One of the World's Largest Brewers Taps BPM as a "Silver Bullet" for Faster Customer Response - InformationWeek

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One of the World's Largest Brewers Taps BPM as a "Silver Bullet" for Faster Customer Response

Field Report: Molson Coors, Golden, Colo.

Field Report: Molson Coors, Golden, Colo.

It took Coors several years to sort out its approach to business process management (BPM), but now that its strategy is in place, early wins have included a 75-percent reduction in order lead times. The company is taking BPM enterprisewide, and its new performance measurement features are aimed at cutting process cycle times across the board.

Before its BPM initiatives began in 2000, Coors had a jumble of departmentalized process fragments, some handled in SAP and others in various legacy systems, and no clear plan on how to pull everything together. The supply chain was the top priority for process improvement.

"From the distributors' perspective, we were ranked near the bottom for customer service in terms of fulfilling orders and meeting delivery dates," says Bob Bonacci, director of business process management. "Distributors usually sell competitive products, so it was a problem."

Bonacci was spearheading an IT-led supply chain improvement project, but the team wasn't collaborating with business users. At about the same time, Coors hired business architect Debra Boykin in July 2001 to implement IDS Scheer's ARIS software for documenting and designing processes, but the company didn't recognize the need to coordinate the separate efforts.

"I was pretty much on my own trying to promote a top-down approach, and Bob and his team were working from the bottom up. Business users didn't know what they were getting," Boykin explains. "The approaches just didn't match."

By early 2003 both executives were calling for shared business process models, so Boykin joined Bonacci's team and work soon began on an overall architecture for end-to-end processes across management, marketing, sales, supply chain and operations. The group chose BusinessGenetics' Extended Business Modeling Language (XBML) as a common (business and IT) language for describing and modeling processes.

"XBML helped us communicate and connect the processes with the business need," says Bonacci. Working with process owners and subject-matter experts from the business side, the team explicitly described process-related activities, timeframes, locations, roles, information and flows.

The first project to go live, in September 2003, was the new supply chain process. It took six months to stabilize, according to Bonacci, but it has improved customer service dramatically.

"Before we implemented the new process, distributors had to order four weeks ahead. Now, they can order one week out," Bonacci says. Short lead times are important because demand can hinge on coordination with marketing campaigns and local events, such as a sports team making it into the playoffs.

Process development is well underway in Coors' marketing and operations areas, while documentation and modeling are just beginning in management and sales. The next step is deploying IDS Scheer's ARIS Process Performance Manager (PPM) module and SAP NetWeaver. PPM will support key process performance indicators while NetWeaver will be used for business process monitoring, configuration, control and execution. Better process control and continuous cycle time improvement will move the organization "closer to the idea of the real-time enterprise," says Boykin.

— Doug Henschen

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