3Com—A Real World BPM Success Story

Time is everything in the business world today. Customers want information and product faster than ever, and with the global nature of business, they often require around-the-clock service. 3Com, a leading provider of voice and data networking products, services and solutions for enterprises, is no exception. The company has a globally diverse staff with locations worldwide and many of its business processes, such as placing orders, have been moved to web-based applications in recent years to accommodate the 24×7 nature of 3Com’s business.
But that didn’t necessarily mean that everything worked smoothly. In fact, 3Com was finding that one of its critical processes, obtaining a special price quote (SPQ), was taking upwards of four days to complete using its existing
custom-build Lotus Notes application. For a sales staff trying to close deals,
and to customer that wanted to do deals in real-time, this time frame was
clearly unacceptable. Since all special price quotes require rigorous and timely
approval, 3Com needed to develop an integrated process for handling special
price quotes (SPQs) that would expedite the process and enable the company to meet its customers’ needs in a timely manner. As a result, 3Com turned to a
business process management (BPM) solution that would provide the workflow and application integration necessary to automate parts of the SPQ process, and offer real-time access to back-office inventory systems.
The company chose Savvion’s BusinessManager to handle the end-to-end process, and after six months was able to get the new SPQ process up and running. The resulting system connected a Siebel sales force automation application through to a back-end SAP system, providing the company with an end-to-end process that saved time and reduced human errors. As a result of the BPM project at 3Com, the standard time for processing a SPQ request was significantly reduced from up to four days to as fast as several hours. This dramatically reduced lag time and made 3Com more competitive in the market. In addition, the end-to-end nature of the process, which integrated several back-office systems, reduced time previously spent manually entering information. 3Com uses the tool today to process all special price orders-in fact, orders are often put through the same day the request is received.
The Upside Uptake
Much of the talk about BPM of late has led to a typical hype surrounding this
emerging technology. Many companies think they are doing BPM, but are often only doing a part of BPM, such as application integration or multi-step workflow.
3Com, however, has done it all with its SPQ project. The company is one of the
early adopters of true BPM technology that blends business-level processes with workflow, end-to-end processing, and application integrations. In 2002, 3Com broke ground in the emerging BPM space with its end-to-end SPQ process powered by Savvion. Working with a global business environment was challenging and rewarding for 3Com, and the company’s experiences, best practices, and lessons learned can be used by other companies that are considering BPM projects.
The tangible business benefits of significantly reducing the time to process a
SPQ will impact the bottom line at 3Com as more orders are completed and
approved. Upside Research sees 3Com’s experience with Savvion and its SPQ system as an exemplary best practice for understanding how best to execute a business process by adding automation, workflow, and application integration. When the IT department receives feedback around the world, in foreign languages, that the application is a success, it knows that it has done something right.