Home : Services : Scenarios
Using the key defined in Business Services (General),
we shall look at various scenarios in the following diagrams of where we can help
you to add value to your business.
Each scenario, unless specified otherwise, can be at any scale: from an individual
business role (e.g. test planner) through team functions (e.g. component test team)
to a full business function (e.g. test function, comprising of component test team,
integration test team etc.).
An existing business function may be operating as required, but may not be operating
as efficiently and transparently as it could. In many cases, the processes and toolsets
used may already be reasonably well defined and in place, though they are often not integrated.
This means that there are often many manual imports/exports between the individual
It is also often the metrics, communications and harvesting/continuous improvement
that provide the best opportunities here. These have often been deprioritised because
of the effort required to implement them in their non-integrated processes and toolsets.
Depending on the scale of granularity, this scenario is equivalent to
Scenario #3 below.
We can improve the efficiency of the whole business function. We would typically
concentrate on the processes and toolset as these provide the backbone for the function
(with other capability areas often easily being implemented as quick-win by-products
once completed). This would involve a combination of (but in descending preferential order):
- Integrating the existing tools - Typically using databases and/or custom
automated tools and/or packaged software extensions to "glue" these tools together
- Integrating the existing processes - Typically these are just tweaks of the
existing processes so that they are individually less insular and are considerate
to/proactive with neighbouring processes.
- Upgrading the existing tools - Generally for packaged software whose upgrades
provide more functionality & extensions.
- Replacing the existing tools - Typically only used as a last resort as it
has a larger impact (cost, timescale, training) but the returns can be impressive.
- Replacing the existing processes - Again, typically a last resort, but often
advantageous if there has been a protracted amount of process creep over long periods,
especially if this was to satisfy deprecated toolsets.
For the other capability areas:
- Metrics - Typically the business-wide metrics (the main metrics to measure
the health of the whole organisation) are already defined and just need to be implemented
(and communicated back). Business-function metrics are function-internal, natural
measures to measure the health (and raison d'être) of itself.
With an integrated toolset throughout the business function, these should all be
able to be easily measured end-to-end.
- Communications - Typically this can be achieved by exposing the underlying
data in the toolset, either in raw format and/or in summarised formats (on dashboards).
Either way, with an integrated toolset, this is relatively simple to achieve. The
channel format is often either publish/subscribe (for other business functions to
consume at will) or push/pull (for other business functions to consume as soon as
it's ready/whenever they are ready to receive it).
- Harvest/Continuous Improvement - Typically an extension of metrics and communications
whereby they "close the loop" to refine the assumptions and business factors
at the start of the business function.
Click to enlarge
This is a typical scenario for team functions (although it can also be applied all
the way up to multiple enterprise-scale functions for an enterprise undergoing a
large change programme). So, depending on the scale of granularity, this scenario
is equivalent to Scenario #2 above.
Although the parent business function is performing, an analysis of
its constituent sub-functions and processes reveals:
- Management is overwhelmed - They have made themselves the central, critical-path
for the function. It often results
in them spending most of their time "doing" (paper- and data-shuffling between their
sub-functions) rather than "managing" (directing, facilitating, improving, growing).
Not only that but they haven't had the time (nor will they) to sit back and self-evaluate,
actually automate it all and have an effective toolset. This function could be close
to catastrophic failure.
- Information reporting is too manual and excessive (portrayed by the larger sub-function
size) - Presentation of the processed results to downstream functions (or even
customers) is essential for overall smooth operation. Although this sub-function
has got this largely automated internally, they still require too much manual fiddling
to create the information feeds in the various different formats required. The
result is that downstream functions find errors and inconsistencies in the information
and its format, requiring them to either suffer a delay to re-request the data or
set up their own data-cleansing sub-function at their own expense.
- Other sub-functions may be underwhelmed - Management has been so overwhelmed
that they haven't ensured that there is sufficient work for those they manage.
This often leads to boredom, a decline in morale and the introduction of careless
mistakes, making the situation (especially for management in this case) much worse.
