Coors Brewing Co. Embarks on the BPM Path

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This article originally appeared in the members only BPM Strategies Magazine.  Join today to receive your own copy. 

A determined group at Coors has demonstrated the real value of business process management to the executive team.

Coors Brewing Co., a subsidiary of the Molson Coors Brewing Co., is a major U.S. brewer. The parent company is the world’s fifth largest brewer, with revenues of $6 billion annually. With 18 breweries worldwide, it produces more than 60 hectoliters of beer sold under 40 different brand names a year, and employs 15,000 people.

Coors' start down the business process management (BPM) road is not a story of a top-down executive initiative. Nor is it a story of a single functional area providing a demonstration site for the rest of the company. Nor is it a straight-line success story. Instead, it is the story of a determined group of individuals who have been able to demonstrate the real value of business process modeling and BPM to the executive team

As is typical with many organizations, Coors business processes were not well defined or documented. Process models were developed in Visio independently of any other process initiative. There was no centralized process repository; there was minimal integration between processes; and there was no management structure in place to coordinate the modeling efforts. As a result, Coors had a great deal of process fragments. Adding to the situation was an aging workforce who possessed a great deal of intellectual knowledge. Many of these individuals were scheduled to retire from the Coors Brewing Company within a five-year time frame.

The History

It can be said that Coors began their BPM journey in December of 2000. At this time, the company's CIO was introduced to IDS Scheer's ARIS toolset, an integrated platform for designing, implementing, and controlling business processes.

As a direct result of the experience of the CIO and several executives who had personal experience using business process models, the edict to acquire the ARIS toolset and formally document Coors Brewing processes was launched.

One of the first areas within Coors to document their processes with the ARIS toolset was the Asset CARE area. A team of external consultants, experienced with ARIS , led this initiative. In the absence of an enterprise framework, these individuals used industry templates such as the Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) and Supply Chain Operations Reference ( SCOR ) models to define an infrastructure to which the Asset CARE processes could be attached.

The first challenge was to develop an infrastructure in which business modeling could be positioned to be successful. They needed people with the skills and training to appreciate the value of a business model.

Concurrent with the Asset CARE effort was another enterprise-wide supply-chain initiative focused on optimizing product distribution efficiencies. BPM was a key factor in helping Coors streamline and optimize the supply chain processes. "Before new processes were implemented distributors had to place their orders four weeks ahead of their need. Now they can order one week out, and they are very pleased with our service levels," said Debra Boykin, senior business architect and thought leader for the BPM practice at Coors. Additionally, BPM yielded internal efficiencies in regards to human performance issues.

At what levels should certain roles be staffed to achieve a certain production level? Could staffing for certain roles be reduced or eliminated completely?

During the supply chain project, managers involved identified what they thought were optimal role allocations for the defined activities. However, by using information produced from ARIS reports, said Boykin, "they saw that not only were certain roles over-allocated, other roles within the new process design were under allocated and extremely critical to the brewing process."

The Opportunity

Coors hired Boykin, an experienced ARIS user, in July 2001 to facilitate the implementation of the ARIS toolset solution at Coors. She was a part of the IT department and says, "I was pretty much on my own trying to promote a top-down approach."

Elsewhere in the organization was another team led by Bob Bonacci who was working from the bottom-up. Boykin explains, "The approaches just were not matching up." It wasn't until early 2003 that Bonacci and Boykin met and determined collaboration was needed between their two groups in order to develop business models that accurately reflected the needs of the business. Shortly thereafter, Boykin joined Bonacci's team.

Her first challenge, she said, was to develop an infrastructure in which consistent business models would be developed across the enterprise. "You need people who have the skills and training to appreciate the value of a business model," Boykin said. "At this point we had only limited organizational support, and we had very few people who understood the value of top-down business model development. I had the thought leadership piece, but there was no enterprise-wide accepted method for business process model development."

To solve this problem, the team turned to Business Genetics, a Denver based company that has developed its own approach to business modeling. Business Genetics uses its proprietary method called eXtended Business Modeling Language (xBML™) to explicitly define business requirements. "This top-down structured methodology allowed Coors to begin developing consistent business models across the enterprise," Boykin said.

Most simply, the approach delivers a simple, yet robust, solution to help visualize the specific individual dimensions of an organization's requirements /processes. This business modeling approach defines each individual business dimension (what, who, where, which, and when), as defined by a stated purpose (why). Once defined using xBML, these individual elements are reintegrated to create a representative model of the entire business (how) that supports the business purpose.

Bonacci's entire staff was trained in the methodology. "Everybody on our staff was now using a top-down method to develop consistent business models," Boykin said.

