Your waste is our opportunity

Our primary competitive angle of “Your waste is our opportunity” is closely aligned with Jeff Bezo’s business perspective “Your fat margin in my opportunity”, which is employed by Amazon to great effect in multiple markets. We have an antipathy towards waste because of our background in Toyota Production System.

Our experience in enterprise software industry has shown that there is extraordinary amount of waste in the enterprise software marketing, sales, adoption, and operations lifecycle. The number is not scientifically backed but I am suspecting that it may be as high as 60%.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the (Business Workflow) Jungle, ServiceNow

We welcome ServiceNow’s entry into business process workflow market. Our strong belief is that more competition is always better for the customers. Usually more competition leads to lower prices, better products and higher quality. We are not very confident that such a scenario will reveal itself in the case of ServiceNow.

But first let’s evaluate the merits of one approach vs. another based on the needs, desires and aspirations of people that take part in, own, or design business processes for various functional domains. Many of these functional domains such as sales, commerce, marketing, design and engineering, manufacturing, order fulfillment, logistics, supply chain are interrelated. We can argue that ERP and various specialized application suites (CRM, Supply Chain, Human Resources..) already support many of the business processes. The problem has been that ERP and application suites due to their transaction oriented design, complexity and cost, have left huge swaths of people that are central to business process out of the business process. These huge swaths of people have neither the visibility, nor take part in the business process.

ZFlow was designed and has been in use among many medium-sized to large customers for several years to address the above problems that many of these companies faced with ERP systems and application suites. Our customers have designed (themselves) business process workflows in many functional domains, including sales, engineering, manufacturing, order fulfillment, quality, finance and maintenance. What we learned from that experience is that workflow systems are best when they

  • Can support simple to sophisticated workflows that can bring user oriented activities (data preparation, reviews, approvals, etc.) and system integration (now called automation) activities into one process
  • Can handle process data, some of which can be fairly complex, that provides rich context to the process and often drives workflow logic
  • Provides an easy and methodical way for a very large number of people from within the organization and the supply chain to take part in and complete workflow activities
  • Do not charge for every user that participates in the workflow as it can be cost-prohibitive and counter-productive to the whole concept of collaborative workflow
  • Support invitation and participation of users dynamically as part of workflows
  • Require minimal or no programming (We definitely understand the need for programming for sophisticated workflows. In our experience, any introduction of code in a workflow system makes it less dynamic, but in some cases that is what is needed to provide meaningful and useful workflows)
  • Allow continuous updates and improvements to workflow easily. What’s the point of having a workflow if it cannot be improved as and when needed.

In all of the above facets, ZFlow has proven to be one of the best and remains unmatched. We don’t see that changing even with ServiceNow entering the market.

How Excel and ZFlow solve the complex sales quote problem elegantly

While selling is an art, quoting can be maddeningly bureaucratic, riddled with errors, and the pace plodding. The Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) software experience has been, like many things that come out of the world of enterprise software, mostly disappointing. Part of the problem is that there is no end to configurability of quotes and selling is pretty elastic. As a result sales people and analysts run into the hard constraints and rigidity that CPQ systems impose. And the cost of CPQ systems and related implementation can rival GDPs of small nations. Hence the popularity of Excel as the CPQ system of choice. However, just using Excel as the quoting system can lead to process, visibility, search and query related issues.

A few of our customers that have complex CPQ logic and processes have instead decided to use their existing CPQ engines built in Excel and ZFlow (which has tight integration with Excel) to get the best of both worlds. Below is one such scenario. The advantages of this approach are many, including

  • Ability to continue using CPQ logic developed (often over many years) in Excel
  • Sales analysts can still retain control over the CPQ logic as opposed to heavy customization of CPQ, which is usually hard to do and not accessible
  • Support comprehensive workflow that is based on business rules dependent of quote values (for example, a million dollar quote needs to CFO approval)
  • Full visibility of the quote process to all participants
  • A much more flexible and usable CPQ process at a fraction of the cost of CPQ systems

 

 

How to get S/4HANA style benefits without migrating to S/4HANA

The business case for SAP S/4HANA is predicated on intelligent business processes that drive operational excellence, as well as improved user experience, agility and collaboration. For many organizations a move to S/4HANA does make technological and business sense, but may still require a strong financial business case. Or it is quite possible that the money needed, which can be substantial and does not grow on trees, can be hard to come by for many reasons. In addition, the time commitment and resource needs can be daunting and the risk of disrupting underlying business processes high. So it is only natural that many organizations are being careful and taking time. It is a good thing that there is time till 2025 to make the switch.

However, the world is moving at a rapid pace and there is immediate and urgent need for improved user experience, simplicity, agility and collaboration for many business processes in Finance, Purchasing, Sales and Distribution, Manufacturing, Logistics, Maintenance and others.

We bring you ZFlow for SAP in light of this immediate and urgent need as your company’s S/4HANA roadmap is taking shape. For a mere fraction of the cost of S/4HANA migration, ZFlow brings simplicity, intuitiveness, agility and collaboration capabilities that will delight business stakeholders.