By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software

In today’s digitalized world, customers value transparency and accessibility above all else. As a result, organizations are taking a proactive approach to provide critical content to end users at the click of a button.

For over 130 years, Hastings Mutual Insurance Company has served and protected its clients throughout the Midwest. The regional insurance agency, with nearly 600 offices and 500 employees, has provided security and peace of mind to customers of all shapes and sizes, from small personal family policies to larger insurance packages that have helped to protect farmers and businesses from the unexpected. With over $1 billion in total assets, the company has grown significantly since its humble beginnings in 1885. Still, Hastings continues to pride itself on its relationships and the care it provides its customers. That is why Hastings Mutual decided to look closely at how it managed and distributed its content to its clients.

Since the early 1980s, the company has used an in-house Policy Administration System (PAS) with what is today Rocket Software’s Mobius Content Services Platform to classify, manage, and grant access along its mainframe to more than 4,000 unique document types. Although current operations were running optimally, Hastings understood that its PAS’s lack of integration with modern technologies would eventually create issues. Hastings management decided on a proactive approach, taking on the challenge of modernizing its existing mainframe operations to an open-source environment to remain competitive in future markets. In its push to modernize, the regional insurance provider also believed updating its client viewing system to provide a more intuitive, user-friendly experience would benefit its customers and employees alike.

The challenges of preserving historical data

While migrating information from the mainframe to open source comes with its own obstacles, Hastings Mutual faced even greater challenges. The company had been developing and storing mission-critical documents and information on its old infrastructure for over three decades — including regulatory, accounting, and workflow documents. Not only would Hastings need to find a way to continue generating these documents throughout the migration process, but it was also essential to maintain the integrity of its historical documents and information during its transfer onto open-source systems. Failure to do so could lead to regulatory sanctions and even legal implications.

With limited resources and a lack of experience with mainframe migration, Hastings realized it needed help to clean up its Logical Partition (LPAR), preserve the integrity of its historical documents, and successfully downsize its mainframe operations — all while maintaining fluid operations.

Finding the right support for mainframe migration

Hastings turned to Rocket Software, whose Professional Services team got to work immediately to assist Hastings’ operational team in the clean-up of its existing LPAR environment. Together, the teams went through each historical document within the LPAR to rename and properly segment it for migration to the correct open-source system. 

Once documents were properly classified and stored within the LPAR ecosystem, Hastings turned its attention to mainframe migration. Hastings was able to modernize its mainframe operations while still utilizing its PAS in conjunction with Mobius Content Services to generate critical documents on its mainframe. After generation, the documents were automatically duplicated and safely transferred to the proper open-source environment. And Hastings was able to begin the migration of its historical documents safely and securely from the mainframe to its open-source systems. 

Improving customer experience

Hastings’ pivot to a more innovative web client has also been essential to the migration’s success and the company’s growing customer satisfaction. Now, end users can access Hastings’ digitized documents with the click of a button — reducing document latency and making high-priority documents available within seconds rather than minutes. And having an intuitive open-source viewing system has empowered Hastings’ end users to find critical information faster and without the hassle of asking for assistance.

The benefits of great partnership

As a result of the project, Hastings Mutual continues to successfully move toward a hybrid open-source infrastructure. The company was able to modernize its operations to produce, store, and distribute documents to its clients faster, more securely, and at a lower cost.

Throughout the migration process, Hastings has not missed a beat. As a regional insurance provider, the ability to continue to provide outstanding service to clients when they need it the most has been pivotal.

As Mainframe experts, Rocket Software helps businesses avoid complications and enhance the management and security of their most critical information. To learn more about our suite of Mobius products, click here.

Digital Transformation

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is making a foray into supply chain management with the release of a cloud application that integrates machine-learning to help large enterprises, which often use multiple ERP systems, get a unified view of suppliers, inventory, logistics and other supply-chain related components.

The launch of the application, dubbed AWS Supply Chain, comes at a time when the world has been hit with a myriad of supply chain issues, including the pandemic and ongoing war in Ukraine.

Supply chain management (SCM) is the fastest growing market in the enterprise application software segment and is estimated to generate sales of $20.24 billion in 2022, according to market research firm Gartner.

AWS Supply Chain, announced at AWS re:Invent Tuesday, can connect to existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) suites and supply chain management systems via built-in connectors to unify all data into a supply chain data lake, which can be later used to generate actionable insights, the company said. The connectors use pretrained machine learning models based on Amazon.com’s own history of supply chain data to extract and aggregate data from ERP and supply chain management systems.

Most enterprises today use disparate systems for supply chain management, which can  lead to delays in identifying potential supply chain disruptions, said Diego Pantoja-Navajas, vice president of AWS Supply Chain.

AWS Supply Chain offers map-based visualization

To provide supply chain visibility and combat this problem, AWS Supply Chain, which can be accessed via the AWS Management Console, provides a visual representation of the unified data on a real-time visual map that contains contextual information, the company said.

The map-based interface, along with contextual information such as inventory shortages or delays, can be used by inventory managers, demand planners and supply chain leaders to de-escalate potential disruptions, Pantoja-Navajas said, adding that the service could be set to generate alerts in case of disruptive scenarios.

Additionally, AWS Supply Chain will automatically provide recommended actions to resolve supply chain issues, such as moving inventory among locations, after considering factors such as the distance between facilities, and the impact on sustainability, the company said, adding that teams can collaborate within the application using its built-in chat and messaging functionality.

