Is Starbucks missing a trick?

I read with interest the latest news from Starbucks:

From Bloomberg: Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee chain, will stop continuously brewing decaffeinated coffee after noon as part of a drive to waste less and save $400 million by September.

The company, which last year started brewing fresh pots of coffee every 30 minutes, will have the caffeine-free version available upon request after 12 p.m., the Seattle-based company said today in an e-mailed statement. It takes about four minutes for a fresh cup to brew, spokeswoman Bridget Baker said.

“For many of our stores, the demand for decaf is greatly reduced in the afternoon,” the company said in the statement. “With our current standard of continually brewing decaf after 12 p.m. regardless of demand, we have seen a high amount of waste.”

So there you are. Apparently decaf coffee is not needed as much after lunch. Who would have thought that?

Actually looking at this from an efficiency point of view this is a very good move. They are not removing decaf totally, just reducing waste through not brewing and disposing of coffee that isn't being sold.

In today's economic hard times this makes a lot of sense. It reduces waste, decreases cost and doesn't reduce customer satisfaction. Although you do have to ask the question of why they don't brew to demand for everything? I visit Costa coffee and Cafe Nero (both far superior to Starbucks) and when I ask for decaf it get's brewed on the spot instantly - but then again so does the non-decaf stuff. In fact nothing is brewed on a cycle, it's all to order.

Does this mean that Starbucks are continually running 'freshly brewed' coffee (which could be as old as 30 minutes) throughout the day? Why are they doing this? What is the process point?

This obviously produces waste ($400 million in 9 months - WOW!) produces coffee which is old and stale and doesn't provide the same level of service as sites such as Costa and Cafe Nero. So why do they do it? Is it to get more people through the door quicker? Maye. But doesn't this cause an issue with the number of people that can physically be accommodated? A lot of people who are there will probably be sitting with a laptop availing themselves of the Wifi, so there is a theoretical maximum amount of people that can go through in a given length of time. Obviously take-out's will increase this number, but how many people come into Starbucks just for a 'coffee?' Don't they ask for a'double decaf vente grande skinny with whipped cream and 6 sugars'?

Without evidence to the contrary I think Starbucks have missed a big opportunity here. What do you think?

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project' is still available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you.

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Five Simple Questions, No Easy Answers - The process version

Once again I defer to Amber Naslund over at the Altitude branding blog for her excellent post entitled Five Simple Questions, No Easy Answers.

It prompted me to see if there are similar questions that could arise in the process world

1. If you could change something about the way process management is tackled as it is right now, what would that be? Why would that improve things?

2. Give me a definition of 'process management' for a newbie, and you can’t use the words “BPM”, “Software as a service”, "process" or “tool”.

3. I’m a successful company, and I’m not yet looking at managing my processes or defining a process management capability. Why should it matter to me if what I’m doing isn’t broken?

4. Tell me the real challenges I’ll encounter as a business when I’m starting managing my processes. Now tell me why I should bother overcoming those when I have enough issues to deal with already - especially in this current economic environment.

5. Take 'process management' out of the sandbox. Tell me how else it moves business forward, operationally, culturally, otherwise, and how I can justify the cost of doing this.

What other questions are bugging you? (I have one more)

6. If people keep talking about BPM as something that is tool based, does it mean that I can't do this without spending money on equipping my organisation with these tools?

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project' is still available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you.

Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

For more about me check out my "About Me' page

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford

Microsoft kills off it's business process management software PerformancePoint

An Article in has indicated that Microsoft is set to kill it's recently launched product Performancepoint. (The original article is from Computerworld)

In actual fact this is a little misleading because what they are actually doing is merging the BPM functions into SharePoint Server. I remember when this product was announced back in September 2007 thinking that this is probably a product that is in an area Microsoft doesn't want to really get involved with and it appears that this is now coming true.

PerformancePoint helps managers budget, forecast, and measure profits and efficiency. It competed with software from IBM, Infor, Oracle Corp., SAP AG and SAS Institute , as well as offerings from business intelligence (BI) and ERP vendors. The market for BPM software and services is expected to grow an average of 13% per year until 2012, to $3.24 billion, according to Forrester Research Inc so the fact that MSFT is cutting and running with this product is pretty significant. The general consensus is that MSFT does not tend to kill products like this (although it is recently ended development on it's world famous Flight Simulator program as a result of staff cuts) instead it usually works by releasing new, refined versions until the software gains market traction.

According to Business Intelligence product manager Kristina Kerr, Microsoft began reviewing the software's performance seven months ago. MSFT had hit a 'glass ceiling' according to Kerr. "We weren't playing to our strengths, and consequently were running into the same glass ceiling of 20% deployment that every other BI vendor is," Kerr told Computerworld. "We thought there was a much better way to achieve our goal of 'BI for the masses,' which is to make these features a seamless part of how they already work with SharePoint, SQL Server or Excel."

