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I read this post from Hugh MacLeod just before the holidays - and it got me thinking about the role of extracting intelligence from ERP (or for that matter any transactional systems) and perhaps more critically from barely repeatable processes (BRP).

Here's some background from Hugh, Sigurd Rinde from Thingamy and James Governor on the concept of ERP and BRP.

1. The Easily Repeatable Process (ERP for me)

Processes that handles resources, from human (hiring, firing, payroll and more) to parts and products through supply chains, distribution and production. The IT systems go under catchy names like ERP, SCM, PLM, SRM, CRM and the biggest players are as we know SAP, Oracle and Microsoft plus a long roster of smaller firms. [...]

2. The Barely Repeatable Process (BRP)

Typically exceptions to the ERPs, anything that involves people in non-rigid flows through education, health, support, government, consulting or the daily unplanned issues that happens in every organisation. The activities that employees spend most of their time on every day. Processes that often starts with an e-mail or a call. A process volume, measured by time and resource spent at organisations, probably larger than for the Easily Repeatable Processes.

James Governor's take on things:
According to Sig, ERP actually stands for Easily Repeatable Process: "Processes that handle resources, from human (hiring, firing, payroll and more) to parts and products through supply chains, distribution and production. Known to be rigid, but handle events and transactions with precision and in volume. Systems deliver value through extensive reports and full control over resources. Resource oriented, transactional, event driven systems. Delivered by system vendors with roots in accounting using up to 25 year old technological solutions." But Sigurde is far more interested in the Barely Repeatable Process (BRP): "Typically exceptions to the ERPs, anything that involves people in non-rigid flows [like] the daily unplanned issues that happen in every organisation. The activities that employees spend most of their time on every day. Processes that often start with an e-mail or a call.

So if I think about how we begin to extract business intelligence from easily repeatable processes where typically only addressing a fraction of the information we need to make more intelligent decisions. Why? 

Because they’re tied to the ERP system, the data warehouse, and the different transactional systems that we have all over our organizations, and perhaps more importantly they don't really reflect how the vast majority of decision makers want to use this information.

Now how do we address the more informal operational decisions? They're more typically aligned to this idea of barely repeatable processes.

These are the business decisions (often made by people that have never heard of “BI”) that happen in almost every business interaction we have – and in isolation have a smaller business impact. However, in aggregate, multiple operational decisions will always provide much richer business insight.

An organisation that manages to capture ERP and BRP and use this to empower individuals to make better, faster and more relevant decisions has a distinct competitive advantage.