As the world’s largest marketer of kiwifruit – selling into 53 countries (with another 20 countries to come), and responsible for moving an incredible 131 million trays of premium-quality Zespri kiwifruit (around 30% of world volume) in the 2015/16 financial year – Zespri knows a thing or two about great process.

We caught up with Matthias Mueller, Business Process Management Facilitator at Zespri’s Mt Maunganui, New Zealand HQ. He was interviewed in 2015, and agreed to catch us up on Zespri’s process performance.

Where did we leave them in Zespri 1.0

When we first spoke to him, Mattias had outlined Zespri’s overall BPM (Business Process Management) goals – to take Zespri’s Supply Chain Management from Good to Great –

“Our BPM journey was set in motion by three factors. First, we wanted to capitalize on Zespri’s market position to deliver even better products, to even more satisfied customers – our brand is based on healthy, high quality and nutritious fruit – so this could absolutely not be compromised as we scaled and took the Zespri product to the world. Secondly, to support an overhaul of our global supply chain processes and systems. And finally, an organization-wide development project to enhance cohesion and collaboration, continuous improvement, and process-centricity throughout the whole company.”

Experience brings wisdom

When asked how long Zespri had been building up to their first BPM project, and what their initial experiences were, Matthias told us –

“We’d been discussing BPM internally for around 4.5 years before we took the plunge – I always say BPM is like being pregnant – either you are or you aren’t (doing BPM). There is no grey area.”

“For many years staffing levels were static at Zespri, and there was no real, clear process focus – because it hadn’t seemed necessary. When strategy changed and onboarding increased, we realized training and process execution were inconsistent, leading to some non-standard results – enter the concept of BPM.”

No journey is without its diversions –

“When we started, we initially chose BiZagi because it’s free. This proved to be a detour, as my team and I quickly realized that the tool was weak in the analysis phase of BPM – absolutely crucial to accruing benefits and value. They also did not have a way to customize and reuse elements, or save ‘pieces’ of processes we used over and over, meaning more time for each process. We also had over 500 processes, and without a database built into the tool, we had to handle them manually – not something we were willing to do. Eventually we decided we needed a tool with more power under the hood to achieve our goals. We needed software flexible enough that it would meet our BPM needs as we scaled our BPM culture and business.”

“We learned a lot about how we want to do BPM at Zespri from that experience, and what we value and need to support our own goals and success. Signavio came along at just the right time – once I signed up for a trial, I could see that despite its lightweight feel, it had all the sophisticated capabilities we required. Powerful BPM and usability in one!”

Zespri BPM today – Great and getting to Greater!

Today BPM is part of Zespri’s BAU (business as usual) – a core facilitator of their key organizational pillars of continuous improvement and innovation.

“For Zespri, BPM is not a project, we do it always in every project…BPM is a central approach for everything we do.”

“Real innovation comes from long-term investment in understanding and analyzing how an organization functions. Each company has its own approach, but not all benefits can be measured in dollar values – if you are just looking to save a quick buck, you won’t get the best solution. BPM creates opportunities for innovation by increasing transparency – helping identify opportunities for real, big innovation, as well as the small incremental changes associated with continuous improvement activities”

“That’s not to say we haven’t saved a lot of money through our BPM initiatives. Like any business function, we have to bring benefits to the table. Often these objectives were things that we simply could not have achieved without Signavio’s tools – without significant further time and money investment anyway. This overwhelmingly comes from the transparency we have been able to map and model with Signavio” –

“When you start with process management, you have your risk under control, all processes are scalable, you have a baseline because we not only model the processes, each process also has an index, which is the performance measure. Modeling the process is only one step in BPM – having the tools to effectively analyse and monitor them – that is crucial”.

“Another key area where Signavio has proven a strong partner for us is with process governance. Six months ago we began a process and data governance initiative to embed BPM and process-centricity even more deeply into how we work at Zespri.

Creating a Process-centric culture

When asked about how Zespri has created their process-centric culture, Matthias was quick to answer –

“Signavio has been an invaluable technology partner at Zespri. Zespri has configured the Collaboration Portal (process repository), so that each employee in the Zespri organization globally – that is 30 locations currently –  has access to all processes – we use it as our knowledge database. As an update to our story in 2015 – we no longer use SharePoint – Signavio is able to act as a complete knowledge repository for us, simplifying our information management burden immensely.”

“Being able to quickly and easily communicate the ways Zespri as an organization creates value and produces not only kiwifruit, but everything that we do – that is a huge advantage to us.”

“Process and BPM is now at the core of Zespri´s global management. BPM is not an initiative at Zespri – it is part of our DNA. BPM is embedded in every project – there is no project without a process map of how it will unfold, and no project closure without an optimized, completed process.”