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SAP SCN Podcast Transcripts

Starting in December of 2007, Jon began a multi-year series of podcasts with the SAP SCN Community team. Many of these have their own transcripts, which you can view here. If you want to check out all the SAP SCN podcasts and download them, go to the SAP SCN Podcast Page.
SAP BPM in Action: How the SAP BPX Community is Impacting BPM Projects - Podcast Transcription Print E-mail
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Podcast Transcription:
SAP BPM in Action: How the SAP BPX Community is Impacting BPM Projects
SAP BPX Community Podcast with Rao Subbarao of Hospira and Greg Chase of SAP
Hosted by Jon Reed of
Podcast Interview Date: September 15, 2010

Jon Reed: Hi, welcome to the BPX Community podcast. I'm your host, Jon Reed of Joining me today is Rao Subbarao of Hospira and Greg Chase, who is with SAP. We are here today to talk about one of my favorite topics: the impact of BPM on SAP environments. There is no one better to talk about this than Rao and Greg.

Rao has been active on the ASUG front in BPM, and during his work with Hospira he picked up some valuable lessons as an early BPM adopter. Meanwhile, Greg has shown a dedication beyond the call of duty to building the BPM resources on the SAP Community Network. Today we are going to get a clear picture of how companies are using SCN to further that BPM strategy, and Rao is going to tell you how they apply these resources at Hospira.

Greg, I want to start with you. The BPM use case wiki and the other BPM conversations amongst these users are really picking up steam. I wondered if you could tell our listeners about what customers are learning from each other and what you are taking from this discussion so far.

Greg Chase: What's really interesting to look at is how the conversation has changed over the last couple of years. Although it was a fairly hot buzzword outside SAP circles a couple of years ago, business process management (BPM) as a topic was relatively new to the SAP community. It was really the release of SAP's tools for BPM, SAP NetWeaver BPM, and also the new version of ASAP - or SAP's implementation methodology ASAP being revised to be more BPM-oriented in its approach - that caused customers to become a lot more interested in the BPM topic. Customers are not just asking what BPM is anymore, but are interested in how to apply BPM to specific problems and how using a BPM approach enables them to achieve the benefits they are looking for faster and in a more agile method.

The BPM use case wiki on SAP's BPX Community was our first shot at trying to make the conversation with BPM a lot more specific by listing out as many good ideas and customer implementations and partner solutions we could find that specifically applied BPM tools and approach to solving white space issues that would not normally be handled by an SAP application.

What's interesting about these is they tend to actually be cross-application, cross-department, and even cross-organizational processes that a single application couldn't address by itself anyway. On this use case wiki we have over 30 use cases, good ideas and customer implementations - and customers can see this as a guide to the different ways they could use BPM.

BPM gets very interesting when you start getting very specific. For example, one area I spend a lot of time with is the topic of applying BPM to information governance. A couple of examples of this would be handling the maintenance and creation of master data, such as customer or materials or supplier master data. We've found many customers that have applied BPM took what was normally an IT concern (e.g., the quality) and made it into a self-service business operation.

Since it is the business folks that are actually creating these data assets, maintaining them and utilizing them, making sure the data is of high quality and stays of high quality really is a business concern, not an IT concern. IT is the enabler of this, so it wouldn't make sense for Business Process in this area to only be an IT focus; they really need to integrate this activity back into the business process. So using the BPM approach and BPM tools turned out to be an excellent application.

Reed: Greg, thanks for that overview. Rao, tell us about Hospira and how you got involved with the BPM work there.

Rao Subbarao: Hospira was the business spun out from Abbott Health Care six or seven years ago. The first few years, the business was focused on establishing itself as an independent organization. Then they became global via main acquisition, and the next few years went into establishing and expanding as a global organization. Recently, the business took a close look at itself to understand where they are and where they would like to be.

As an outcome, they offered our CEO a project optimizing growth and process management. As a result of that, our IT organization partnered with the business, and the outcome was a number of initiatives, some of which are SAP related. One thing the Hospira IT leadership team clearly realized is that without a proper discipline of Business Process Management, we cannot successfully help the businesses enable all the technologies in order to help them succeed. So BPM became the backbone or the foundation for the rest of those initiatives, and that's how we realized the need for a BPM initiative for Hospira.

In my prior experience at Cardinal Health as well, I was asked to champion the support. That's how we started this whole BPM initiative in understanding where we are and where we would like to be and what aspect of BPM is required for each of these initiatives. As Greg mentioned, BPM is a multi-faceted component: it has the design side, the execution side, the discipline side, and we had to make sure we covered all aspects for us to be truly successful.

Reed: Now, you described BPM as a journey. What do companies need to do to get started on this journey and get practical value out of BPM while they're doing it?

Subbarao: First and foremost, I think IT leaders need to understand the sole purpose of information technology, which is to make the business successful. In order to get started on BPM, which is the cornerstone for a successful business enablement via information technology, organizations need to establish a corporate-wide definition of what BPM means to their organization. Then IT needs to understand what success means to their business and how they can use the tools and technologies at their disposal to help the business achieve that.

For example, I'm going to use Hospira as a use case: we realized that we needed BPM, so we had a roadmap where we established that first we needed the discipline component; after that we needed to understand where we were in the maturity, then execution. That's what worked for us. Once we got past the discipline part where we had the processes in place and how we were going to enable these processes via process modeling tools and process monitoring tools, then we enabled the execution tool, which is our BPM. We had actually established a roadmap and identified what part of our journey would enable which technology to help the business succeed.

Having said that, an organization should also undergo a collaborative and uncompromised assessment on where they stand in their process management maturity. This is a very critical step, and this was the first step that Hospira took. This helps the business architects and enterprise architects craft roadmaps for where the business needs to get by what timeframe, and how the organization can get there.

We talk about this use case in one of the upcoming books with Ann Rosenberg, and it's in the community. I don't want to give it all away, but in order to have that kind of roadmap, we need to have a thorough understanding of our business processes and where they are.


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