The overall move has allowed Microsoft to make the total cost of using PerformancePoint lower. Formerly, to get started with PerformancePoint Server cost $50,000 with a $195 license fee for every employee using PerformancePoint. By comparison, a license for Office SharePoint Server 2007 costs $4,424 , while enterprise licenses, which offer features in addition to PerformancePoint, will cost a total of $169 per employee

Personally I think that MSFT has hit more than a glass ceiling with this. I think they tried to get into a market they were very weak in. I don't think they purchased the skillset they needed and they relied on existing sales force and sales channels to push this product. Many people are now starting to work out that MSFT is not a 'jack-of-all-trades' that can muscle it's way into any market. It was late into the internet market and it was late into the BI market. There are other, better tools out ther that do what this tool does without being stuck in the 'bloatware' prgatory of the worlds largest computer company.

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Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project' is still available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you.

Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

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All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford

It's Not All About the Tech - People Are Part of the Process

By Andrea Cannavina

Careful consideration at the end user level should be given any process, technology or application upgrade. Beyond the cost of the servers, equipment, software, licenses, integration and downtime, is going through it all only to have very few adopt the upgrade or, just as bad, use the upgrade as little as possible.

Now, it's only human nature - everyone resists change (even you). This is why it is imperative that you consider your end users early in the selection of any technology. A few things to mull over include:

Use familiar tools where possible. Lots of things can be done with just a phone these days!

Try not to add another physical thing to be cared for, charged or carried around. Web based solutions such as unified messaging do not require anything other than an e-mail address or internet connection.

If you do add another piece of equipment, try to have it perform double duty. A Treo is the equivalent of a Blackberry™ + cell phone (+PDA; +mp3 player, etc.)

If you can improve upon a known process - all the better! Definitely upgrade rather than introduce new.

End user training is vital. Factor in the cost for one on one, group or on line training for each type of user.

Along with training, add end user manuals, reference materials and on line access to support for improved adoption.

Lack of training is often heard as the reason new technology fails. However, not all users are accomplished software manipulators nor even typists for that matter. If a software or technology requires all users to become so, it may not be your best option.

And a word of caution - don't just listen to some consultant say you have to make your workers do it "this way". The work your staff has been doing was in existence long before there was any technology to help or any consultants to make money off of their recommendations. Sure, there will be instances where you'll have to say it's "my way or the highway" - but those should be few and far between.

In fact, poll your users - those in the trenches - ask them what they like and don't like about the processes, technology, software and equipment they use each day to perform their functions. Also ask about the software and processes used at previous employers and if they liked it better (and why). You will be surprised at how much valuable information and insight you get.

From that information you and your consultant(s) can tweak the tech to the work (and if the tech can't be tweaked you know you need to keep looking). The way I see it, it's much better to have happy staff than a happy consultant any day!

In the end, tailor the upgrade to the end user and not the other way around for the best possible return on your technology dollar investment.


Andrea Cannavina is a Digital Assistant and Certified Master VA who teaches professionals (including lawyers) how to upgrade their business processes to digital in order to get more done with less - less time, less resources and less stress! In her brick and mortar life, Andrea spent close to two decades as a legal assistant working in various sized law firms in and around New York City. A legal Virtual Assistant since 2001, Andrea has helped lots of businesses and individuals get digital in all the right places.

To learn more visit Andrea's main site:


To learn more about keeping yourself, your equipment and your data secure, visit:

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Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project' is still available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you.

Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

For more about me check out my "About Me' page

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford

Some offers you may be interested in

(Disclaimer: The offers detailed here are affiliate links which will earn money for the Process Cafe although they are free to you.)

In an effort to try and add some quality information to the readers of The Process Cafe I have identified a number of free documents that you may wish to avail yourself of. These documents and brochures touch on aspects of business process and process management with topics such as "Quality management" and "Using software as a service".

I hope you find them of use.

From Spreadsheet Chaos to an Integrated BPM Application in Six Steps

Many companies are poised to make a commitment in the near term to Business Performance Management (BPM) which could include a focused investment in people, business process improvements, data re-architecture and technology.

This white paper focuses on how to approach and carry out the transition from spreadsheets to a commercially developed BPM solution. The foundation for success is a structured approach with requirements definition, technology selection, vendor selection and product acquisition, implementation, rollout, and continual adaptation.

To read this whitepaper, click here.

Published by: BPM Partners, Inc; Presented by: Infor

What Is ISO 9000 And Should I Care?