The new service, according to the company, is priced on a pay-as-you-consume model. AWS will charge $0.28 per hour for the first 10GB of storage and services. An additional $0.25 per GB per month will be charged when storage data exceeds 10GB, the company said.

AWS Supply Chain, which is in preview, can be accessed across US East (North Virginia), US West (Oregon), and Europe (Frankfurt), regions, the company said, adding that availability across more regions will follow soon.

Other products that AWS Supply Chain will compete with include Oracle Fusion Cloud SCM and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management.

Cloud Computing, Supply Chain Management Software

If you’re looking to accelerate your organization’s digital transformation, the good news is that there are some proven principles you can apply. By employing Value Stream Management (VSM), some top enterprises are now better positioned to speed their transformation—and seeing multimillion-dollar savings as well.

If you’re not familiar with this concept, the basic premise is this: Through VSM, executives gain the visibility to align teams, workflows, and investments around one key aspect: customer value. In the process, they can break down the silos that stifle digital transformation. Following are a couple of real-world examples of what this means for leading enterprises.

Here are some highlights from a new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Report, sponsored by Broadcom.

The Boeing Company

One of the world’s largest aerospace companies, The Boeing Company has been employing VSM for several years now. Through VSM, they optimized resource utilization and reduced waste.

“We always thought we were doing a good job of producing value until we started to work through this,” explained Lynda Van Vleet, Boeing’s portfolio management systems product manager. “In our first two years, we saved hundreds of millions of dollars. But that wasn’t our goal. I think a lot of organizations look at this as a way of saving money because you usually do, but if you start out looking at it as a way of creating value, that just comes along with it.”

The organization changed legacy approaches to product management and project investment. This enabled them to speed up their ability to innovate and pursue digital transformation. They created cross-functional teams that empowered employees to spend more time and effort on delivering customer value.

By establishing cross-team visibility, leaders were able to spot redundancies. For example, they saw how different IT organizations had their own analytics teams. “We had people in every organization doing the same thing,” explained Van Vleet. Boeing’s executives established a single analytics team to realign the work more efficiently and improve consistency.

Verizon

A multinational telecommunications company, Verizon offers another example of the power of VSM. Through their VSM implementation, they also gained advantages that translated to multimillion-dollar cost savings.

As Jason Newman, senior manager, systems engineering, Connected Solutions Group strategy and operations at Verizon, revealed to HBR, “We had some siloed organizations, and everything worked great within the silo, but as the company introduced products that crossed boundaries—the method of everyone focused on their own space wasn’t cutting it.”

By implementing VSM, the team has been able to foster the free flow of information across teams and gain dramatically improved visibility into value streams. Leaders have acquired deep information that has fueled more accurate, data-driven decisions about governance and staffing. 

VSM equips executives with the information needed to understand the impact of strategy shifts, including who is affected and which strategic goals might be jeopardized. Now, when executives are contemplating strategic changes, VSM gives them the information to quickly understand “who is impacted and which strategic goals might be jeopardized,” Newman stated. “Just the efficiencies gained from governing and staffing were multimillion-dollar cost savings.”

Conclusion

By employing VSM theories and tools, teams around the world are realizing massive benefits. To learn more about how some top enterprises have made VSM work in practice, be sure to read the briefing paper from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, “Using Value Stream Management to Speed Digital Transformation and Eliminate the Silos.” Sponsored by Broadcom, this report features the insights of industry analysts and expert VSM practitioners, who share some of the key lessons drawn from successful VSM initiatives. You can also visit ValueOps by Broadcom to learn more about the benefits and how to get started with VSM.

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Explore ValueOps Value Stream Management, built to manage what you value most. 

Digital Transformation

By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software

If you ask business leaders to name their company’s most valuable asset, most will say data. But while businesses recognize the value of data, few have the processes and tools in place to access its full potential. In our most recent Rocket survey, 46% of IT professionals indicate that at least half of their content is “dark data”— meaning it’s processed but never used.

A big reason for the proliferation of dark data is the amount of unstructured data within business operations. Research shows that more than 60% of today’s corporate data is unstructured, and a significant amount of it is in the form of non-traditional “records,” like text and social media messages, audio files, video, and images. These numbers are growing with the continuation of remote work and the continued adoption of collaborative cloud software. Organizations that have not evolved their data management processes to reflect this exponential growth in data are vulnerable to missed opportunities and non-compliance. Therefore, many have accelerated digital transformation efforts to modernize operations and ensure they are reaping their data’s potential value.

In August of 2022, Rocket Software surveyed more than 500 corporate IT and line of business professionals to better understand the current challenges content management teams face and the steps to overcome these obstacles. Let’s take a closer look at the key findings in Rocket’s 2022 Survey Report, Content Management: The Movement to Modernization , and how content management software is helping businesses take advantage of the vast amount of information while staying compliant in today’s fast-paced, complex markets.

The challenges of today’s content management

The transition to remote work and migration to open cloud systems has allowed businesses to provide employees with more flexible working schedules and introduce cutting-edge technology to operations. However, remote work has led to employees communicating and sharing information on personal devices, which has increased the amount of valuable business content scattered being stored on shared and personal drives. Scattered and hard-to-track data — also known as data sprawl — has posed significant threats to companies’ ability to govern their content and has left them susceptible to regulatory infractions and missed opportunities. Our survey found that 37% of IT professionals believe employees saving content on shared and personal drives presents the greatest challenge to content management.

Along with data sprawl, IT professionals have grown concerned over the amount of redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT) data building up in companies’ systems. In fact, over a third of those surveyed reported ROT as the greatest threat to data management. Teams’ inability to properly locate, process, and remove excess or unnecessary data has led to data overload, higher costs, data discrepancies, and increased risk of data corruption and non-compliance.

