Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)



Scott Palmer, International Consortia Founder, Business Standards Curator, Top Business Transformation Entrepreneur

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Scott Palmer.

Scott PalmerScott Palmer is Founder of Standards for your Enterprise (S4E), a consortium for academics, business operations and IT professionals chartered to gather and share unbiased information about business class standards.

He has been involved in business process standards development since 1998 where he was Associate Director of the Supply Chain Council. While there, he contributed to the success of the globally recognized Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model standard; SCC grew to nearly 1000 corporate members who participated in SCC programs worldwide to learn how to use and support SCOR and to improve the standard through technical development.

Scott spent most of this past decade working with companies seeking to adopt the Value Chain Group's (VCG) Business Process Transformation Framework (BPTF), and its Value Reference Model (VRM) where he is also participating in standards activities organized by other associations. His private sector partnerships involve business transformation methodologies and process data repository tools.

He is an ardent supporter of business standards development and cross enterprise use of them to improve business.

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Manager's Blog where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Q: Scott, your outstanding contributions in innovation and executive leadership have significant global impact. Thank you for sharing your considerable expertise, deep accumulated insights, and wisdom with our audience.

A:  "You are welcome Stephen. Thank you for inviting me."

Q: Can you share the value of Standards for your Enterprise (S4E) for each professional segment/domain?

A:  "The overall value of S4E is it identifies business standards and provides information about them in a consistent, unbiased manner. This helps key business decision makers because they can quickly gain an understanding of a given standard: cost to access and use, significance for company, strategic purpose. Business Architects, Analysts and Business Process Managers find value in the use case files, survey data and links to other resources associated with a particular standard. Enterprise Architects, Information Technologists and Systems Analysts all find meaningful information on protocols, security and data from the organizations that have developed excellent standards in these areas. We also provide an excellent resource for university professors and their students."

Q: What top 5 resources and lessons can you share with the audience?

  1. "GuideStar is an excellent resource to glean financial information about not for profit organizations. I find it to be very worthwhile to dig around there.
  2. Depending on the organization, the standard developer, or sponsoring authority, sites can be mostly open, very informative and easy to navigate. The European Commission's e-Competence Framework site is a good example.
  3. The ANSI sponsored site StandardsBoostBusiness is a real find. If you need to justify the spend on access, learning how to use and implementing a standard, go there.
  4. The 'open' standards provide real and immediate information. APQC's Process Classification Framework is a renowned process guide; one that can quickly help with processes and benchmarking.
  5. Not to be left out is the Object Management Group (OMG) which has produced and continues to develop modeling standards and meta-models. Just going to one of OMG's quarterly Technical Meetings to participate in their standard development process is amazing."
Q: What are your top 10 tips in business process?

  1. "Make sure of executive level support for your BPM program.
  2. Align program goals with strategic objectives.
  3. Establish a fluid and effective Program Management Office.
  4. Populate your PMO with the best internal candidates you have available.
  5. Ensure your external (consulting) assets are on board, but not driving the agenda.
  6. Bring in Subject Matter Experts as needed.
  7. Do your best to have a top down approach to process designs down to the needed level of granularity.
  8. Align processes with capabilities.
  9. Use process reference models instead of having to create your own.
  10. Find and use the best available enablement tools."
Q: What is the value of and adoption tips for the Business Process Transformation Framework (BPTF) and its Value Reference Model (VRM)?

A:  "Business Transformation is hard. Our BPTF developed over many years through practical hands-on experience and became a proven practice to enable successful projects. In my opinion, the best adoption practice is a crawl, walk, run approach. Starting at a full run will simply overwhelm everyone involved. The VRM is a great process reference tool for BPTF. The concepts behind VRM are out of systems engineering – closed loop. With VRM, you can model processes at a very high level very quickly, then drill down where needed to resolve particular pain points. Very effective."

Q: Please share some added recommendations in business transformation methodologies and process data repository tools?

A:  "Successful transformation (goals met within budget) is never easy and is stressful on many levels. The key to achieving positive results will be assembling and enabling the right internal team then adding external support then adhering to as many 'best practices' as is practicable.

There are a slew of consultancies: big, medium and small carving niches in the business transformation space. Vet at many as possible and try to think outside the (big) box so that you choose method that suits your company’s needs.

As for process data repository tools? It appears most companies have several workable tools available within their existing IT portfolio. What is missing is the discipline and governance to systematically identify and collect process data into one place. The easiest approach is to find the most common denominator tool that the different business units are most comfortable with and start there. Of course, I urge use of standards (HADOOP, XPDL, BPMN) based tools! Maturity will happen and new and better tools will become available as always."

Q: Make 5 predictions for the future?

