I interviewed Alok Ahuja who discussed Developing Capability-Based Frameworks in the Supply Chain and How that Relates to the Architecture and a Modern Supply Chain.

You cannot make an investment in isolation. Unfortunately in medium and large-sized enterprises you make investment decisions based on relative data or when a threat or calamity happens. This is a reactive approach. Alok discusses a more effective and proactive approach.




Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?


Thank you, Dustin. It’s a pleasure to be here again. My background, Dustin, I work at Matters Consuling, primarily a consulting company working with companies like Microsoft, SAP, T-Mobile, Costco, helping them look through their business processes, business applications, and strategically think through to help enable long-term potential in their current investments they already have and then make them future-ready. Longshoring, looking from strategy to realization, to implementation of the system; essentially focus on supply chain management, essentially focus on ERP, and new age technology.


What do you mean when you talk about a capability-based framework?


Dustin, in a large enterprise. Let’s say Wal-Mart or Costco or Microsoft, their are a large number of diverse applications, a variety of business processes. Multiple projects which are supporting business IT management or other business offices with that application. If you ask anybody within an organization how this project is going to impact optimization as a whole, people can rank and tell the value proposition of a project in isolation, but the ramification of a project strikes because multiple parts of an organization, multiple processes, multiple interfaces, and to get that holistic 360 view of what processes, what applications, what projects are in need for a particular process or are needed for a particular capability is extremely hard. As I said, you can give a great value proposition of, “Here, here’s an RFID and it can enable your supply chain visibility great for the proposition.”


When I make an implementation decision, how is that going to impact different parts of the process? How is that going to impact? What functionality? When it’s divided, how is that going to impact what particular parts or processes, what organizations are going to be impacted by that process? What applications are going to be impacted by that new project you’re implementing? What am I going to retire? What am I going to add? What interfaces are going to be implemented?


It’s always a big challenge to understand and get a holistic view. We end up implementing projects which are isolated, we end up implementing projects in realizing there are other impacts as well and then spawn more projects out of it. There are a lot of initiatives that do not really get fulfilled.


What we do is we get a holistic view of what an enterprise wide business application looks like. It’s important to make your investments strategically. How it functions, how a business process enables those capabilities. How are current projects enabling those capabilities. What is going to happen when the processes are implemented. What’s going to happen to them? What capabilities do we need to invest in for optimization to be competitive?

If I am, let’s say Costco, I provide certain functions. If I need to add more, what am I doing? What projects do I have in place? What processes are we getting backed in by them? If I have capability that I’m supporting, how are the capabilities going to be affected? That’s where I find that the framing up of capabilities, the framework, to provide the holistic view is useful. Why are you needing this investment?


How can it be applied?


We ask ourselves what our current capabilities are. Establish our capability structure, then I can define how those capabilities are going to support it, find out what applications we have and how they are impacting the capabilities. How are we supporting either an application or optimization with those capabilities?


We also highlight the priority of those capabilities so we can reap the benefits and maintain the right to the projects to help you manage both of your projects effectively. Now that you’ve decided that there’s a project we can do and there’s a return on investment. When you look this project what will the impacts of this particular project be? 


One of the impacts of these projects might be on the systems and applications, one of the interfaces. It really needs a buildup of all the business processes and in relationships across both entities. So, how are projects impacting capabilities? How are capabilities impacting processes? What interfaces are being impacted? What is the stability of the whole equipment and storage, which a number of methodologies are being used that enable certain technology or enterprise frameworks. I’m using one of the tools provided. I do not want to name the tools, but there are a whole variety of tools, software vendors, etc. which can provide such kind of framework.


Why is this important?


It is extremely important. The large enterprise is extremely important. Without having a cohesive, comprehensive view of your enterprise, without having a comprehensive view of your capabilities, it’s impossible to say why they may, in my opinion, optimization, and what other optimization is possible of those decisions? 


Ultimately, if you do not have a tool, you do not have a framework established, it becomes a random investment. It becomes imperative that we invest in the capability-based framework. So we have a good visibility, it should be all tied to the goals and objectives. As an organization, what are your goals? What are your objectives? What are your strategies? How are those strategies linked to your capability? What are they missing in the project? How is it tied to your strategy? You could impact a good view of…say, what investments am I making in a particular capability? What investments am I making to achieve a particular goal, now that my goal is linked to the project and capabilities?


You cannot make an investment in isolation. Unfortunately in medium and large-sized enterprises you make investment decisions based on relative data or when a threat or calamity happens. This is a reactive approach.


A proactive approach strategic approach requires you establish a framework and you make sound, right, effective and lasting decisions where you actually get the value from the investments you are making. Without this framework most organizations are making sub-optimal decisions.




About Alok Ahuja


Alok Ahuja


Technology and Business Leader


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