Process Resource Sensitivity Maps

I read two articles recently that got me thinking about the resources that a process needs to function.  One focused on water and tried to predict where water would remain plentiful, and where is was going to be increasingly problematic in the near future.  If you had a process that depending on lots of water, for example, you probably wouldn't want to locate your organization is Australia or California, for example.  Both have experienced serious droughts and are likely to experience more in the decades ahead.

The other article focused on underseas fiber optic cables that facilitate rapid and large transfers of electronic data.  Obviously one can go online anywhere these days, but some locations, like New York and London, Dubai and Shanghai are much better than others, especially if one wants to track or anticipate some specific markets (e.g. sources of data).

Obviously there are other factors.  For decades, energy intense industries, like aluminum manufacturing, have located themselves near sources of cheap industry — typically areas with lots of water power.  And, recently, there's been a move to locate data intensive storage in areas that remain cool in the summer, minimizing the cost of cooling large computers.

In addition, there are movements afoot to cluster some kinds of manufacturing operations so that chemicals can be recycled.  If your organization's process can be a step in recycling some major chemical flow, then you will need to think about the partner industries you need to be near to facilitate that kind of sustainability.

In essence, one can apply this logic to value chains or major processes.  Each major process has a resource profile.  Some major processes are water or energy intensive.  Some require lots of cheap, unskilled labor, while others require highly skilled labor, or access to major data streams.  Senior executives are, of course, already aware of some of these concerns, but it couldn't heart to be sure that this was reflected in the organization's business process architecture.  A simply table and a bit of color coding could be used to show which processes are highly dependent on what resources.  That, in turn, would suggest which processes might be clustered and which might need to be separated by some distance to assure that each subprocess was near needed resources.

We are entering an era of resource limitations and worldwide supply chains.  Location of industries or at least some of their major subprocesses is going to become increasingly important to the larger organizations that are going to master worldwide manufacturing, or the offering of worldwide services that depend on information or energy flows.  Process people are in a good position to help with the kinds of planning that will make it possible.

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