While modernization may be the answer to data sprawl and ROT, IT professionals say that disruptions caused by the movement to cloud systems have also significantly hindered employees’ ability to manage data. Thirty-six percent of respondents consider cloud migration the greatest challenge to content governance moving forward.

While cloud migration may pose short-term challenges, unstructured and unmanaged data is a greater risk to operations as it will inevitably affect productivity, compliance, and a company’s overall success. Teams need the visibility and resources provided by cloud technologies to keep up with and eliminate data sprawl and ROT. Businesses that neglect implementing innovative tools into content processes put operations at a significant disadvantage.  

Taking advantage of unstructured data with content management software

Nearly one-fifth of professionals admitted that all of their organization’s data is unstructured. While most unstructured data goes unused, 59% of IT professionals say their company’s unstructured data and content is extremely or very significant. This revelation should leave business leaders with the fear of missing out (FOMO) when it comes to their unprocessed and underutilized content.

To get the most out of their data, businesses have begun introducing integrative content tools into operations. Integrating content software with popular collaboration and communication tools, like Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams, provides content teams with a unified view of all their company’s data from a single platform. This enables data professionals to easily monitor, process, store, and remove all their companies’ data while helping organizations get the most out of their unstructured data.

The need to automate content governance

The introduction of complex data privacy regulations globally has made data governance more challenging. In fact, only 33% of IT professionals feel their organization’s unstructured data is adequately governed. This lack of accountability leaves businesses vulnerable to regulatory infractions, substantial fines, and potential criminal prosecution. Many IT professionals are pushing for automated data governance processes, with over three-quarters believing their company would gain a significant competitive advantage if information security and compliance operations were automated.

While innovative content management technologies that automate and streamline content governance exist, they are still unavailable in many of today’s business operations due to ongoing misconceptions about the limitations of mainframe technology. However, by utilizing the right combination of content modernization solutions, like Rocket Software’s Mobius Content Services suite, teams can bring the power of automation and innovative practices to content operations along any infrastructure. 

The role of content management software moving forward

While outdated processes and a lack of automation continue to hinder content management efforts, it appears that businesses are finally recognizing their importance. Over the next 18 months, about one-third of IT professionals say their companies plan to continue modernization efforts by introducing more artificial intelligence, reporting and analytics tools, and integrative content software into operations.

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Moving forward, businesses will continue to deal with stringent compliance regulations, the growing adoption of remote work, and increasing customer demands for faster service. Organizations must implement solutions into their operations that enable them to govern and leverage all of their content to gain a competitive advantage. By utilizing content management software, like Rocket Software’s Mobius Content Services , businesses can provide IT professionals with an unparalleled overview of a company’s entire content system and reduce human activity with automation capabilities. This will enable companies to ensure compliance while also taking data operations and utilization to the next level.

Data Management

By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software

In today’s fast-paced digital business world, organizations have become highly adaptive and agile to keep up with the ever-evolving demands of consumers and the market. This has pushed many organizations to accelerate their digital transformation efforts in order to remain competitive and better serve their constituents — and there is no sign of slowing down. Statista estimates that global investment in digital transformation is expected to increase significantly between 2022 and 2025, from $1.8 trillion to $2.8 trillion. While a recent Rocket survey on the  state of the mainframe showed that the mainframe — due to its reliability and superior security — is here to stay, many organizations are moving to hybrid infrastructure with a “cloud-first approach” to operations. A key component to the appeal of cloud-first business models is cloud technologies’ ability to simplify processes and streamline workflows through integration and automation.

This is especially true for content management operations looking to navigate the complexities of data compliance while getting the most from their data. According to IBM, every day people create an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (that’s 2.5 followed by 18 zeros!). IT professionals tasked with managing, storing, and governing the vast amount of incoming information need help. Content management solutions can simplify data governance and provide the tools needed to simplify data migration and facilitate a cloud-first approach to content management.

Let’s take a closer look at the essential features cloud-first businesses should look for in a content management software.

Enhanced content-rich automation

Data analysts looking to streamline content processes need a content-rich automation software that allows them to easily design and deploy workflows, integrated processes and customize applications. The best modern content solutions leverage low-code/no-code process and presentation services to streamline the construction of business applications and provide a secure and collaborative platform for execution. This gives companies the ability to quickly adapt software and processes and implement innovative methodologies — like DevOps and Continuous Integration Continuous Development (CI/CD) testing — to continually improve operations, bring products and services to market faster, and develop better customer outcomes.

Expanded collaboration support

Digital transformation brings about a lot of change — in technology, processes, communication channels, and so on. To minimize business disruptions and avoid misunderstandings or important information being overlooked, it is critical for teams to maintain healthy communication and collaboration throughout transformation. Nothing can hinder digital team collaboration more than a lack of connectivity. As much as content management teams need to stay connected in order to maintain data integrity and compliance, so too does their content software. Teams need a highly integrative content management technology that can connect them across third-party vendors and popular communication (Slack, Microsoft Teams) and management tools (Microsoft Sharepoint® and 365) to centralize internal communications and shared information.  

Extended cloud governance

The move to cloud-first operations brings both positives and negatives for content management teams. Implementing a cloud data management operation provides teams with unparalleled data availability, mobility, and visibility. However, cloud applications are less secure than mainframe environments and increase vulnerabilities to data breaches. To combat these cloud-based challenges, businesses must look for content management solutions that support immutable cloud storage technologies, like AWS Object Lock, which allows users to store data using a write-once-read-many (WORM) model that mitigates tampering by disabling the ability to edit content once it is stored.