ISO 9000 consists of a series of Quality Management System standards that are designed to facilitate and enable consistency of a product or service and thereby ensure that customer requirements are met or exceeded. They can be applied in any manufacturing industry or service sector.

The value of certification to customers is evident, but the quality of the certificate is also important. All certificates are not equal.

As more and more companies become certified, buyers are looking at the reputation of the registrar. DNV's approach is one of a partnership. Our goal is to provide organizations with value-added services that result in a certification which is recognized and accepted by its customers and prospects.

Download this free brochure to learn more about ISO 9000.

How SaaS-Based Tools Provide a Superior End-User Service

Businesses of all sizes have to manage an increasing diversity of remote users and devices. The task ranges from simply keeping systems running to ensuring security, compliance and the achievement of environmental goals. Under this sort of pressure, IT managers and managed service providers, to which the task is often outsourced, must have flexible access to powerful tools and an ability to share the data those tools rely on.

This briefing has been written by Quocirca to address issues faced by organizations that have to manage an increasingly dispersed IT infrastructure.

Click here to download and read the White Paper
Published by Quocirca; Sponsored by NTRglobal.

(Disclaimer: The offers detailed here are affiliate links which will earn money for the Process Cafe although they are free to you.)

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project' is still available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you.

Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

For more about me check out my "About Me' page

All information is Copyright (C) G Comerford

When Change is No Longer a Dirty Little Word

By Terry Schurter

Change. What a powerful word. For most people it elicits an immediately reaction. It has meaning... but what meaning does it have for you?

The study of human nature tells us that when things are suddenly different our primordial response is one of fear or at least caution. When we believe that something is happening that will cause things to no longer be the same our basic instinct is to pull back into a defensive response of fight or flight - because if things are not the same then whatever is different could pose a threat to us!

But there are also learned responses or behaviors that can take place as well. Some change we welcome, like new versions of our favorite products. This isn't always true of course, but certainly products that have a high rate of advancement often elicit anticipation. What will the newest gadget or game system look like? What will I be able to do tomorrow that I can't do today?

When we see something that is different as new and exciting then our desire for that newness can also become addictive. Once our response is registered as exciting versus threatening we are drawn to newness. Job, partner and location are examples that can actually become addictive.

Why does our response to things being different sometimes become addictive instead of eliciting a flight or fear response? That's where things get really interesting. Again, back to good old human nature. While we (people) nominally seek stability in our lives that stability can lead to boredom. What really wakes us up and brings us to life? When something HAPPENS. Something different. Something that is NOT part of stability.

Human Response is Contradictory

Human nature in respect to change is actually contradictory. While we often outwardly seek stability, we internally thirst for difference. It's our nature. That's just the way it is.

The best place for us to be is where we have a balance of stability and newness. That's a big part of the approach to process improvement I have founded and one of the foundational concepts responsible for its phenomenal success. One of the goals we should strive for is to find ways to operate safely within the balance of stability and change. It helps us to make our observations from a unique perspective while granting us the permission to challenge those things we instinctively know are not the right thing for us to be doing.

A resulting dynamic from this is the key to the future of greater success in adaptation. What we are finding is that as we move into a state of personal and organizational balance, the organizations we work for are becoming more agile with change being a natural behavior (rather than an imposed directive) without the need to challenge the stability of the organization. We don't need to re-engineer wholesale - instead we become engaged in an ongoing process of continuous improvement that actually enhances stability by clearly aligning these activities with a common process goal.

"Balance" Fosters Growth while Maintaining Stability

This balance is in itself something new for us. It's the first time we've had a place to go for help in striking the balance that is right for us, the context of our organization, and the external forces (market, economy, etc.) that are the loci of the pressure we all feel. As these factors exert varying influence on us, our activities adapt as well keeping us in balance regardless of how things are different.

So perhaps we should start thinking about how our personal balance ends up being the gyroscope of the business - the thing that keeps the organization whole and successful while all of these external forces whirl and swirl around us. That description is probably a lot more accurate than you think.

Customer alignment, advanced improvement, rapid but balanced change, retention of focus throughout, new observations that help us immediately do the right things for the right reasons. These are some of the benefits awaiting us.

About the Author

Terry Schurter is an internationally recognized Thought Leader, Director of the nonprofit International Process and Performance Institute, Author and highly sought-after speaker. To learn more on Terry's perspectives or contact Terry please visit: the International Process and Performance Institute, or his personal website,

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The Forrester WaveTM: Business Process Analysis, EA Tools, And IT Planning, Q1 2009

Forrester have recently released their The Forrester WaveTM: Business Process Analysis, EA Tools, And IT Planning report for Q1 2009 and it makes fairly mundane reading.

