Transforming your supply chain with IBM Supply Chain Process Modeler, Part 3: Using SCPM for supply chain process modeling and analysis

In Part 3 of this series, you'll learn how to use SCPM the basic functions of SCPM to create a new project, configure and use various diagrams and the scorecard, and import and export models and data to and from SCPM.


Changrui Ren (, Manager, Supply Chain Optimization, IBM China

Changrui Ren photoChangrui Ren is the manager of Supply Chain Optimization team at IBM Research in Beijing, China. He joined IBM in 2005 after receiving his Ph.D. in Control Science and Engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing, P.R. China. He has led multiple research projects on business process management, performance management, and supply chain management.

Bing Shao (, Staff Researcher, IBM China

Bing Shao photoBing Shao is a Staff Researcher at IBM Research in Beijing, China. He joined IBM in 2006 and has been driving activities to integrate industry process standard models with end-to-end supply chain transformation. He holds a Master's degree in Computer Science from Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, P.R. China.

Miao He (, Researcher, IBM China

Miao He photoMiao He is a Researcher at IBM Research in Beijing, China. She joined IBM in 2009 after receiving her M.S. degree in Industrial Engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing, P.R. China. Her research interests include supply chain management, business process management, clinical decision making and stochastic dynamic programming.

Jin Dong (, Leader, IBM China Analytics Center , IBM China

Jin Dong photoJin Dong is the Cluster Executive of Industry Solutions at IBM Research in China. He is also the Leader of the IBM China Analytics Center. He received his Ph.D. from Tsinghua University P.R. China in 2001. Before joining IBM, he was the Research Assistant Professor in the Industrial Engineering Department of Arizona State University in the US.

08 February 2012

Also available in Russian


In Part 3, you'll learn how to use the basic features of SCPM. The article contains the following sections:

Create a new SCPM project

To create a new SCPM project, complete the following steps:

  1. Open SCPM in a new workspace.
  2. Select File => New => SCPM Project, as shown in Figure 1.
    Figure 1. New SCPM project
    New SCPM project
  3. In the Create a New Project Wizard dialog shown in Figure 2, specify a name and a storage location for the project. By default, the project is stored in your workspace, but you can change its location. Click Next.
    Figure 2. Name the new SCPM project
    Name the new SCPM project
  4. In the next dialog, shown in Figure 3, select a process framework and a reference model under that framework. There are two kinds of process frameworks built in: frameworks from the Supply-Chain Council and frameworks from APQC. Under each framework, there are multiple reference models for your selection. The selected reference model is used as the reference when building your model in this project.
    Figure 3. Apply a reference model
    Apply a reference model
  5. After you select a reference model, you'll be promoted to accept the license agreement for the reference model. Accept the license statement and click Finish.

You have now created a new SCPM project. You can find the project in both the WebSphere® Business Modeler project tree and the SCPM Navigator. Note that both point to the same project, but the SCPM Navigator can also display SCPM-specific information that is not support by WebSphere Business Modeler.

When the SCPM project is created, the reference model is automatically imported into the SCPM project. You can open the predefined processes and use the Process Properties view to check the content of the reference model.

Create a scenario and a geographic diagram

Using the newly created SCPM project and the reference model, you can build a supply chain model of your own. To do this, the first step is to create a new scenario. A scenario is developed for a particular case, for exampel, and AS-IS scenario to model the current supply chain and a TO-BE scenario to model the future supply chain after improvement.

To create a new scenario, complete the following steps:

  1. Right-click the Supply Chain Model node in the SCPM Navigator view, as shown in Figure 4, then select New => Scenario. Name the scenario and click Finish.
    Figure 4. New scenario in SCPM Navigator view
    New scenario in SCPM Navigator view
  2. Now you can create a geographic diagram to model the supply chain network. Right-click the Diagrams node under the scenario, and select New => Geographic Diagram, as shown in Figure 5. Name the diagram and select Finish.
    Figure 5. New geographic diagram in SCPM Navigator view
    New aphic diagram in SCPM Navigator view
  3. Once the geographic diagram is created, you can use the SCPM Navigator to find the diagram, then double-click to open the diagram editor, as shown in Figure 6. The diagram editor looks like a Geographic Information System (GIS), with a world map as the default background, and a toolbar and a palette to manipulate the model. You can change the background to other maps according to business requirements.
    Figure 6. Geographic diagram editor
    Geographic diagram editor

Build the supply chain network

In the geographic diagram you can build the supply chain network in a drag-and-drop manner. You can create facilities using the tools provided by the palette on the right, and configure the attributes of the nodes in the model, such as the name, location, color, and so on.

