Posted by: Adam Deane | 21/07/2010

BPM and Dieting

BreadLike most of us, I’m currently on a diet.
Nothing drastic. Just want to remove a bit of the puppy fat that suddenly appeared.

Eating a lot of apples. Keeping away from the bread.

Years ago I was asked to implement a workflow process at one of the small bread companies.
Their new customer on-boarding process was taking way too long – 14 days !!!
No new shop is going to wait 14 days for approval to be supplied bread.
They were losing potential customers to their competitors.

Like in a lot of companies, the problems were classic BPM issues:
Finance required lengthy credit checks.
Delivery department needed time to set up delivery routes.
Drivers needed to be informed about route changes.
Sales were bogged down with paperwork.

I’d love to say that the BPMS software and my technical ability were the reason for the successful solution, but they weren’t.
The reason the solution succeeded – was because I was bored.

I’m a techie at heart. Let me get on with the creative stuff.
But sometimes I’m dragged into design workshops. Not that I’m bad at design. The opposite. It’s just that I find the “yada, yada, yada” kind of meetings quite boring.
So here I was in the boardroom. Sales and IT on one side of the table. Finance and management on the other.
Yada, yada, yada…..yada, yada, yada…. yada, yada, yada.

After 45 minutes of boring bickering between the sides, I stood up.
Suddenly the room went quite. Everyone watching what I was going to do next.
I walked over to the whiteboard and drew a quick workflow.
• Sales
• Administration Update
• Credit Check
• Production Approval
• Delivery Approval

I then turned around and said:
“Instead of doing the steps one after the other – how about we do them in parallel”.

“but, but, but ” said the finance team.
“but, but, but ” said the sales team.
….another 10 minutes of discussion and we all agreed on the idea.
In the follow up meetings with the finance team we even came up with business rules that would automatically approve customers in low risk postcodes (95% approved) while the full credit checks ran. The company was willing to risk losing revenue on a small fraction of cases if it meant a shorter overall approval cycle.

I was up onsite for a couple of weeks. Lovely bunch of people.
We cut the sales cycle time from 14 days to 2 days. Impressive.

So the customer was happy, and the solution simple
– but how does that help you with your diet?

Well, it goes like this: During my stay there, one of the developers took me on a tour of the bread factory.
It’s a factory, nothing special, work-floor, ovens, conveyor belts.
Dough goes in one side, bread comes out the other.

“What’s that cube at the end of the dough line?” I asked.
“Oh that” said the developer “that is a metal detector”
It turns out that a disgruntled employee had been putting needles into the dough. The company didn’t want to take any chances and installed a metal detector on the dough line.

Needles in your bread…
I’ve got a feeling you will be cutting down on your bread intake in the coming weeks.
See – I told you I’d help you with your diet.

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