way that movie reviewers find it difficult not to be cheerleaders for movies, or, considering the subject of this website, cheerleading for BPM software. . . . read more

McKinsey On Sales Process Failures -- Also, John's Comment -- "Ironic Lack Of Theory"

Unused PhoneThe boffins at McKinsey have just issued a stirring call to "free the reps"!

According to the consulting company, at one representative global firm, 75% of inside sales reps' time was spent not selling!

This frustrating sales situation is not uncommon, despite what McKinsey says is "the guiding principle of all sales operations", which is "to maximize time for selling and relationship building".  Of course sales people and sales executives, and probably even general management, all know that sales people should be selling.  But given that sales people everywhere are facing similar issues, it's helpful to have a spotlight on the situation.

As a professional B2B sales person focused on BPM, your host is naturally interested in the subject of the McKinsey article -- and how BPM is one point of leverage for improving sales operations.  The McKinsey article also raises larger questions about sales management; your host has now commented on these issues in the letter below. 

You can read the whole McKinsey Quarterly article and follow up reader comments including your hosts' comment, at the following URL. (Please note you will need to register, although there is no charge.)

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When Worlds Collide -- Or Don't -- BPM & Business Simulation

BPM prospects often ask a question about "simulation".  Our standard answer is "simulation is best done by a best-of-breed business simulation product, outside of BPM".  This answer is usually delivered after some qualification to discover what the prospect means by "simulation".  Some of the time the prospect is concerned about technical simulations and the regular process of software QA.  But the majority of the time the prospect wants to be able to do business what-if simulations to answer questions such as "how many warehouse staff should we have" or "should we add a new warehouse in the Midwest".

Why is the BPM business simulation question so frequently asked?  The reason is that the question is directly related the two main business cases for BPM.  BPM is justified either on efficiency terms or on business model terms.  The BPM efficiency business case is the same IT efficiency business case that has driven most IT investments for two generations.  Efficiency in the best of situations is about dramatically reducing costs for a given business process; in the worst of situations, it's about "paving the cow path"!

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BPO, B2B Integration, and MDM Opportunity

Takeaway Summary:   According to the theory of Nobel Prize winning economist Ronald Coase, corporations exist to manage the transaction costs involved in organizing work.  And the size of a corporation is determined by the optimal management of those costs.  However, new information technologies have changed that transaction cost landscape for business processes.  It is now more than ever possible to disaggregate the work of the firm, and still maintain corporate identity and control.  And for the intercompany integration technology business, the good news is that integration technologies have a leading role to play in this evolut . . . read more

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