A strategy for global process standardization
Alfa Laval ran on a variety of business management systems, including multiple ERP systems used in businesses Alfa Laval acquired. When the company chose Microsoft Dynamics AX as the enterprise’s ERP system because of its versatility and capabilities for supporting key operations, it also needed to find a way to manage effective, consistent implementations for its production locations around the world. Early on, Endeavour leaders learned about To-Increase RapidValue, the business process management (BPM) solution created for Microsoft Dynamics AX, and decided to put it to the test.
Ann Loftorp, Senior Project Manager at Alfa Laval, has been involved with Endeavour from its inception. One of her responsibilities in the Endeavour initiative is to collaborate with IT and business stakeholders in identifying the most effective ways to benefit from RapidValue. “We strongly believe in standardized, common processes that are well documented,” Loftorp says. “In the Endeavour initiative so far and in the foreseeable future, RapidValue is and will be our tool to design that standardization, document it, and make it available. By using the solution, we can realize standardized processes in our progressive global rollout of a company-wide ERP system.”
Central repository for all processes and documentation
Within Endeavour, the primary focus is on processes in manufacturing and in distribution and supply chain management and also includes some financial activities. Alfa Laval locations around the world are deploying Microsoft Dynamics AX following the business process models created and maintained in RapidValue. Björn Persson, Systems Analyst at Alfa Laval, explains, “RapidValue is the one resource where all of our Microsoft Dynamics AX processes are documented. This is the baseline for all our efforts. When we implement modules or build additional functionality, we always make updates in RapidValue. Then we use the tool to roll processes out across the locations and educate employees on how they run.”
Developing enterprise-wide improvements from local processes
As Endeavour moves through the global Alfa Laval locations, the team often finds unique, business-critical processes. Endeavor adopts and optimizes these processes in RapidValue, and at the same time, it generalizes valuable findings to improve processes enterprise-wide. “The RapidValue process model makes it possible to transfer local improvements to enhance the global standard,” says Loftorp. “The common standard model in Endeavour also eliminates the requirement for certain resourceful people to only serve one operation because we can incorporate their innovative ideas in RapidValue processes.”
For ERP users in Alfa Laval’s operations, the Endeavour approach delivers improvements in processes and activities they perform every day. Persson says, “We use RapidValue to make the most meaningful enhancements in those global processes that have the greatest impact on people and operations. We have a much better way than before to meet specific requirements from the factories, improve processes for them, and carry those improvements across the company.”
Support for supply chain industry standards
When Endeavour team members create and optimize supply chain processes, they follow the supply-chain operations reference model (SCOR), a widely adopted standard for supply chain management that is also a common process model at Alfa Laval. Within SCOR, there are six main process areas that facilitate planning, sourcing, making, delivering, returning, and enabling activities. SCOR uses three levels of process detail, and emphasizes customer and market interactions as well as product transactions.
“All of our SCOR processes and their sub-processes are fully represented within RapidValue and documented according to the SCOR process model, and they sometimes include activities run in other systems,” notes Persson. “From the beginning of Endeavour, we wanted to implement standardized, global processes and continue to improve them over time. By having the processes documented in RapidValue we will be much more successful in implementing these improvements globally and at the same time. Every site will always be running on the same, latest version of a process. For example, in our processes for goods receiving and quality control we are already implementing such optimized processes.”
One core solution meets all location-specific ERP requirements
Endeavour relied on RapidValue to establish an effective practice that keeps dozens of local ERP deployments consistent and efficient. Persson explains, “When we need to assume additional processes from local operations, we bring them into the master solution that we maintain in RapidValue. In the subsequent ERP deployment, we provide exact copies of the master solution, and then use the solution’s scoping functionality to select precisely those processes that need to part of that Microsoft Dynamics AX rollout.”
The scoping function in RapidValue allows Endeavour to maintain a productive momentum in the Microsoft Dynamics AX projects across the world’s regions. Persson adds, “We would be challenged with enormous complexity if we created distinct solutions for each of our ERP rollouts, given all the business scenarios we need to support and maintain. With RapidValue, we follow a more sustainable strategy of keeping all our processes in one master solution. This single solution incorporates all global processes and their most significant local variants. To implement the appropriate local processes for a factory, you simply filter among the process choices in your copy of the master solution.”
So far, Endeavour has resulted in six completed implementations of the same instance of Microsoft Dynamics AX following this approach; they are in production locations in China, Denmark, and Sweden, and at corporate headquarters in Lund. “RapidValue is extremely flexible and scalable, enabling us to extend one master solution across all factories,” comments Loftorp. “When it became known around the company that Endeavour was successful, several other organizations within Alfa Laval asked to be part of the same Microsoft Dynamics AX deployment project. Using RapidValue, we built their processes in our solution and manage them from there.”
Comfortable, smooth user transition to the new ERP system
Teams of subject matter experts in various operational disciplines meet to prioritize processes to be designed and optimized in RapidValue, and they also collaborate to create the Word documents which contain the process and solution guidance that resides in the solution. Microsoft Dynamics AX users access the help content directly from the ERP system’s forms. For them, RapidValue smooths their path toward working productively within changed processes and to becoming comfortable and proficient with the technology. “For everybody concerned, it is always obvious that a process has been changed not just for one location, but globally—there is no uncertainty about the status of the process enhancements,” Persson says.
Ease-of-use and employees’ comfort level with their new technology tools is important in the success of the ERP deployments. “Our colleagues in the factories are usually very favorably impressed when they start working with Microsoft Dynamics AX and they see how we documented processes for them and how easily practical help content is available,” Loftorp comments. “Because RapidValue resides within Dynamics AX, they do not need to navigate two systems, which is cumbersome even if the content is excellent. It is a great training tool for Alfa Laval employees and will also be invaluable when we involve consultants to help us perform simultaneous deployments. That also means RapidValue is a powerful asset in helping our employees transition away from a legacy ERP system to the one that replaces it. They are not miserable or disoriented, the way it can happen when companies deploy complex software systems. They are enthusiastic.”
Rewarding ISV collaboration
While the Endeavour team became deeply familiar with RapidValue and explored all available options, Persson had meetings with a senior solution architect from To-Increase every other week to refine their approach and address any issues they ran into. Those take place less frequently now that Alfa Laval is performing successful Microsoft Dynamics AX rollouts. However, as Persson notes, “The collaboration between Alfa Laval and To-Increase is continuing. Together, we conceptualized and created augmented functionality in the scoping and filtering capabilities of RapidValue. I certainly expect us to think of further enhancements.”
Fast, reliable Microsoft Dynamics AX deployments
Loftorp, Persson, and their colleagues in Endeavour are pleased with the continuously improving results of their intense collaboration so far. Persson remarks, “For me, in my role, maybe the greatest benefits from RapidValue are in achieving more reliable, faster ERP implementations. As Microsoft Dynamics AX comes to the remaining thirty-plus locations, the deployment will only get speedier and more efficient.” Loftorp adds, “We invested the effort and time to build a standardized solution for all operations. We are convinced that our use of RapidValue will pay off and know this is a journey worth taking. For any company engaging in an ERP project of comparable scale, it is essential to have a tool like RapidValue that enables them to design and improve their processes, create a standard process model, and document it in an easily accessible manner.”