Modernized infrastructure deployment

Manual data migration can be a heavy lift for content management teams. Each piece of valuable information must be manually pulled, copied, reformatted, and moved to the new cloud system. While these tasks are not difficult, they are tedious and vulnerable to mistakes that can delay operations or jeopardize valuable information. Also, these tasks pull employees away from more important content governance tasks, which can leave an organization vulnerable to missed opportunities and regulatory infractions. Organizations need content management tools to facilitate migration efforts, streamline processes, and mitigate business disruptions. Teams need software that can automate the tedious manual processes involved in deploying, managing, and scaling containerized applications while maintaining the integrity and security of essential documents throughout cloud migration. By eliminating the potential for human error employees will be free to focus on more business-critical content management tasks.

Organizations looking to optimize their content management operations throughout data migration must leverage content management technology. Tools like Rocket Software’s Mobius Content Services Suite of technologies deliver the agility and adaptability needed to make the most of your content while maintaining compliance. Mobius Content Services provides content-rich automation, modernization deployment and connectivity to streamline processes, facilitate collaboration, and support a business’s transition to a cloud-first approach.

To learn more about Rocket Software’s Mobius Content Services Suite, click here.

Digital Transformation

Supply chain management is a growing field and a satisfying profession, as a recent survey from the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) found that 96% of those surveyed were highly satisfied with their career in SCM, with average rating of 8.4 out of 10. The survey also found that it pays to get certified: SCM pros with at least one certification get paid on average 19% more than those who aren’t certified, and those with two or three certifications earn salaries that are 39% and 50% higher than the median, respectively.

And with the global supply chain remaining a vital concern for businesses across nearly every industry, the value of those with verifiable SCM skills will likely only increase, especially as IT turns to analytics and other data-related measures to help alleviate issues businesses face with their supply chains.

Whether you’re already making a career in supply chain management, or want to break into the field, here are 12 supply chain management certifications that can round out your resume and give you a leg up against the competition.

Top 12 SCM certifications

ASCM Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD)ASCM Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)ASCM Certified Supply Chain Professional certification (CSCP)ASCM Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR-P) EndorsementCertified Six Sigma Black BeltISM Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)ISM Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity (CPSD)NCMA Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM)Oracle E-Business Suite 12 Supply Chain Certified Implementation Specialist: Oracle Purchasing CertificationSCPro Council of Supply Chain Management FundamentalsSCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)SOLE Certified Professional Logistician (CPL)

ASCM Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD)

The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), formerly known as the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), offers a number of certifications to demonstrate your SCM skills. The ASCM Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD) certification is designed for those focused on improving efficiency in distribution and warehousing in order to optimize the overall customer experience. The exam covers the best practices around logistics, transportation, and distribution with a focus on topics such as logistics overview, network design, sustainability and reverse logistics, capacity planning, demand management, order and inventory management, and global logistics and transportation. According to the ASCM, CLTD certified professionals report earning 25% higher salaries than those without the certification. To earn the CLTD designation, you will need to pass one exam, and to maintain the certification you will need to earn and submit 75 professional development maintenance points every five years.

Exam fee: $985 per exam for Plus members, $1,315 per exam for Core and nonmembers

ASCM Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)

You’ll need to pass two exams within three years to earn your Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) certification from ASCM, and you’ll need to maintain your certification every five years by completing 75 professional development points. If your certification isn’t maintained within five years, it will expire before the 10-year mark, and you will be required to retake the exam. For every year that your certification is suspended, you’ll need to submit an additional 15 professional development points. When considering the cost, remember that you’ll have to pay the fee for both exams — the fee only applies to one exam at a time. According to ASCM, those with a CPIM certification reporting earning up to 23% more per year over their uncertified peers. The exam covers supply chain fundamentals, plan supply, inventory management, continuous improvement and quality management, strategy, sales and operations planning, and inventory, among other topics.

Exam fee: $545 per exam for Plus members, $760 per exam for Core and nonmembers

ASCM Certified Supply Chain Professional certification (CSCP)

To be eligible to take ASCM’s Certified Supply Chain Professional exam, you’ll need three years related experience or a bachelor’s degree or international equivalent. As with the CPIM certification above, you’ll need to submit an extra 15 points for every year your certification is suspended if you let it lapse. The CSCP certification exam covers topics such as supply chains, demand management and forecasting, global supply chain networks, sourcing products and services, internal operations and inventory, supply chain risk, and optimization and sustainability. According to the ASCM, those with a CSCP certification report earning salaries that are 40% higher than their peers.

Exam fee: $1,095 for Plus members, $1,425 for Core and nonmembers

ASCM Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR-P) Endorsement

The SCOR-P endorsement from ASCM validates your knowledge in the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model and methods. The SCOR model is a supply chain approach that helps link SCM to business goals, metrics, processes, and other internal departments and stakeholders. The exam is included in the course, which extensively covers the SCOR model to help you apply it to real-life supply chain problems, support organizational goals, improve efficiency, organize SCOR projects, and implement processes. To become SCOR-P certified, you will need to attend a three-day SCOR-P public training or an in-house corporate training where you’ll study the workbook material in a group setting and take the exam at the end of the three-day training. 