To build the Supply Chain Network in the Geographic Diagram, do the following:

  1. Open the Palette in the geographic diagram editor and select a facility, such as Supplier.
  2. Drag the Supplier to a geographic location.
  3. Repeat this to place other facilities in geographic locations.
  4. Save the project.
  5. After you finish building the supply chain network, you can map the facilities to the processes. To configure the process-to-facility mapping, double-click the facility in the Geographic Diagram editor to open the Facility Configuration dialog, shown in Figure 7.
  6. Select Processes on the left to switch to the Processes configuration page. The tree lists all the processes in the reference model. Select the processes that are related to the selected facility, and click OK to create the mappings between the supply chain node and the related processes.
    Figure 7. Map supply chain nodes to processes
    Map supply chain nodes to processes
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 to configure all the facilities in the supply chain network model.
  8. When you have finished configuring all the facilities in the model, you can link the facilities by material and information flows to construct a real supply chain network. To build the linkage among facilities, click the Material or Information Flow icon in the palette, then click the start node and end node in the model, as shown in Figure 8. You can configure the attributes for the links, such as the arrows, line style, color, and so on.
    Figure 8. Define the material and informational flow
    Define the material and informational flow

You've now built the supply chain network model and established mappings between supply chain nodes and business processes.

Overview of SCPM features

This section introduces all the basic features of SCPM, including geographic diagrams, thread diagrams, the Process Properties view, the SCPM Navigator, the Welcome page, cause-and-effect analysis and scorecard.

Geographic diagrams

Geographic diagrams are used to build and display the supply chain network model in a drag-and-drop manner. They are powered by mini GIS engines to enable zooming in and out, and moving and locating your facilities on the background map. Geographic diagrams distinguishe between material (blue lines) and information (red lines) flows among the supply chain facilities.

You can find the geographic diagram you built in the previous section by expanding the Supply Chain Model under the Diagrams node.

You can configure the supply chain network by switching to the Properties tab at the bottom, as shown in Figure 9. Here you can change the background, description, and whether or not to display the process configuration information on the diagram.

Figure 9. Properties view of the Geographic Diagram
Properties view of the Geographic Diagram

Figure 10 shows the toolbar of the mini GIS.

Figure 10. The toolbar of the Geographic Diagram
The toolbar of the Geographic Diagram

The GIS toolbar is used to edit elements of a geographic diagram. It consists of three main sections:

  • Show/Hide: Four buttons control showing or hiding map elements, including the grid, map, cities, and links.
  • Map operation: Six buttons help to fit to map or model editor, select the map, move the map, and zoom in and out of the map.
  • Configuration: Three buttons are used to add city information, change map settings, and lock the supply chain nodes on the diagram.

You can replace the original map with a new one that fits your specific requirements; for example, you can switch from the default world map to a US map. To do that, you need to first get the map file in .gar format. You can ask the SCPM development team for the map file. After getting the map file, click the Settings button on the toolbar of the geographic diagram to open the Map Settings dialog, shown in Figure 11, to import the map file into SCPM.

Figure 11. Import a new map for a geographic diagram
Import a new map for a geographic diagram

Once the new map is successfully imported, you can go to the Properties tab of the geographic diagram to change the background to the new map by selecting it from the drop-down list of the Background item, as shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12. Change the background
Change the background

After the background map is changed, the locations of all the facilities on the map are also mapped to the new map.

SCPM also provides data import and export functions. The export function allows you to export the model information and diagrams to Microsoft® Excel® and Microsoft PowerPoint® or an image file for further use. The import function supports automatically locating the facilities on the map by importing Excel data. This is especially useful when there are lots of facilities in the supply chain model.

Thread diagrams

Geographic diagrams provide a Level 1 view (the coarsest one) of your supply chain; thread diagrams, shown in Figure 13, are most often used to model Level 2 business processes. They display the major processes within the supply chain and their corresponding locations, as assigned through the geographic diagram.