  1. "Business Architecture is evolving (standardizing) and will become an important practice and/or meta-model for the enterprise.
  2. Cyber security will improve with the help of protocols and standardization; therefore infrastructures, systems and data will become much more secure from malicious attack.
  3. Technical advances in harnessing data will rapidly improve how businesses respond to the voice of the customer.
  4. Through improved approaches to Governance, businesses will corral IT (and consequently consulting), over-spending through better alignment of internal people with processes and technology.
  5. Crowdsourcing will facilitate the development of new and worthwhile business standards and the improvement of existing ones; standards creation and implementation will truly become of the people for the people."
Q: How can executives act on your predictions?

A:  "Take time to learn what the leading edge practices are (i.e. Business Architecture). Determine what standards are available for the enterprise and devote resources to learning about them, using them and helping to improve them. Seek continuous improvement. Listen."

Q: As a successful senior technology executive, what are your best leadership lessons that can be used by executives?

A:  "Enable your company; have trust in the abilities and skills of those who work for you. Embrace innovation; keep an open mind to new approaches and emerging technologies."

Q: Do you feel computing should be a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials? [See and the Global Industry Council,  quality assurance and recognized credentials? [See]

A:  "Yes. I fully support what IFIP/IP3 is promoting around the globe. Whereas accounting (finances), medicine (health well-being) and law (rights & protection) are well-established professions, so too should computing. If you think about the fact computing really affects almost every aspect of modern life, why shouldn't there be established professional criteria for computing? It is time that a globally created set of criteria be collaboratively developed for the IT profession to follow."

Q: You have many interests. Can you talk further about them?

A:  "I am fortunate to have lived in these very interesting times. And to have been in the standards development business from the beginning of local dial up access to high speed video conferencing across the globe for free. I am a huge reader and enjoy following the breadcrumbs of emerging trends. Where I live there are acres of public land containing miles of wooded trails that I walk with my dogs over 10 miles per week. Last evening, the weather was well below zero and perfectly clear (rare here). As the sun set, the planets Jupiter in the west, then Venus and Mercury in the east emerged. On one quiet trail, we bumped a Barred Owl that silently flew into the night. Life is good."

Q: From your extensive speaking, travels, and work, please share up to three stories (amusing, surprising, unexpected, amazing).

A:  "At one of the first Supply Chain conferences held in San Francisco it was amazing to witness the buzz of people going from hospitality suite to hospitality suite to learn more from the technology providers and consultancies. Knowing that we were on to something that would really change things was fantastic.

At a Supply Chain meeting in Sydney, Australia I stayed at the elegant Grace Hotel. There was a meeting one day in Crow’s Nest so I took a cab. While in the Harbour Tunnel, the taxi broke down. We were stuck there and my driver said it would be some time before we got rescued. At one point, I looked behind us and saw another cab that got stuck in our lane. I hopped out of the stranded cab and hailed the other one. The cabbie from down under was astounded by this action from down under the harbor.

At my first Latin American Chapter meeting in Mexico City, I met the newly formed chapter of executives representing various major regional corporations from Kellogg’s to Coca-Cola. We began our rather formal meetings at about 9 am and continued to early afternoon when we broke for lunch. It was decided that we dine at a nearby Japanese steakhouse (talk about cross culture!). Well, no sooner had we sat down than the Chapter Chair ordered a round of tequila Sangritas. The lunch proved to be a major icebreaker for all of us and to this day, I consider several of those fine gentlemen to be good friends. And yes, we did go back to work."

Q: You choose the topic area. What do you see as the three top challenges facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?

A:  "Aligning the business with its technology in order to reduce cost and improve the value of IT assets will require a deep and thorough understanding of both the business and enterprise architectures; the challenge is to find a balance between growth and innovation and capturing and nurturing the key underpinnings of the business. Governing the complexity of a business within the global marketplace will require strong leadership and vision; putting dedicated people in place and enabling them to execute programs to meet strategic objectives must be accomplished. Ensuring the security of the company's data from destruction or theft will necessitate an ever-vigilant team of highly trained professional technologists who will be responsible for protecting the entire enterprise architecture."

Q: If you were conducting this interview, what 3 questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?

A:   "Question 1: Do you recommend accessing and enabling use of business standards?
Answer: There is ample proof that using known standards can reduce costs and provide value to the business. No matter what the industry or profession, there is at least one association dedicated to improving practices (certification practices) or developing standards for it.

Question 2: What is the most difficult business situation you have ever experienced?
Answer: I have experienced quite a few tough business predicaments. Most are due to poor response to market conditions, or lack of the means to fix pain points. But ultimately, all business problems can be fixed one way or another. However, the most difficult situation I have experienced involves a company leader displaying poor ethics. My advice, if you find yourself working for someone who covets any one of the seven sins, immediately find a new employer.

Question 3: What is your favorite business quote?
Answer: Actually, two come to mind: "Whether you think you can, or think you can't – you're right." – Henry Ford and "I want to put a ding in the universe." – Steve Jobs"

Q: Scott, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your substantial wisdom with our audience.

A:  "Stephen, my pleasure. Thank you for the interview."