Exam fee: The exam is included in the course fee, which varies per program

Certified Six Sigma

The Six Sigma method was designed to streamline quality management and it’s still widely used today to help eliminate waste in processes, identify areas for improvement, and keep track of the supply chain while developing products. The Six Sigma certification scheme is often found within organizations, earning you “belts” as you move from green belt all the way up to black belt and make your way up the certification ladder. It’s typically used in large companies to create paths towards leadership in operations and to maintain a focus on efficiency and quality. The principles in Six Sigma can be extremely helpful for keeping your supply chain lean and agile, and it’s a valuable certification if you’re working in an organization that leans on the Six Sigma method.

Exam fee: Varies by location and provider

ISM Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) offers a Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) certification that validates your knowledge on supply management functions across several industries. The ISM touts the CPSM as the “most recognized supply chain management certification” you can earn. To gain your credentials, you will need to pass three exams. The ISM offers several certification paths, including self-paced learning, learning bundles with everything you’ll need for all three exams, guided learning hybrid courses, and classroom-based training onsite at your organization. You can take the three exams in any order but to qualify, you’ll need three years of full-time SCM experience in a position that isn’t clerical or support. To maintain and renew your certification after four years, you’ll need to earn 60 hours of approved continuing education credits. If you already passed ISM’s CPSD certification (see below), you will not need to take the foundation exam for the CPSM certification, since it’s included in both. If you aren’t already a member, the cost of the nonmember fee for the exam also includes one year of ISM Direct membership.

Exam fee: $495 for members, $725 for nonmembers

ISM Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity (CPSD)

The second certification from the ISM is the Certified Professional Supplier Diversity (CPSD) certification, which you can earn on top of the CPSM certification from ISM. It’s a relatively unique certification that focuses on the growing demand for companies to “engage in supplier diversity to be socially responsible or to meet customer or federal requirements,” according to the ISM. The CPSD certification consists of two exams, but you can skip the foundational exam if you already hold your CPSM exam. To qualify for the exam, you’ll need three years of supplier diversity or management experience and a bachelor’s degree, or five years of experience. To maintain your certification, you’ll need to complete 50 hours of approved continuing education credits over a three-year period. According to the ISM, those with a CPSD certification earn around 10% more than their uncertified peers.

Exam fee: $229 for members, $379 for nonmembers

NCMA Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM)

The National Contract Management Association (NCMA) offers multiple certifications, including the Certified Professional Contract Manager (CPCM). The certification is designed for those who participate in government-to-business and business-to-business contract and subcontract activities, who want to better understand how buyers’ actions impact sellers and vice versa, and those interested in learning more about contract management. Candidates for the exam will need a strong understanding of the Certified Management Body of Knowledge (CMBOK) and a minimum of five years’ experience in a relevant field. The NCMA also offers a Certified Federal Contract Manager (CFCM) certification for those working in or with the government and a Certified Commercial Contract Manager (CCCM) certification for those in the commercial industry.

Exam fee: $135 for domestic, $160 for international exams

Oracle E-Business Suite 12 Supply Chain Certified Implementation Specialist: Oracle Purchasing Certification

The Oracle E-Business Suite 12 Supply Chain Certified Implementation Specialist certification is targeted at intermediate-level implementation team members who are members of the Oracle PartnerNetwork with a focus on selling and implementing Oracle E-Business Suite Supply Chain Management modules. The certification is designed to show employers that you have the right skillset to navigate the R12 E-Business Suite, enter data, pull information, form queries, and access online help. You’ll also need to know how to manage the purchasing process, set up and use the R12 Oracle Purchasing software, and navigate purchase orders. The exam covers topics such as navigating in R12 Oracle applications, introduction to Oracle Applications R12, shared entities and integration as well as the fundamentals of Flexfields, Multi-Org, and Workflow and Alerts. It also covers topics such as purchasing, suppliers, document security, routing and approval, RFQs and quotations, approved supplier lists and sourcing rules, requisitions, and automation.

Exam fee: $245

SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Fundamentals

The SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Fundamentals certification is an entry-level supply chain management certification that offers eight certification tracks that cover the most important aspects of SCM. These tracks include supply chain management principles, transportation operations, demand planning, manufacturing and service operations, customer service operations, warehouse operations, inventory management, supply management, and procurement. There are no eligibility requirements and each exam for the eight tracks consists of a 40-question multiple-choice format and the credentials do not expire or need renewal.

Exam fee: $200 per certification track

SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)

The SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) certification is unique in that it combines a multi-level education with a three-tiered exam process. There are three levels of SCPro certification and the first level, SCPro Level One, covers the fundamentals and eight elements of supply chain management. At the second level, SCPro Level Two: Analysis and Application of Supply Chain Challenges, you’ll be tested on your ability to apply SCM knowledge in various scenarios. The third and final level, SCPro Level Three: Initiation of Supply Chain Transformation, certifies your ability to “positively impact an organization” through a hands-on project that demonstrates your skills. You will need to renew your certification for all three levels every three years, which will require 60 hours of eligible professional development activities. You will need to complete at least 20 hours of professional development annually, but no more than 30 hours per year.

Level 1 exam fee: $650 for members, $975 for nonmembers

Level 2 exam fee: $1,095 for members, $1,500 for nonmembers

Level 3 exam fee: N/A

SOLE Certified Professional Logistician (CPL)

The International Society of Logistics (SOLE) offers a Certified Professional Logistician (CPL) certification in logistics, which is a key element of supply chain management in certain industries such as commerce, defense, federal and local government agencies, and education. The exam takes place twice a year in May and November over an eight-hour period, with two four-hour sessions; you will need to pass all four parts of the exam before you can earn your certification. It’s a relatively advanced certification — to qualify for the CPL exam, you’ll need at least nine years’ experience practicing or teaching logistics and two years’ experience in at least two fields of logistics. Each year of undergraduate accredited coursework in logistics subjects is equivalent to one year of professional experience, up to four years. For those with a master’s degree or doctoral degree, you’ll need four or three years’ additional experience, respectively.