Figure 13. a thread diagram
A thread diagram

To create a thread diagram, complete the following steps:

  1. Right-click the Diagrams node under the Supply Chain Model catalog in the SCPM Navigator and select New => Thread Diagram.
  2. To build a thread diagram, simply drag the facility nodes in the SCPM Navigator tree to the editor, and link the process elements by material flows and information flows, just as you did in the geographic diagram.
  3. You can also edit the attributes for the elements (both nodes and links), including the style, color, font, and so on. To edit the attributes, select the element on the diagram and select its corresponding Properties tab to edit, as shown in Figure 14.
    Figure 14. Properties tab of the thread diagram
    Properties tab of thread diagram

The thread diagrams also have the built-in linkage to WebSphere Business Modeler, thus you can directly jump from a process node in the thread diagram to the corresponding WebSphere Business Modeler process by right-clicking the node and selecting Open Process.

SCPM also enables exporting the thread diagram to either an image or a Microsoft PowerPoint file, just as with the geographic diagram.

The Process Properties view

The Process Properties view, shown in Figure 15, displays additional information that is available from the SCPM process model. Coupled with the Attributes view provided by WebSphere Business Modeler, you can model and display all information related to a process element. When you select an SCPM process node in the WebSphere Business Modeler editor, the Process Properties view is activated automatically. There are five tabs inside the Process Properties view: General, Metrics, Best Practices, Inputs, and Outputs. The Inputs and Outputs tabs are used only in the SCOR model whereas the other tabs are used for both the SCOR and APQC PCF.

Figure 15. The Process Properties view
Process properties view

Let's take a look at the tabs of the Process Properties view.

General tab

The General tab, shown in Figure 16, displays the basic information of a process node, including the process name and process description.

Figure 16. General tab of the Process Properties view
General tab of process properties view

Metrics tab

The Metrics tab, shown in Figure 17, maintains information related to performance metrics. This tab could support more information than the Business Measures view in WebSphere Business Modeler. Besides maintaining the metric definitions, it also provides the basic analysis functions of a scorecard, for example, it can generate the radar chart for the benchmarking results. You can export the metrics information to an Excel file, and vice versa. You can also customize the interface of this tab, and convert the metric definitions to a WebSphere Business Modeler Business Measures view for further monitoring purpose.

Figure 17. Metrics tab of the process properties view
Metrics tab of the process properties view

You can edit the properties of individual metrics, as shown in Figure 18. Metric properties are divided into two groups: basic and benchmarking. The basic group consists of basic information such as name, description, unit, performance attribute, source, and actual metrics value. The benchmarking group includes data items like parity, advantage, superior and target values, gap between actual and target value, and choices of whether the metric improves as value increases. To edit a metric's properties, right-click it in the Metrics tab, and select Edit.

Figure 18. Edit the metric's properties
Edit the metric's properties

After entering all required data in the Metrics tab, SCPM can generate a radar chart to display the benchmarking results based on the entered data. The radar chart can be organized either by Performance Attribute or by Performance Metric. You can customize this chart and export it to an image file. You can further configure the display of the radar chart using the Configure Radar Chart dialog, shown in Figure 19. For example, you can set the weight to the metrics under a performance attribute when you sort the radar chart by performance attribute.

Figure 19. Configure Radar Chart dialog
Configure Radar Chart dialog

Best Practices tab

The Best Practices tab, shown in Figure 20, is used to maintain the best practices that are related to the selected process. The best practices are provided by the reference models, and are very helpful to diagnose and improve a process.

Figure 20. Best Practices tab of process properties view
Best Practices tab of process properties view

Besides the basic display and edit functions, this tab also provides simple maturity analysis functions. You can first choose which best practices are applicable to your process and then mark their maturity level and importance.

Inputs and Outputs tabs

The Inputs and Outputs tabs are designed for the SCOR processes only. Unlike the the Inputs and Outputs tabs in the WebSphere Business Modeler Attributes view, they are used to display the cross-process relationships.

Figure 21. Inputs tab of process properties view
Inputs tab of process properties view

The SCPM Navigator

The SCPM Navigator, shown in Figure 22, is the control center of SCPM. The layout and operations of the Navigator are very similar to the WebSphere Business Modeler project tree. It lists all the projects in your workspace and allows you to add, delete, rename, duplicate, and open SCPM project elements.

Figure 22. SCPM Navigator view
SCPM Navigator view

The Navigator comprises different catalogs and elements, yet the operations for all of them are similar. These operations include new, delete, rename, duplicate, and open elements, and each can be accessed by right-clicking.

