November 4, 2010
>About a year ago I agreed to be on a panel by DM Radio about "BAM: Business Activity Monitoring". In all honesty, I completely forgot that I'd agreed to be on the show until the host reminded me earlier this week.
I was struck by the thought, "What the heck is BAM and why does anybody care?". I read the description about 4 times and realized what "BAM" was enterprise consultant/research-group speak. Some group had hoodwinked the enterprise IT world into adopting a new acronym. (Note, it was disclosed to me before the show that it was in fact Gartner Group that had pioneered the word. I didn't validate that before I reposted it as it seemed too funny and true to actually be false. I'll happily correct this if somebody has a better origin).
I kicked around an e-mail internally asking the team what "BAM" meant to them. Was I thinking about this correctly if I just broke it down to the real-world/Shipwire features? I included: Dashboards; instant drill-down into analytic and transaction information; alerts; and, real-time reports. The team thought that rules-based automation and Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) should also make the cut.
The panel was today (listen to it here) and it was actually pretty interesting. (Yes, I was surprised). On the panel, I figured out that – Shipwire is really good at BAM! And we do a ton of BAM! That being said, we will never mention the acronym BAM outside of this blog post, I swear!
The call in fact completely focused on the 4-6 topics in bold above. Interestingly, the panelists on the call highlighted supply chain and e-commerce examples as key industries that have really invested in activity monitoring.
Shipwire could speak volumes on this call even though I kept thinking of Chef Emeril – "BAM, lets kick it up a notch". Maybe it was just because it was planned over my lunch. Shipwire is built on the core tenants that the acronym embodies. Shipwire is a web-based software platform that works with other e-commerce, shipping and supply chain systems. For example, we don't own trucks! When we ship packages we hand them off to carriers like UPS and FedEx (12 carriers + freight globally); but, we take responsibility for reporting their progress to our customers. We do that through "BAM" (LOL, it seems so funny to say it that way).
Here is what I learned about BAM so that we can bury this dumb acronym and get back to speaking English.
- Business Activity Monitoring ("BAM") is throw-away analyst jargon for using systems to pay attention to and provide reporting of your internal service level commitments and your external supplier service level commitments.
- Service Level Transparency – Expect transactions to happen along service level time lines. Make sure your systems provide transparency to your delivery along these timelines to your internal and external customers.
- Don't trust your partners! – Well, trust them to do their jobs; but, monitor them and build alerts and systems to report when they don't do their jobs in a timely fashion. Monitor your partners along key performance indicators.
- Don't make people hunt for this data. Bring it to their attention using Dashboards and reports.
- Build Alerts into your business processes. Alerts can be when something goes according to plan and the customers shouldn't be concerned, e.g. an e-mail that says a package shipped. Alerts can also tell the required person when something is not going as expected, e.g. an order alert when the order is past due.
- Set up default rules that are reasonable; but, give users the ability to edit the rules to match their business needs.
- If you outsource a core business practice, the outsourced service needs to be monitored and the business flow needs to be integrated into your overall corporate business flow. Natch!
Supply chain was a focus for the panel because a supply chain by nature has more than one participant. Supply chains evolved because vendors, suppliers, buyers, sellers and end-consumers all need to move goods around the world and get them into the right hands at the right time. We're dealing with physical goods and not just electronic data, so there is A LOT of ways that things can get delayed or the supply chain can break. By nature, there has to be a lot of activity monitoring across the entire supply chain to deliver the goods. This is especially true, because most of the supply chain participants only own a small part of the overall supply chain; but, we're responsible for not being the link that breaks.
I heard other panelists talking about monitoring inbound supplier shipments, outbound B2B and consumer shipments and I couldn't help smiling and thinking that Shipwire does most of this really well. Take for example an inbound supplier shipment to one of our warehouses or a location that a user has defined within our order management product. We know what products are in the shipment and when it is going to arrive and can track it to our/your front-door. If it doesn't arrive, we can alert it. When it does arrive we give our customers service level transparency on where that inventory is in the receiving process and when it will be available for outbound shipment. We do the same, for outbound shipments as we receive orders. I'm not going to say we don't have lots of room for improvement; but, "BAM, we rock."
Don't believe me? Get a free trial and test us out! Try to do that with one of the $1M systems that the other panelists were talking about.
Lets kill the "BAM" acronym…Emeril already owns it and his version taste better!