Exam fee: $225 for members, $375 for nonmembers

More on supply chain management:

What is supply chain management? Mastering logistics end to endHow CIOs can help reduce supply chain anxietiesSupply chain woes? Analytics may be the answerSupply chain analytics: 5 tips for smoother logisticsSupply chain analytics: 3 success storiesWhat is SCOR? A model for improving supply chain management10 best graduate programs for supply chain managementCareers, Certifications, IT Skills, Supply Chain Management Software

For probably the umpteenth time, we use the term “garbage in, garbage out” when summarizing problems with data quality. It has indeed become a cliché. Various industry studies have uncovered the high cost of bad data, and it’s estimated that poor data quality costs organizations an average of $12 million yearly. Data teams waste 40% of their time troubleshooting data downtime, even at mature data organizations, and utilizing advanced data stacks.

Data quality, which has always been a critical component of enterprise data governance, remains an Achilles heel for CIOs, CCOs, and CROs. In fact, data quality has become even more challenging to tackle with the prolific increase in data volume and types — structured, unstructured, and semi-structured data.

Data quality is not just a technology problem and never will be because we rarely think of the quality of the data we source when implementing new business initiatives and technology. Technology is only an enabler, and to get the most from the technology, we need to think about the business processes and look for opportunities to re-engineer or revamp these business processes when we start a new technology project. Some of the aspects of understanding these business processes are:

What data do we need?Do we understand the sources of this data?Do we have control over these sources?Do we need to apply any transformations (i.e., changes to this data)?Most importantly, do our end users trust the data for their usage and reporting?

These questions sound basic and obvious. However, most organizations have trust issues with their data. The end users rarely know the source of truth, so they end up building their data fiefdoms, creating their own reports, and maintaining their own dashboards.

Eventually, this causes ‘multiple sources of ‘truth,’ each being a different version of the other. As a result, this causes sleepless nights, especially when we want to submit a regulatory report, make any executive decisions, or submit SEC filings. Not only is this wasting valuable engineering time, but it’s also costing precious revenue and diverting attention away from initiatives moving the business’s needle. In addition, this is a misuse of data scientists’ core skills and adds additional costs and time that could be better used for the organization’s business priorities.

Over time, data quality issues have become more extensive, complex, and costlier to manage. A survey conducted by Monte Carlo suggests that nearly half of all organizations measure data quality most often by the number of customer complaints their company receives, highlighting the ad hoc nature of this vital element of modern data strategy. Most organizations decide to address this issue in a piecemeal fashion that is a practical approach but requires a tremendous effort to understand the data, document the lineage, identify data owners, identify key data elements (KDE), maintain these KDEs, and apply the data governance lifecycle to the data.

No wonder this is only a tactical solution; sooner or later, we need to start working on another tactical project to resolve the issues caused by the previous tactical project and so on. This means an endless cycle of massive spending on IT, frustration because of low return on investment from technology projects, and buying new technology products that promise a total overhaul.

What is data quality management?

Data quality management (DQM) is the set of procedures, policies, and processes an enterprise uses to maintain reliable data in a data warehouse as a system of record, golden record, master record, or single version of the truth. First, the data must be cleansed using a structured workflow involving profiling, matching, merging, correcting, and augmenting source data records. DQM workflows must also ensure the data’s format, content, handling, and management comply with all relevant standards and regulations.

So how do we tackle data quality with a proactive approach? There are a few options, from the traditional approach to the real-time solution.

Traditional approach: Data quality at the sourceThis is the traditional and, in most cases, the best approach to handling data qualityThis includes identifying all the data sources (external and internal)Documenting the data quality requirements and rulesApplying these rules at the source level (in the case of external sources, we apply these rules where the data enters our environment)Once the quality is handled at the source level, we publish this data for the end users through applications such as a data lake or a data warehouse. This data lake or warehouse becomes the “system of insight” for everyone in the organization.Pros of this approach:Most reliable approachOne-time and strategic solutionIt helps you with optimizing your business processesCons of this approachWe need a cultural shift to look at data quality at the source level, ensuring this is applied every time there is a new data source.This is possible only with executive sponsorship, i.e., a top-down decision-making approach, making it an integral part of every employee’s daily activity.Data owners must be ready to invest time and funding to implement data quality at the sources they are responsible for.Implementation of a data quality management toolModern DQM tools automate profiling, monitoring, parsing, standardizing, matching, merging, correcting, cleansing, and enhancing data for delivery into enterprise data warehouses and other downstream repositories. The tools enable creating and revising data quality rules. They support workflow-based monitoring and corrective actions, both automated and manual, in response to quality issues.This approach includes working with the business stakeholders to develop an overall data quality strategy and framework and selecting and implementing the best tool for that framework.The implemented tool should be able to discover all data, profile it, and find patterns. The tool then needs to be trained with data quality rules.Once the tool is trained to a satisfactory level, it starts applying the rules, which helps improve the overall data quality.The training of the tool is perpetual — it keeps learning more as you discover and input the new rules.Pros of this approach:Easy to implement and quick resultsThere is no need to separately work on in-depth lineage documentation (tool automates the data lineage) and governance methodology; we need to define the DQ workflows so tools can automate those.Cons of this approach:Training of the tool requires a good understanding of data and data quality requirementsThere is a tendency to expect that everything will be automated. This is not the case.This is not a strategic solution; it does not help with business process improvement.

