Planning as part of Business Flows

On September 20th we have launched our latest Business Flows Release. One of the new features has been the End-to-End Domain of Forecast-to-Plan (F2Pl). The new release raised many registrations for the free trial of Business Flows. But is also raised a lot of questions with regards to Forecast-to-Plan. In response to these questions, I am writing this blog and we have updated the F2Pl domain profile on our website.

The nature of planning is less procedural and sequential as many other business domains. And supply chain planning is very industry, company, business unit and even plant or production line specific. In addition, the planning horizon of a planning task impacts detailed activities. These circumstances also influences the character of our Forecast-to-Plan domain. It emphasizes the necessity of integration, interaction and feedback loops to and from the other domains and planning disciplines.

Reference planning landscape - integration into operational domains

The domain is structured in a reference planning landscape for manufacturing industries, which perfectly ties into the existing Business Flows model as both are build on a SCOR-like foundation.

Five planning disciplines create the heart of our reference landscape and are considered as scenario clusters in the F2Pl domain. These disciplines are: Demand Planning, Distribution Planning, Production Planning, Procurement Planning and Master Planning. The orchestration of these disciplines is key and lies in the responsibility of the Sales and Operations Planning function (S&OP).

The planning disciplines are tightly integrated into the corresponding operational domains. Each domain has a different character which are described in the corresponding domain profiles on our website:

Due to the highly strategic nature of Strategic Network Planning (SNP) we currently do not elaborate on the interconnection with Forecast-to-Plan in more detail. And there are further interfaces that are of interest depending on your specific situation. Just to name some:

The orchestration of planning disciplines and integration into operational domains is covered on level 1 and level 2 of our reference process model. These integration points to SNP, A2R, L2O and P2D are considered in the advisory notes of the Business Flows reference model.

Impact of projects and business transformation

Planning is impacted by projects in a different way than by the operational domains. In addition, the effects depend on the kind of project. On the one hand, there are projects in engineer-to-order environments that need to be considered. On the other hand, there are more strategic projects that influence the supply capacities or demand generation and in effect the planning. Such are projects like construction of new production facilities, re-designing the supply setup during network optimization, M&A or carve-outs, R&D product development, launching a new brand or addressing new markets or sales channels.

In the end, all these kind of projects can be summarized as business transformation. And how do you consider ongoing transformation in planning? The answer to this cannot be provided in a reference model. But we are convinced that Planning needs to constantly adapt itself in order to cope with the changing environment. Exactly herein lies the motivation of our Resilient Planning approach. Besides comprehensive and consistent data, and integration into operational domains, the consideration of ongoing transformation is a key challenge in planning.

For more insights, please:


Synopsis - bpExpert's Business Transformation Day 2019 @ Merck

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Depending on the objective of your BPM initiative your process documentation will differ in its underlying architecture and methodology, the manner in which processes are described and what artifacts are attached to them. However, all sustainable initiatives share one thing: They succeed in providing a common structure and business dictionary to enable communication.

On the 26th of September, we had the pleasure that our 7th annual customer event was hosted by Merck in Darmstadt. The agenda of the day you can find here. I’d like to express my deepest thanks to our hosts and would like to give a synopsis of the presentations and break-out sessions we had:

The first presentation showed us that multiple business area-specific ERP templates can be managed within one BPM framework at Merck. How the “abstract” process world from an ERP template can be linked to the operations of organizations within one particular country. It was explained how a common structure enables an industrialized roll-out approach from business roles to authorizations and training.

Participants of bpExpert’s 7th annual customer event in Darmstadt

Participants of bpExpert’s 7th annual customer event in Darmstadt

Having achieved the objective of supporting first-time rollouts, the next challenge is transforming the BPM organization to enable them for a combined rollout and run mode.

This was the topic of the second speaker from Phoenix Contact. Since 2003, empowered by a strong mandate of senior management, Phoenix contact established a strictly governed process lifecycle management. Among the benefits of having a common process language worldwide and a single source of truth are high internal customer satisfaction, business insights into harmonization potentials, internal benchmarks, and easy comparison and evaluation of processes. Not for free – challenges and constant efforts to maintain a strong community over so many years and to administer a holistic process management set-up must be mentioned.

A great example of how a common process language acts as a catalyst for boosting improvements and automation was given by the next speaker, responsible for BPM in R&D at Merck Healthcare. The objective, in this case, was not efficiency but effectiveness. Effectiveness in the collaboration between the different departments within the R&D organization and beyond. In a short period of time and with an approach of small incremental steps, the project succeeded in adding structure to the assignments of responsibilities, in interactions and handovers. With this, the guardrails on the way towards a consolidated landscape of quality documents (e.g. procedures and related information) were defined and thus the space for creativity and innovation in a highly regulated environment was enlarged.

Giving freedom for adjustments of process documentation to reflect the nature of different areas within a research-driven organization while keeping everything together in one structure was the topic of the presentation by Miltenyi Biotec. Objectives such as efficiency and better collaboration had to be in line with out-of-the-silo thinking as well as regulatory compliance. All this for building the basis for future digitalization. A comprehensive but robust and simple structure combined with easy comprehensible and uniform process mapping enables a broad communication and collaboration among empowered contributors and fosters active ownership and encourages taking responsibility.

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In break-out sessions and individual conversations in smaller groups throughout the day, all participants elaborated on the various aspects of the presented initiatives and shared their individual insights under the motto “What’s in it for me”. Some of the highlights from this sessions where the benefit of integrating classic LEAN tools like SIPOC sheets (supplier, input, process, output, customer) on a higher level of the process architecture, different approaches towards governance and approval workflows, ways of stakeholder management and connecting the individual to the whole, and – across all the different facets of change – BPM does not replace communication but it enables it with the provided structure and common process language.

Please feel free to comment or reach out to me personally if you are interested in discussing any of the above-mentioned topics. And for sure we will be glad to greet you to our next year’s event.

Video Podcast - Resilient Planning

Planning is like the immune system – is yours resilient?

“Resilience” is a term often used in psychology when talking about mindfulness and taking care of your own needs. Within the last couple of years, the term has also been used in leadership concepts. Being resilient is considered one of the key treats of leaders in VUCA environments.
You will also find it addressed by urban planners in the context of disaster recovery, for example in case of earthquakes.

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