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The Case for Integrated Processes
Integrated Processes is also known as :
2008 Integrated Report,
Automated Cost Estimating Integrated Tools,
Best Practice Integrated,
ERP Implementation Process,
Framework for Integrated Testing,
Framework Integrated Testing,
Global Business Processes,
Implementation Planning Process,
Information System Processes,
Integrated Approach to Web Performance Testing,
Integrated Best Practices,
Integrated Business Analysis,
Integrated Business Applications,
Integrated Business Model,
Integrated Business Processes,
Integrated Business Software,
Integrated Business Strategies.
Most CEOs have developed strategies that push their
companies to achieve the following goals:
- Develop faster time to market of products and
- Increase sales, revenue, and income
- Improve customer service and customer
- Improve operational efficiency and reduce costs
- Improve employee productivity and satisfaction
But few CEOs will attest that their companies have
made much progress. Why? Because theirs is a 21stcentury
vision being held back by 20th-century
organizational processes and IT systems. The
missing ingredient: information. It's information
that helps increase speed and productivity, creates a
stronger foundation for decision making, cuts out
time spent on unproductive tasks, and, over time,
produces more efficiency, tighter cost control, and a
more effective climate of innovation.
The truth is that integrated processes hold the key
by facilitating the flow of that information.
Integrated processes provide information access to
end users across the enterprise that's fit for the right
purpose and delivered in a format they can use. A
more horizontally-structured company, with
integrated processes across each value chain, is the
wave of the future. But while many executives
realize this fact, few companies have risen above the
silo structures that still remain from a myriad of
mergers - legacy systems that neither communicate
nor integrate with one another, and cultures that
do not share information or analysis in any
But a few forward-thinking companies have begun
to change this picture in very dramatic ways, as
- The core IT team at a consumer products
company has enjoyed an estimated US$3
million in operational savings by integrating 150
supply chain processes, which improved
services, reduced order cycle time, and
eliminated 85% of the legacy systems. In
addition, the company discovered US$2 million
in "reverse logistics," efficiencies gained after
integrating point-of-sale activities such as
customer service, field service, and spare-parts
- A global transportation company has developed
integrated processes through its Web portal to
connect it with partners all along the value
chain, helping to increase information
transparency and process efficiency through
more productive knowledge management. This
company developed digital workplaces for
improved end-user productivity, facilitating
technology convergence. A Voice over IP (VoIP)
infrastructure supported by the portal platform
has reduced employee process costs by up to
80% through mandatory employee self-services.
- A large national utility company found that
integrating processes improved its cost-position
visibility for finance resources and increased
user satisfaction with financial reporting. The
company is experiencing fewer problems with
data integrity from corporate acquisitions and
has redeployed finance and HR personnel to
more value-added work, while making
improvements in payroll processing and
reducing hardware and operating system
- A global manufacturing company achieved
significant time savings in transaction-based
processes by an average of between 45 and 65%
(or between 4.50 and 9.00 per transaction).
With an expected annual volume of
approximately 30,000 transactions per
integrated process, the company believes its
investment in integrated processes will pay off
in the next two to four years. In addition, the
company can reduce its application
development costs by 30 to 50% because the
open technology means that developing and
integrating cost-effective, in-house solutions is
much faster and simpler than buying
Most important, these companies have learned that
achieving their strategic goals requires the following:
- Access to and sharing of information across the
organization's end-to-end business processes
- Information to provide a holistic view of
customers, suppliers, partners, and/or business
processes and operations
- Better understanding of business process steps -
and how each impacts the others - to improve
the overall effectiveness of each business process
and realize value
This SAP Insight discusses what integrated processes
are, how they create value, specific cases of
companies succeeding with integrated processes, as
well as a checklist to determine how integrated your
own company's processes are.
WHAT ARE INTEGRATED PROCESSES?
CEOs have begun to realize that they can achieve
significant benefits, both quantitative and
qualitative, by leveraging integrated processes. But
what are integrated processes? How can executives
move from the conceptual to the concrete in
understanding the tangible impact that integrated
processes can make on achieving strategic goals?
By definition, an integrated process is a series of
interrelated activities that share and exchange data
to achieve a common purpose. An integrated
process leverages a potentially broad ecosystem of
"partners," such as other internal departments,
customers, suppliers, and vendors, to facilitate
collaboration on these interrelated activities, with
an appreciation of how each step impacts each
The most common integrated processes are the
- Research to market
- Market to cash
- Procure to pay
- Plan to produce
- Order to cash
- Post to close
- Employee life cycle
- Employee self-service
- Manager self-service
Clearly, the integrated process is designed to
facilitate the flat, more horizontally-structured
organization envisioned for some time as the key to
streamlining the workings of the complex modern
corporation. The basic objectives are increased
operational productivity and transparency, leading
to greater efficiency, control, and, ultimately,
customer satisfaction. To that end, the integrated
process provides visibility into the activities of all the
partners in the value chain - and into the
information required to complete their steps in the
HOW DO INTEGRATED PROCESSES CREATE
To determine companies' belief systems, APQC
conducted a business process management
benchmarking study in 20052, investigating how
integrated business processes create value. The
results corroborate and expand upon the premise.
