When you think of harmony, you’re more likely to think of a group of people singing in perfect key together than a global organization working in total agreement. Just like in singing, not all people are singing the same notes, but the notes that they do sing are in perfect alignment and compatibility with the others. That’s what global harmonization is – alignment of business processes and data for global standardization and enforcement. It’s not performing identically, but in a way that complements performances of others.
The Benefits of Global Harmonization are many, including:
- Global consistency
- Business process improvement
- More operational control
- Leverage best-practices for success
- Enterprise visibility
- IT cost-savings
Harmonization avoids a one-size-fits-all approach. It creates a balance between too many and too few process standards and avoids inconsistencies between standards. Like a well-orchestrated performance, this doesn’t happen by accident, but rather by commitment. First of all, senior management must have buy-in and governance. The process standardization and harmonization must be explicitly stated as objectives. Without buy-in from management, it’s impossible to execute dramatic cultural change.
There must be clear rules for standardization and harmonization. The criteria for such should include when process variants should NOT be standardized. You will need to understand what should be standard and what should be allowed for variance or local adaptation. You must also take into account the global needs and strategy of company as well as its local requirements and resources.
There should also be a rule for selecting the best standard based on process performance and process cost. Your standardization and harmonization efforts need to be well organized and clearly defined, developing the roles and responsibilities for the team. Investing in training and developing a “train the trainer” program helps expand knowledge, reduce resistance, and produce skill and capacity for long-term improvements.
Set measurable goals and establish key performance indicators. Focus on eliminating waste and showing impact within and beyond the boundaries of the enterprise. As for change management, dig into the root problems of both people and processes to re-engineer the business before relying on technology to enhance the value. Doing so, you’ll achieve more successful implementations and better overall results.
How to get started: Involve right individuals in the “planning stages” to get the right input. Create teams for oversight, implementation, execution and trial/testing. These teams should be a combination of local process owners, management, end-user representatives and IT. Although teams are a good idea, someone needs to make final decisions and therefore, you need to assign the “lead” decision maker for consensus to be achieved.
Set up communication plan for knowledge and new idea sharing. By doing so, people will be more willing to participate if they know they are being heard. Recognize the differences between different business processes that are likely to exist across lines of business, sites, and even within a site. Remember, we’re not dealing with all tenors or sopranos in this harmonization effort! Not all processes have to be identical.
Take into account the environment, culture and terminology. Where are the plant sites, outsourcing, and partners? What are the specific equipment needs for facilities and product lines? What are the specific needs for product manufacturing that may require some variances? What are the language and culture differences, from language and date/time formats for each locale, user interface language for easier user adoption, and terminology use across the organization.
Don’t try to change the world overnight. Start small. Select one or two key processes to map and harmonize first. Develop models that offer space for local adaptation, and then perform trials. Users at successful pilot sites will help the rest of the end-user community adopt the new processes. Explain the reason for change throughout the process. Help users recognize how new processes/requirements may be required to support and align to future state business process.
Finally, make sure everybody understands the key requirements and aligns with final business processes. Without consensus on the process and key requirements, a second major project will more than likely be needed to correct deficiencies in the first release.
A global harmonization implementation plan is never easy. It stretches a company and its employees professionally, personally, and at all levels. However, the resulting performance can bring beautiful music to the organization!