- Information gathering is too manual and excessive (portrayed by the larger sub-function
size) - Every business function requires information of the right kind, in the
right quantities and at the right time to be able to perform its function. If this
function isn't integrated with its upstream business functions from which it
receives its information, then significant time is often wasted obtaining it (frequently
at the last minute to the chagrin of those upstream functions).
We can improve the efficiency of the parent business function by realigning its
sub-functions. This would typically involve concentrating on (in this order):
- Redefining high level processes - The high-level workflow between the sub-functions
and external functions.
- Redefining/revising low level processes - Typically these are fundamentally sound
but need stream-lining, tweaking and automating.
- The activities as defined in Scenario #2 above.
Click to enlarge
This is a typical scenario for multiple team situations, i.e. equivalent to
Scenario #3 above but on a larger scale. To make it easier to visualise,
we have used IT Programme Delivery as an example subject (the parent business function).
It has multiple sub-functions (e.g. Design, Build, Test). Test, in this instance,
is shown at an odd angle because they often struggle for multiple reasons
(timeline squeeze, delays elsewhere, inferior design/build). They may all appear to be
individually working effectively on the surface, but are predominantly lacking in
integration between them. This often results in:
- Sub-function teams working on out-of-date information - Resulting in wasted
effort, re-work and a protracted delivery timeline, or, worse, the delivery of a
product that is not fit for purpose. A common symptom of this is "fire-fighting":
everyone spending every day resolving their own and dealing with others' issues
("fires") rather than having the time to improve the whole situation from
the ground up.
- Regular disputes and "blame culture" between the sub-functions
- With the parent function's management (Programme Office in this instance)
having to act as an arbitration service.
- Unclear or inconsistent status - On which the parent function's
management can base its decisions and actions, especially if standards haven't
been defined (or adhered to).
- Unclear or inconsistent communications - Caused by the above but especially
damaging to stakeholders outside the parent function.
We can improve the efficiency of the parent business function by concentrating on
the integration between its sub-functions by creating a core backbone throughout
all the capability areas (as depicted by the green stripe
through the core of each), around which the sub-functions can be uplifted later
(as in Scenario #3). This would typically involve
(in this order):
- Evaluating the high level processes & metrics - The high-level workflow,
interfaces and metrics between the sub-functions and external functions. This would
also involve an iterative interview/review process with sub-functions individually
to determine "wish lists" of where/how they would like the other sub-functions
- Drafting new high level processes & metrics - Concentrating again on
the interfaces between the sub-functions and external functions, leaving much of
the intra-sub-function processes status quo, the only exceptions including refining
the critical path and ensuring that metrics can be collated automatically.
- Integrating the toolsets & metrics and standardising the communications - This
will minimise the need for information transformation (e.g. database to Word doc
to database) and improve the information transparency to and response-time for all,
especially the management function. The toolset again provides the backbone around
which the business function hangs.
- Enabling the management function - While the above beds in (and in parallel),
time & resources should have been freed up to enable their processes, controls
etc to be refined and automated, with an on-going activity of continuous improvement.
- The activities as defined in Scenario #3 above
for each of the individual sub-function teams.
Click to enlarge
This is a typical scenario for large enterprises that already employ
ERP systems (e.g. SAP), i.e. equivalent to Scenario
#4 above but, again, on a much larger scale. A good implementation of
the ERP system should already have reached the objectives of the above scenario,
at least in terms of a common toolset for the basic backbone of the enterprise,
metrics and consistent communication capability. However it is sometimes apparent
- Not all business functions are integrated - Although a common tool is used
for all (or many) business functions, their processes or metrics aren't integrated
and/or there are still some peripheral processes that are not integrated.
- Not all business functions are as aligned as they could be with each other
- There can be the tendency for business functions to drift away from the business
strategy (as shown in the diagram by the business functions not being completely
- Full ERP value is not being realised - With the cost and effort expended
for the ERP system, it is a shame if it is not being utilised as much as it could.
E.g. rather than just the core business (thin backbone - typically finance), couldn't
it be re-evaluated to include more of the business (thicker backbone)?
This will include advice on and implementation of a combination of the following:
Please read on for:
- Plain Language - that provides plain language situations
of where we add value (for those not familiar with these services or environments).
If you would like to learn more about what we do and how we might be able to help
you, please contact us.
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