Integrating end-to-end processes more positively
aligns technology with business needs. Six Sigma
experts have determined that process redesign
cannot succeed without underlying infrastructure.
The reason: In order for the company to track the
impact of process redesign on productivity, it must
have the data about inputs and outputs from the
process so that it can see that the process redesign
has resulted in greater efficiency - according to the
standard metrics for that efficiency. To put this
another way, companies will now begin "driving
with the lights on."
Integrated processes increase productivity. The
APQC study indicates that the most commonly
reported improvement across all study participants
is increased productivity. In addition, the study cites
"operational savings," which include technology
Integrated processes decrease costs. Feedback from
other studies indicates that an integrated ERP
system can save 20 to 30% of total costs over a
nonintegrated system. The bulk of the incremental
total cost of ownership lies in integration (8 to 12%)
and ongoing infrastructure costs (9 to 13%).3
Consider the example of the high tech company on
the following page.
Integrated processes help companies realize
operational gains. Based on the research, the APQC
study concluded that an enterprise using integrated
processes achieved greater economies of scale than
vertically-oriented companies, and produced larger
gains from process improvements leveraged across
the organization, as well.
Study participants and sponsors commonly
reported that integrated processes led to a 25 to 50%
improvement in productivity, defects, margins, and
employee competencies. These improvements also
covered the areas of customer loyalty, revenue
increase, and operating margins.
The APQC survey cited other typical operationalrelated
benefits, including the following:
- Improved productivity by eliminating process
overlaps and ineffectiveness, reducing
process complexities, and implementing
- Process improvement by applying a consistent
and replicable approach
- Cost reductions by avoiding redundancies in
- Productivity increases
- Additional customer value
- Increased profitability
- Increased customer satisfaction
How a High-Tech Company Streamlined Its System Landscape
One high-tech company had a systems landscape that incorporated more than 20 systems,
300-plus interfaces between SAP' and non-SAP systems, and over 5,000 discrete business
objects and reports. Driven largely by the need to accommodate legacy system requirements,
the company also had to custom-build hand-coded interfaces with direct calls between
applications, using a different application development team each time.
The company opted to integrate processes to facilitate faster implementations, lower overall
costs, and reduce latency times. The SAP NetWeaver' Exchange Infrastructure (SAP
NetWeaver XI) component would help do away with the manual effort required to customcode
application and system interfaces. By leveraging SAP NetWeaver XI the team removed
the existing custom infrastructure and application code specifically for integration, while
decoupling interfaces to specific proprietary applications - thereby reducing system
dependencies, improving manageability, and aiding subsequent integration of other systems
and projects. The initial results were impressive, with 19 business processes containing 42
integration points now handled via SAP NetWeaver XI.
The company anticipates the following short- and long-term benefits:
- Moving to a more agile and flexible infrastructure to address future business and
- Easier and faster integration and maintenance of existing interfaces
- Promoting skill consolidation (based on Java, XML, and Web services)
- Anticipating reduced risk for system upgrades and tangential application implementations
- Facilitating the development of reusable components and interface
- Increased life-cycle management and control capabilities
Consider how the Utility described in the case below
improved its recruiting benchmarks - with more
fully integrated processes.
Functional activities become collaborative activities
across the organization and the
company/customer/supplier ecosystem. One
chemical company has linked the implementation of integrated business processes to increased
customer loyalty. The company measures 54
individual characteristics related to customer
loyalty, defining them in two categories: table
stakes, or the costs of doing business, and key
drivers, the areas that differentiate the company,
add value, and increase customer satisfaction.
Increased customer satisfaction leads to a higher percentage of business gained from these customers
as well as referrals. The company found that the
integrated processes increased the percentage of
business gained from customers as well as referrals.
How a Utility Improved Recruitment and Hiring
The management of a large regional utility company, buffeted by a number of external and
internal forces, wanted better visibility into company cost structure and tighter integration of
systems and processes. The utility turned to the SAP NetWeaver platform to replace and
augment legacy technologies that were insufficient to meet present and future requirements.
Acknowledging its aging workforce, the company set its number-one priority as the
recruitment and hiring of new talent. But its hiring processes were manual and fraught with
errors, alienating prospective employees.
In this case, here's how an integrated hiring process works. IT builds templates and user
interfaces for hiring different positions. When an individual is hired, HR staffers enter the
start date. These templates then automatically initiate all the other necessary system
activities. When a developer is hired, for example, the IT department is informed in advance
and sets up the new employee in the system. The facilities operation arranges for new
furniture, office space, phone service, and office systems. By the time the new employee
starts, parking is assigned and security passes are in place. All activities are automatically
triggered by the start date and data is retrieved from the SAP HR application.
But this is only the most visible change. By enabling process integration, the utility improved
transparency and reach, and enhanced user productivity. For example, the portal is now the
new delivery mechanism. Financial reports from the SAP NetWeaver business intelligence
repository are now delivered through the portal. A supervisor can look at his or her costs in
detail - overtime, labor, travel - and make real-time adjustments. With cost information readily
available, the supervisor can exert more control over expenditures.
