With the launch of Cim v2.1 last month, I’ve been engaging with a very different set of business groups amongst our customers. These are groups that have really never gotten into leveraging SharePoint – even though their organization has it deployed enterprise wide. They are now looking to leverage Cim on SharePoint 2010 to scale out and up enterprise-wide business processes that have been operating in limited, cumbersome environments. This scenario that we call enterprise-wide social business processes (EW-SBP) is a targeted scenario for Cim and leverages the entire CorasWorks value proposition. In this article, I’ll provide the overview of this scenario. In future blogs, I’ll drill into specific business processes.
These enterprise customers have existing business processes that require contributions from a large groups of users. You might say that they have a big, front-end funnel. The organizations have already determined what their process is and that it works for the business. They’ve been doing it, but, it has been painful. As they exist today, they are too limited in visibility and touch, they are cumbersome and not scalable (usually built or managed using spreadsheets and/or legacy systems such as SAP and Siebel), and, they are expensive and a hassle to maintain and move forward.
As Cim v2.1 has gotten out there, these business groups are bringing us their processes. Here is what they want:
- Broad User Scale – They want to scale the front-end of the process to be able to engage a very broad set of users – the whole enterprise, a division, or their business group. They want this to occur with very little upfront or ongoing effort. They want to be able to launch new initiatives with just a bit of effort and not having to reinvent a new process/system.
- Robust Process Management – They want their core process, the way they manage it now (but better and easier), to be part of the solution. They want it to be rich, configurable, and flexible without requiring a computer science degree.
- Enterprise Integration – They want this front-end engagement/process to be able to connect to their external back-end systems (like their project management systems) to a) push approved items into these systems or b) expose the enterprise data within the system to assist the users of the process. NOTE: Some of these business groups are now considering the option of also leveraging SharePoint to do this also.
In many cases, the processes that these business groups are looking for are already part of the CorasWorks stable. Some examples of them are as follows.
New Project Initiation – they usually have multiple project management systems, off SharePoint. What they want is the front-end where people can submit new project ideas, get visibility and collaboration, and then, put them through a review, evaluation, and approval process. The approved one then get pushed into their PMO or into Project Portfolios in their enterprise project management system. Their objective is to reduce project duplication and make sure that the projects that even get considered are thought out and vetted amongst a broad, visible audience.
Change Request Management – We are seeing two main “flavors” of this. One is driven by product groups, the other by IT. In sum, they want to open up the front end to a broad set of users to be able to easily submit and collaborate on change requests. Then, they want to run them through a review and approval process. The approved ones will get pushed into their external system or into project sites or team sites within SharePoint for implementation. The value is a broader funnel that allows for better collaboration before the change requests move into consideration.
New Product Innovation – We are getting multiple variations for this scenario. But at the core, the business owners want to engage the full enterprise to capture ideas for new products and markets. They want to put them through a review and approval process, and then, push them to external systems or SharePoint sites for people to incorporate into their next product cycle. With this process they are looking to drive revenue growth and competitive strength through a bigger funnel for innovative ideas, the ability to get more varied collaborative input, and the means to target the “thinking” of the organization towards specific challenges/opportunities.
Continuous Improvement Programs – At the enterprise or division level, organizations are looking to capture ideas, projects, plans to feed into a program they are using to manage their Continuous Improvement. Usually, these are operations oriented groups. They are looking for ideas for cutting costs, decreasing cycle time, and overall efficiencies. They want broad participation (sometimes mandatory), and then, they review and approve the ideas, and move them into implementation.
The Cim Enterprise-Wide Social Business Process (EW-SBP) Solution
The basic design of our solution is the same across all of the four examples above. It is a distributed process that lays on top of and cuts across the SharePoint environment and beyond. Below is a screenshot depicting a generic process.
The process breaks down into three distinct sets of activities as follows:
Collaboration: Users will have access to one or more communities to contribute and collaborate with others on the items. They will do this from wherever they work across SharePoint using the Cim Activity Stream. The items are all collected in one or more “communities”.
Process: The process owners then go about reviewing, evaluating, and approving the items. It may be a simple process with a few core decision makers. Or, they may use collaborative reviews that pull in subject matter experts and other managers. Further, they can configure multiple stage-gates, with specific activities within each stage that need to be completed before the item is promoted. Here they will make the decision. And, they will manage the overall portfolio leveraging various reporting features.
Execution: They then push approved items into downstream project sites, processes, programs, or team sites. These downstream activities may be in external enterprise systems or may exist within the SharePoint environment. For instance, CorasWorks provides our Project Portfolio Management solution that runs on SharePoint and is integrated with Cim to make this phase a natural next step.
The core selling points of the CorasWorks Cim v2.1 solution are:
- it runs natively on SharePoint and thus they can leverage this existing enterprise infrastructure
- the CorasWorks Cim solution is largely off the shelf in terms of the core things they want for their process
- Cim is easy to use and feature rich, providing contributor users and process users with a good experience
- Cim is easily adaptable and they can see how they can tweak it where they need it
- Cim is based upon the CorasWorks Solution Platform, which is a mature platform (now in v11) and gives them the flexibility to extend the solution in the places where they require some deep enterprise integration
- the price is very competitive and they are able to launch additional processes using the same framework
In sum, we are seeing Cim v2.1 running on SharePoint 2010 being adopted for enterprise-wide social business processes. Effectively, these customers are leveraging our solution to scale their existing processes. They are targeting broad numbers of users (5,000 to 50,000). The target is usually enterprise-wide or at the division level. They want the front-end collaboration, a clean, robust process to get to the decision on items, and, the flexibility to then use different means for execution (building, implementing) and or extend the solution as needed.
In future articles, I’ll drill down into specific processes and talk about specific features and benefits.