The methodology was first applied to the Cornerstone project and models were developed. The team built "what" models to identify and define the structure of the process under development, then identified the flow of the process using the "how" model. Roles, business rules, input and output data, and applications systems were subsequently assigned to each supporting activity. Reports were also developed detailing the activities and the roles supporting them. "While the first round of models developed using the xBML approach were not perfect, they still provided value in terms of analyzing human performance issues," said Boykin.

An Enterprise Model

With the team organized, the next major hurdle was to develop an overarching enterprise model. "We had quite a few process fragments, with very little process integration," Boykin said. "There was no explicit picture accurately depicting either the Coors Process Enterprise or where all the process fragments fit within an enterprise solution."

Several challenges confronted Boykin. First, she did not have any subject domain experts with which she could consult. Second, she wanted to create a model that would provide enterprise value versus project focus.

To create the enterprise model, she reached out to several team members she felt had in-depth knowledge of the Coors business processes. Additionally, she acquired industry solution reference models from sources such as SAP , Deloitte Touche, and SCOR . "We looked at these best practices as a place from which we could start to develop our Enterprise Process framework," she said.

Within a month, the team developed an enterprise model for Coors, which it called the Coors Enterprise Process Structure. The company was divided into five major core processes-Manage Beer Business; Create Consumer Demand; Generate Revenue; Execute Supply Chain; and Support Beer Business. The next step involved drilling down into each of the core process areas to define the supporting processes.

Within a month, the team came up with the Coors Enterprise Process Structure. The company was divided into five major processes from managing the beer business to creating consumer demand.

Upon completion of the enterprise business model, Bonacci began the validation process with Coors’ senior executives by asking each executive if the model accurately reflected the activities for which they were responsible. As a result, modifications were made to the enterprise model, but more importantly "executive ownership began to evolve around the processes for which they identified as theirs," Boykin said.

The Next Aha!

The use of business models to define the company's business requirements was gaining traction within the company and had been defined as a required task for any project development work. When Coors decided to build a new plant, it was no surprise that the BPM team was called upon to provide business modeling support.

As with all business process development work the xBML method was applied. However, due to the specific needs of the plant build-out project, "additional information such as, operating resources and time durations needed to be collected," Boykin said. "Collectively, this data can then be used to determine how many people are required to perform individual tasks and when. What is exciting is that individuals are using the information contained within the models to make value-added business decisions."

Indeed, said Boykin, gathering performance metrics is becoming a key priority on her team's agenda. "We want to move from a state of reacting to process performance to a state of being proactive. In other words, we want to monitor our processes in a real-time environment and proactively make adjustments accordingly."

Through the use of IDS Scheer's Process Performance Monitor (PPM) tool, data can be extracted from SAP or any legacy system that time stamps information. The benefit to this tool, Boykin explained, is it that in addition to the standard dashboard functionality, the real value is in the automated development of process maps generated from the execution of process instances. These maps can then be compared to the "as designed" maps to identify issues as well as confirm compliance.

In August of 2004, a pilot project along these lines was conducted in the Asset CARE area. The focus was on the "perform breakdown" process. The goal was to determine if work orders were being properly closed. The process owner and the owner’s team defined key performance indicators.

As a result, "We found out that we had a problem," Boykin said. "We were not closing our work orders in a timely manner. This translates into increased costs to our organization."

The Future

The BPM team currently consists of two business architects, and five business process consultants. The group is focused on continuing to build out a robust business process repository and knowledge base. The goal is to have tightly coupled integration between corporate goals, the activities supporting those goals, the roles assigned to the activities, the skill sets required for specific roles, and the information systems supporting the business processes," she said.

So when asked what it takes to succeed in establishing a viable BPM group without executive sponsorship,

Boykin responded, "You need three skill sets: vision, marketing, and execution. You have to know where you are going; you must be able to execute and produce results, and you must be able to market the results to the rest of the enterprise." At Coors, Boykin provides the thought leadership component. The director, Bob Bonacci, brought to the group the marketing component and Chris Vanzin, has provided the expertise in producing meaningful execution results.

Companies can get started with BPM even if top management does not fully understand the value offered by BPM, Boykin said. "Often, what is more important than sponsorship is a vision and determination - which, in the end, is what propelled this group into the success we have achieved."

Elliot King, Ph.D., is editor-in-chief of BPM Strategies. He has reported on new information technology for over 20 years and is chair of the Communication Department at Loyola College in Maryland. He is co-author of five books and hundreds of articles about the use of new information and communication technology.  

This article originally appeared in the members only BPM Strategies Magazine.  Join today to receive your own copy. 


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