In addition to the new-hire capabilities, employee and management self-service capabilities
are delivered through the portal. With easy access to their payroll information, for example,
employees and managers no longer need hard copies in the mail, which has achieved
efficiencies and cost reductions for printing and postage. HR personnel are redeployed from
manual administrative tasks to providing consultations and decision support for line
Thanks to the implementation of SAP NetWeaver, the utility's lines of business achieved the
- Reports once generated 7 to 14 days after month-end close are now available
- Real-time interface development costs decreased more than 50%.
- Portal content development time decrease 200 to 300%.
- 300% increase in ability to implement concurrent SAP projects
For a look at a transportation company that
increased its customer effectiveness through
integrated processes, see the case below
Companies that implement integrated processes
measure, track, and report performance in
alignment with business goals and objectives. One
of the biggest challenges to the modern company is
statistical: how to better measure performance, and
translate that measurement into shareholder value?
Integrated processes help a company measure by
simplifying the measurement process.
Companies installing integrated processes typically
measure, track, and report performance relentlessly
to determine appropriate alignment with business
outcomes. As a result of these efforts, they
accomplish the following objectives:
- Achieve better results in process improvement
efforts by applying a consistent and replicable approach to assessing and improving processes
that align with business outcomes
- Increase customer satisfaction by defining and
aligning end-to-end business processes with
measures that reflect customer needs
- Reduce costs by avoiding redundancies in
- Improve productivity by eliminating process
overlaps and ineffectiveness, reducing process
complexities and implementing enterprise-wide
The APQC also reported that companies believe
integrated processes help them to comply with the
U.S. Sarbanes-Oxley Act, as well as the certification
requirements of the International Standards
Organization. Integrated processes help smooth the
way in merger adjustment, allow more effective
shared services, help with outsourcing, and enable a
stronger focus on resource utilization.
In the main, integrated processes will improve a
company's overall efficiency. Consider the
transportation company's increased efficiency
obtained through greater process integration.
How a Transportation Company Improved Efficiency
Digitizing business processes was a key objective for a transportation company as a way to
increase efficiency, harmonize business processes across the group, and standardize Web
application management. One particularly important process was knowledge management for
its widely dispersed divisions - the exchange of information about projects, skills, and
customers. Better management of this process would help consultants speed up their daily
work and increase profit margin in fixed-price projects.
The project transformed a multitude of homegrown intranets to an integrated, central
platform. Now, content is dynamic, giving end users the information they need to make
decisions. The project also allows more flexible business processes through integration with
back-end business applications. Single-sign-on functionality and a comprehensive role
concept enable a "digital workplace:" once authenticated, employees have access to
personalized information and business applications with a single point of entry for daily work.
The inherent integration of processes has allowed exchange of information and knowledge.
Collaborative work scenarios are realized across working groups and project teams.
Employees can more easily retrieve information thanks to a standardized content
management process. Finally, the company has realized economies of scale by standardizing
processes across divisions, reducing operating costs.
Based on research and documented case studies, it is
clear that companies are realizing significant value
by developing integrated processes across the
enterprise. These integrated processes are a
combination of redesigned processes based on
workflow, supported by underlying state-of-the-art
information technology, that ultimately benefit
people - whether via employee productivity,
collaboration with suppliers and customers, or
providing better returns to shareholders.
The following "Checklist for Integrated Processes" is
a quick assessment tool to help you determine
whether your company has enough critical success
factors to achieve the benefits we've uncovered for
integrated processes. Those companies that can
answer yes to the majority of questions are already
on the road to success with integration. Those that
cannot should consider re-evaluating the costs
versus the benefits of integrated processes.
CHECKLIST FOR INTEGRATED
- Do you integrate the design and management of
end-to-end, customer-driven processes with
functional activities and goals (including strategic
objectives and business imperatives)?
- Do you take a comprehensive view of the
organization that considers suppliers, the
connectivity among the organization's functional
roles, and customers?
- Do you allow your organization to benefit from
the use of standardized global process definitions
in your ERP implementation?
- Do you use a set of clearly-defined measures to
assess process performance and maturity?
For example, do your executive process owners
articulate a process vision with key metrics?
Do you drive down costs by focusing on cycle
time and rework?
Do your executive process owners ensure that
the output of their processes delivers the right
value to customers and business owners?
- Can you say that your IT is aligned with business
needs? Can you say that IT is supporting and
automating your strategic business processes?
- Do you receive the data you need to determine
whether your process efficiency efforts have taken
- Do your IT tools and systems facilitate process
modeling, systems integration, measurement
efficiencies, and information access by process
owners and users?
- Is your human performance management focused
on the change toward integrated processes with
appropriate levels of training on change
- Do your process improvement methodologies
drive progress, support change, and track the
impact on the business?
- Are your executive leaders actively involved in
the design and implementation of new integrated
Table of Contents
- CEO Notes
- What are Integrated Processes?
- How Do Integrated Processes Create Value?
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