Based on the above considerations, we believe the best approach is a combination of the traditional and the DQM tools approach:

First, set up a business-driven data quality framework and an organization responsible for supporting it.Second, define an enterprise DQ philosophy: “Whoever creates the data owns the data.” Surround this with guiding principles and appropriate incentives. Organize around domain-driven design and treat data as a product.Third, develop an architectural blueprint that treats good data and bad data separately and deploy a robust real-time exception framework that notifies the data owner of data quality issues. This framework should include a real-time dashboard highlighting success and failure with clear and well-defined metrics. Bad data should never flow into the good data pipeline.Fourth, incorporating this holistic DQ ecosystem should be mandated for each domain/source/application in a reasonable timeframe and every new application going forward.

Data quality remains one of the foremost challenges for most organizations. There is no guaranteed approach to solving this problem. One needs to look at the various factors, such as the organization’s technology landscape, legacy architecture, existing data governance operating model, business processes, and, most importantly, the organizational culture. The problem cannot be solved only with new technology or by adding more people. It needs to be a combination of business process re-engineering, a data-driven decision-making culture, and the ability to use the DQ tools most optimally. It is not a one-time effort, but a lifestyle change for the organization.

Learn more about Protiviti data and analytics services.

Data Management

For many of today’s IT teams, there’s a common, recurring question that keeps being posed: Why are we doing this?

This question is fundamental, some may say basic, but it is often one that teams don’t get good, solid answers to. Further, this speaks to a broader lack of visibility and insight. Among the many potential initiatives considered, why was the current one selected? At a higher level, what’s the reasoning behind the relative staffing and budgeting priorities across products, support, and operations? Why do some teams have ample resources, while others are running lean? Even worse, what if teams find out that they’ve been wasting significant time on a “zombie” project, that is, one that’s lost executive sponsorship? For example, weeks after an executive departed, teams may find out there’s no longer support for an initiative they’ve dedicated significant effort to, and that it is going to be shelved before it ever sees the light of day.

When teams are wasting time focusing on zombie projects or they’re operating in the dark in terms of how their efforts map to business priorities, their productivity, morale, and results can all suffer.

This underscores why instituting Value Stream Management (VSM) is such a vital endeavor.

Simply put, VSM is about maximizing the delivery of value to customers. Through VSM, teams seek to ensure they’re properly funding, defining, aligning, measuring, and optimizing value streams.

VSM can provide leaders with transparency into the work that’s being done and how that aligns with their investments. Further, VSM is about bridging the gap between business and IT.

Through VSM, development teams and their management can gain better insight into the purpose of their work, and how it translates into value for customers and the organization.

VSM platforms can be integral in realizing this potential. VSM platforms can help teams manage work and investments across the enterprise. Not only can work be seen from a top-down view but also from a bottom-up perspective. This is beneficial for many different reasons. At the most basic level, teams that understand why they are being asked to work on a particular initiative will have a higher level of engagement and commitment to making that initiative a success.

More practically, the understanding of how work aligns with the organization’s strategic goals allows project teams to make more informed decisions on the approach to use, the way to overcome problems, and so on. In an agile environment, where success is dependent on empowered teams, that level of transparency is critical.

Transparency isn’t just important to the teams doing the work either. PMOs and related support functions have to ensure the effective use of resources, and that means delivering the best possible combination of business outcomes. Only when they can view the end-to-end integration of work — from goal, to investment decision, to work plan — can they intelligently make those prioritization and scheduling choices. The same holds true for product owners. Their focus is different than the PMO, but they must translate business vision into technical priorities, and that can only happen with end-to-end transparency.

Advanced VSM platforms can represent a solution for teams across the enterprise. From IT to business executives, these platforms can support planning, decision making, investment, and resources management. Through VSM platforms, teams can stop operating in the dark, and they can avoid having to waste time on zombie projects.

To learn more about ValueOps, the VSM platform from Broadcom, be sure to visit our ValueOps VSM page. Find out how you can deliver more value to your customers and gain increased visibility and alignment in your organization.

Explore ValueOps Value Stream Management, built to manage what you value most.

Collaboration Software

To Guy Hadari, CIO of Biogen, the most important, but often overlooked skill for a CIO is management.

“Most people consider the CIO to be a technology person, and they want to put them in a technology box, but technology should be only 20% of a CIO’s job,” says Hadari, who has been leading IT for the $15 billion biotech business since March 2021. “CIOs need to understand infrastructure, security, and business applications at a high level, but it is more important that they know how to manage a business function. A CIO with a half billion-dollar budget is essentially the CEO of a very complex business.”

As Hadari sees it, “The challenge is that most up-and-coming IT professionals are trained to be technology implementers and innovators, and so are ill equipped for the management aspects of the job,” something that he experienced personally. In his first few years as CIO, Hadari’s comfort zone was data, analytics, and statistics, and that was the lens he used to lead IT. “Although my early years focused on the application of technology to business problems, it was during my years in management roles with IBM that I started to see that technology depth was keeping me from being a good manager.”

With several CIO stints now under his belt, Hadari certainly learned how to manage, and today he places a premium on the management skills of his senior leadership team. Here are the essential management skills he looks for in IT leaders today.

1. The ability to think strategically — and focus on details

“I expect IT leaders to know their business, the details, the numbers, and also be able to step back and take a bigger look,” he says.

2. The savvy to run IT like a business

Hadari looks for managers who understand that good management is a steady cadence of activities you need to conduct in order to run IT like a business. “The most challenging aspect of management is the repetitiveness,” he says.  “It can be very challenging to create something with continuity and sustainability.” But that is what Hadari is looking for: someone who has created an organization that is so well managed that they can walk away without causing immediate disruption.

