IBM empowers its sales managers with a flexible territory optimization tool

IBM Operational Decision Management software eases business policy implementation and management

Published on 11-Mar-2013

"The CIO Lab developed a creative solution using Operational Decision Management software to quickly build a proof of value, a critical component of TOP transformation project." - Ajay Satsangi, IBM Distinguished Engineer, Business Process Management Center of Excellence lead, IBM

Customer:
IBM

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Business Process Management (BPM)

Overview

A global computer products, services and solutions company based in the United States, IBM operates in more than 170 countries and has nearly 427,000 employees. With thousands of Business Partners and computer products suppliers worldwide, IBM generates more than USD99 billion in annual revenue. The company was founded in 1911 in Endicott, New York.

Business need:
The IBM® CIO Lab wanted to help IBM improve its existing Territory Optimization Program (TOP) tool, which helps sales managers within IBM create optimal territories and assign resources.

Solution:
The CIO Lab used IBM Operational Decision Management software to implement and manage business policies within the tool, independently of the underlying application logic.

Benefits:
The solution enables sales managers to make changes to business rules without relying on development resources.

Case Study

A global computer products, services and solutions company based in the United States, IBM operates in more than 170 countries and has nearly 427,000 employees. With thousands of Business Partners and computer products suppliers worldwide, IBM generates more than USD99 billion in annual revenue. The company was founded in 1911 in Endicott, New York.

Improving a valuable tool for sales managers

A proven way to increase seller productivity and drive revenue growth is to define territories based on guiding principles such as market opportunity, client segmentation, cross-company alignment and industry specialization. The Territory Optimization Program (TOP) is a tool to help sales managers within IBM create optimal territories and assign resources. Using an established set of guiding principles, the tool is designed to assist managers in defining optimal territories and assigning resources to better position IBM for growth. It is jointly supported by the IBM CIO Lab and IBM Global Business Services®.

The TOP tool enables sales managers to gain greater visibility into staff assignments for each client, analyze coverage for each opportunity and ensure that sales territories are balanced in terms of workload and market opportunity. Ultimately, the TOP tool enables managers to define territories based on opportunity and then assign territories to the most appropriate sellers.

The CIO Lab and Global Business Services teams wanted to make improvements to the TOP tool, which includes a scorecard that compares territories to the guidelines and principles defined for each business unit. The existing scorecard lacked flexibility because it contained certain hardcoded business rules, making the team dependent on development resources for any necessary changes. In addition, IBM Cognos® software could not easily report the scorecard results. Finally, the existing tool allowed only one scorecard per business unit. The CIO Lab and Global Business Services teams wanted to address these issues as well as improve the scorecard tool’s performance so that scorecard screens would load more quickly.

Implementing a business rules management system

The CIO Lab and Global Business Services groups used IBM Operational Decision Management software to implement and manage business policies. The teams chose the application because it offers a robust set of capabilities that enables the teams to:
● Implement and manage business policies efficiently within applications
● Manage business rules independently of the underlying application logic
● Empower business analysts and IT resources to author business rules collaboratively in a secure environment, simulate and test rule changes, and deploy the new rules to the execution environment
● Use audit and version control capabilities
● Maintain a business rules catalog to facilitate business rule reuse within a single system or across systems

Eliminating manual processes and improving data integrity

In the past, users managed configuration data for scorecard metrics with a user interface (UI) screen and a set of tables in an IBM DB2® data server. Users had to insert the guiding principles into the data server manually before they could make updates and finalize the business rule. Also, these changes sometimes required an update to hardcoded application logic, which meant that development resources had to be involved.

In the new version of the TOP tool, sales managers can use the Operational Decision Management application to manage scorecard configuration data, which is available to authorized users in a single location. The updated tool therefore enables sales managers to make changes to business rules without relying on development resources. The configuration data includes color logic rules, which give sales managers a visual aid on the scorecard guiding principles to assist them when designing optimal territories. These rules make it easier to balance sales territories in terms of workload and market opportunity, and because they are closely related to other configuration data, managing them in the Operational Decision Management repository facilitates data integrity.

Making scorecard data available for other applications

The new solution also enabled the two IBM teams to improve the way users calculate and store scorecard data. Before the Operational Decision Management implementation, the tool dynamically generated and then displayed scorecard data but did not store it for use by other applications, such as Cognos software. In the new version of the TOP tool, when an evaluation territory is ready for scorecard calculation, the tool completes the following steps. First, the UI component performs a set of base calculations and invokes the Operational Decision Management scorecard web service with the required input data. The web service performs the scorecard calculations and returns the results. The UI component then stores the scorecard results in a DB2 data server for subsequent use by other applications, such as the UI display and Cognos reporting software. If a user updates the evaluation territories using batch processes, the tool again invokes the scorecard calculations and stores the data for reuse. “The TOP project has a challenge to not only externalize business rules but to integrate with the database to show an up-to-date scorecard status to sales manager,” says Ajay Satsangi, IBM Distinguished Engineer, Business Process Management center of excellence lead, IBM. “The CIO Lab developed a creative solution using Operational Decision Management software to quickly build a proof of value, a critical component of TOP transformation project.”

Expanding support for Cognos reporting software

Because the previous version of the TOP tool did not store data for other applications to use, staff members developed reports with Cognos software by creating a custom scoring engine that ran calculations against territory data. The new version of the TOP tool, using the Operational Decision Management software, provides a scorecard results view in the DB2 data server that the Cognos software’s reports can access, eliminating the need for the custom scoring engine. The new version of the TOP tool can also export configuration data for use in the Cognos software’s reports.

For more information

To learn more about the IBM Business Rules Management System, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/software/websphere/products/business-rule-management

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
IBM Operational Decision Manager

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America February 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Cognos, DB2, and Global Business Services are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data and client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.