The company invites the top 10 market providers of BPA, EA and IT planning tools to participate providing they meet three criteria:
  • The product must provide broad metamodel capabilities and support several EA frameworks to be recognized by enterprise architects as a potential tool.
  • The vendor has either revenues of at least $20 million or a fast-growing revenue stream.
  • The product version has been released and is generally available prior to August 1, 2008.

The ten companies detailed in the Q1 report are alfabet, Casewise, IBM, IDS Scheer, iGrafx, MEGA,
Metastorm, Sybase, Telelogic, and Troux Technologies (although IBM declined to participate in further research with its WS Process Modeler due to a repositioning of the product following IBM’s purchase of Telelogic).

Surprise, surprise the top players in this area are Casewise, IDS Scheer, MEGA, Metastorm, and Troux for general EA, Casewise, IDS Scheer, and Metastorm are Leaders for BPA usage and alfabet and Troux are clear Leaders for the IT-planning-specific requirements. The only real surprise in any of those is the improvement of Troux Technologies which has done impressive work on its product and strategy after a period lacking in direction following its acquisition of the Metis business from Computas.

So what does this mean or you?
The report itself does pick up one point (in the small print at the end) where it says "Most enterprise architects are still using criteria such as price, ease of use, or metamodel customization to
differentiate enterprise architecture (EA) tools. While these criteria are useful, they are not the ones that
will help you show the real value of EA tools for your enterprise.
" This basically means that those tools that are the best at doing their job are not, necessarily, the ones that are the most popular or best sellers. It also doesn't take into account any other sort of Enterprise Architecture tool such as EVA NetModeller which wouldn't meet the three criteria listed above for inclusion on this report, but is still a market leader in the EA space.

Choose your tools well!

For a copy of the report, click here.

Business process in health care - How surgery became a business process.

If I say 'Business process in health care" I would presume a lot of you would think I was referring to its application within Health Insurance. Right?

But what if I told you an organisation in the US is looking seriously at implementing business process management.. for surgery. That's right, they are looking at how following fixed surgical checklist procedures can eliminate or at least decrease complications and increase recovery rates. This will have a corresponding positive effect on health care payments and therefore reduce premiums.

Geisinger Health Systems in Pennsylvania runs 3 hospitals with a fixed (i.e fairly predictable and constant) patient base. This made it possible to look at this sort of process.

The premise was very simple: Statistically it is known that different surgeons perform different operations in different ways. If operations could be standardised this would remove variations and herefore eliminate unknowns as a result of this.

The hospital chose coronary-artery bypass graft (CABG, pronounced cabbage) surgery as a test-bed. It appears that there are 40 different steps that need to be aken to make this a succesful operation and in 55% of cases the New England Medical Journal found that all necessary steps were not being taken in surgeries. Putting these two figures together the cardiothorasic surgeons at Geisinger formulated a list (process) of steps that needed to always be performed. Surgeons were bonused on their ability to stick with the list (unless they could identify and document why a step was not necessary in a particular case) As a result costs are down 5% and - more importantly - there has been a 45% decrease in re-admission rates and a 60% decrease in neurologic complications. Both of these figures has resulted in lower costs for the insurer.

What's important to note here is the approach that was taken. It is key to ensure all busines process work follows the same typical path.

  • The initiative was started by the key upper management - in this case the Geisinger CEO Glenn Steele. Thus there was good upper management buy-in
  • The process was defined by people who knew what they were doing. They didn't produce some arbitrary figure of 40 steps, they had their cardiothorasic surgeons analyse and define what the steps were - thus they had acceptance from the users
  • They had an incentive: Bonuses were based on following the process.
  • They had an exception process: Providing things are appropriately known and documented the surgeons had the option of ommitting a step from the process (In this case surgeons opted to skip a step in only three cases out of 181)
  • They measured the process. One of the surgeons involved in the process ended up having the cabbage surgey himself. The surgeon says the case opened his eyes to how complex a routine operation really is: "Two weeks after, the head of our IT group called
    me and said, 'Al, I just looked through [Steele's] chart, and I want to
    send you a list of everybody that accessed the medical record from the
    time he was seen in the clinic to two weeks post-op.' There were 113
    people listed -- and every one had an appropriate reason to be in that
    chart. It shocked all of us. We all knew this was a team sport, but to
    recognize it was that big a team, every one of whom is empowered to
    screw it up -- that makes me toss and turn in my sleep.
    " This is true measurement
As you work through your day-to-day business, are there any sections of your work which, traditionally, wouldn't have come under a BP pervue? Do you now think that this might be something you could look at? After all if open-heart surgery can be improved with business process management, surely something a little less life threatening can....

For more information and detail behind this read the Fast Company article Geisinger Health System's Plan to Fix America's Health Care