At Biogen, Hadari uses a management framework that functions as the drum beat of the organization. The framework, which every leader on the IT team uses, contains a regular schedule of IT town halls, meetings, and functional reviews. “The framework can seem ‘boring,’ but it keeps the business running,” Hadari says. “And it gives us credibility when we talk to the business, because we know all of the details. Is it sexy and transformative? No, it is management 101, but solid operational management processes have been critical to the last three transformations I have been privileged to lead.”

3. A knack for asking the right questions — before providing solutions

“Asking questions is difficult. It is easier to start with answers or just deliver a solution,” says Hadari, who considers asking questions before proposing solutions to be a state of mind. “You have to want to get to the heart of the problem by digging into the specifics,” he says.

For example, say that a sales manager asks for a new CRM tool to better drive sales. By asking the right questions, the IT leader learns that the sales people are losing time because it takes them an hour to enter expenses. The solution is not CRM; it’s a better process for expense management. “‘If we reduce expense management time by 30 minutes, will that help to drive sales?’ is a better question than, ‘What kind of CRM tool do you want?’” Hadari says.

4. The instinct to advance and protect your people

Have the courage to protect and develop the people who work for you. “Most companies still consider IT to be a necessary evil and a cost burden,” says Hadari. “When you sit in an organization where one measure of success is that nobody is yelling at you, you don’t always feel great about your work. That’s why it is so critical for IT leaders to advocate for their people and drive their advancement. Leaders who drive the advancement of others naturally gather great people around them.”

5. The ability to transform from data

Hadari encourages his team to use data, surveys, and conversations to understand the perceptions of IT, and the problems that create those perceptions. He finds that comparing how IT rates itself to how the business rates IT reveals a great deal about where IT needs to focus. “Collecting all of that information is not an easy process, but it is the beginning of change,” says Hadari. “It means that we can accept our challenges, bring them out into the open, and do something about them.”

At Biogen, Hadari’s extended leadership team, which is one level below his senior IT leadership team, owns the strategy and plan for IT improvement. “They build it, execute on it, and own it,” he says. “Once they have a plan, they can have constructive conversations with their business partners and hold their heads high.”

6. A willingness to grow

Coming full circle, Hadari looks for IT leaders who do not have a comfort zone bias. “If you are an expert in commercial IT, then commercial IT becomes your focus and holds you back from becoming a multi-disciplined IT leader,” he says. “The CIO’s comfort zone should be building and managing a high-performing IT organization.”

IT Leadership

While the benefits of Value Stream Management (VSM) are significant, many organizations are struggling to realize its full potential. 

To examine why, we’ve collaborated with the VSM Consortium on a new report, “The State of Value Stream Management 2022.” This report draws on an extensive survey to reveal where organizations are in their VSM journeys and some of the hurdles they face. According to the report, two-thirds of organizations have been actively engaged in earlier phases of the journey, but only one-third have made it to the latter stages of the process. What’s holding them back? In the sections below, I’ll take a look at a few of the top obstacles confronting teams today, and offer some strategies for overcoming these impediments.

Obstacle 1: Resource constraints

When asked about barriers to VSM adoption, “No resources for this” was the top-rated answer, receiving about 20% of responses. Teams making this comment were referring to skills, budget, and time.

Like any strategic initiative, VSM requires time and money to be invested. However, through these investments, teams can see near-term gains and establish the optimization that yields compounding benefits over time. 

Obstacle 2: Lack of focus

Eighteen percent of respondents said their VSM barrier was that “we have too many other active change programs.” This is understandable. VSM follows on the heels of other large-scale changes, particularly moves to adopt lean, agile, and DevOps.

The reality is that VSM shouldn’t be seen as additive, as yet another initiative that needs to be supported, detracting from these other priorities. Instead, VSM needs to be viewed as an enabler, an approach that fuels more effective alignment around strategic endeavors and attainment of better business outcomes. 

Obstacle 3: Lack of leadership

When asked about obstacles they were confronting, a significant percentage of respondents indicated that “We don’t have leadership buy-in” (15%) and “We don’t have anyone to lead the effort” (11%). This is a logical symptom of the lack of resources many teams are wrestling with.

The lack of executive buy-in leaves teams without the resources they need and that includes leaders who can help direct VSM efforts.

To combat these obstacles, leaders need to be engaged and educated about VSM and why it’s an imperative, including: opportunities, steps required, and payoffs. Only after this happens can leadership be brought to bear in terms of the investments and prioritization required.  

Obstacle 4: Tool proliferation

In the survey, 9% of respondents said tool proliferation is an obstacle to VSM adoption. Rather than being viewed as another tool that compounds these existing problems, VSM platforms can be the integral solution that enables teams to optimize the investments that have already been made. By effectively implementing VSM platforms, teams can create a common language and leverage trusted data to fuel cross-team visibility and insights.

That’s why there’s such momentum behind the move to adopt VSM platforms. The survey found that, between 2021 and 2022, the percentage of respondents piloting, implementing, or considering VSM platforms increased from 6% to 36%.

Conclusion

Although there are undoubtedly obstacles, the reality is that many teams are making major strides. For example, the survey found that 70% of respondents are now connecting flow metrics to business results, which is an integral part of building alignment between business and technology teams.

Visit ValueOps VSM to find out how you can begin to deliver more value to your customers and gain increased visibility and alignment in your organization. 

Digital Transformation