The Welcome page

The Welcome page, shown in Figure 23, provides a means to rapidly navigate through a multi-element SCPM model. It is a quick way to open important models, which is especially useful for demonstrations.

Figure 23. Welcome Page
Welcome Page

When you drag a target element from the SCPM Navigator to the Welcome page, SCPM automatically creates links for it, so you can click Open to quickly access it.

Besides shortcuts to SCPM elements, you can also create shortcuts to files on your hard drive. To create a file link, drag the File Link node from the palette to the editor and double-click the File Link icon to designate the target file on your hard drive and select how to open the file, as shown in Figure 24. For example, if you are going to create a file link to an Excel file and you select Open With System Editor, the target file will open in Excel when you click Open.

Figure 24. Configure file link
Configure file link

You can use the Group element as the container to group shortcuts. In order to create a group, simply drag the Group element to the Welcome page. You can edit the group properties using the Properties tab, as shown in Figure 25.

Figure 25. Group in Welcome Page
Group in Welcome Page

Fishbone diagrams

A fishbone diagram, shown in Figure 26, helps to depict the causes of a certain event within the supply chain and conduct a cause-and-effect analysis. A fishbone diagram is an important tool in the Lean Six Sigma and SCOR methodology. Integrating such a tool helps SCPM to provide an end-to-end support for the supply chain transformation.

Figure 26. Fishbone Diagram
Fishbone Diagram

To create a fishbone diagram, right-click the Cause-and-effect Analysis node under Supporting Tools in the SCPM Navigator, then select New => Fishbone Diagram. You can then add the cause-and-effect nodes to the diagram by dragging elements from the palette. Other operations for a fishbone diagram include delete, rename, and duplicate, which you can access by right-clicking in the SCPM Navigator. Although SCPM assigns the parent node to new elements by default, you can change them. You can also add a fishbone background to the diagram and change the background color. Figure 27 shows a sample fishbone diagram.

Figure 27. Sample fishbone diagram
Sample fishbone diagram

After creating a fishbone diagram, you can edit features such as names, value weights, parent nodes, fonts, and colors. To do this, double-click or right-click the node and select Edit Node Properties. The Fishbone properties dialog, shown in Figure 28, has three tabs: Properties, Font and Appearance. The Properties tab allows you to assign a weight for the node by giving a relative importance value. The Font and Appearance tabs allow you to edit the font and appearance of the node.

Figure 28. Edit node properties
Edit node properties

You can also edit the properties of all fishbone nodes using the Edit All Fishbone Nodes option from the fishbone diagram. But you can only edit the common properties using the Edit Fishbone Node in batch function.

SCPM provides multiple ways to format and change the layout of a fishbone diagram, as shown in Figure 29:

  • Change the parent of a node: Drag a node to the parent node or use node editor to select a parent node.
  • Auto-layout: Fit the layout of a fishbone diagram to a standard size and position.
  • Weight normalize: Normalize the weight of all causes.
Figure 29. Menu to format and change fishbone diagram
Menu to format and change Fishbone Diagram

A fishbone diagram has three tabs: Diagram, Weight and Analysis. The Diagram tab is used to build the fishbone skeleton, while the other two tabs are used for analysis. Since we already discussed how to create a fishbone diagram, we will skip reviewing the Diagram tab and focus on the other two tabs.

The Weight tab, shown in Figure 30, displays a summary of the weight of all nodes organized by a tree. This tab is used to normalize the weights of all Causes. Moreover, weight data can be exported to an Excel file.

Figure 30. Weight tab of the fishbone diagram
Weight tab of Fishbone Diagram

A Pareto chart displays the comparative weight of elements on the Analysis tab, as shown in Figure 31. Note that the diagram changes can be synchronized automatically in both the Weight and Analysis tabs after data gets saved. You can also normalize the weight or export the diagram to a picture file by right-clicking on the fishbone diagram or using the toolbar on the Analysis tab.

Figure 31. Analysis tab of the fishbone diagram
Analysis tab of Fishbone Diagram

The scorecard

The scorecard is almost the same as the Metrics tab in the Process Properties view. The key difference is that the metrics in the Scorecard are for the entire supply chain, rather than just for an individual process. You can access the Scorecard from the Supporting Tools catalog in the SCPM Navigator.

Figure 32. A scorecard
A scorecard

Importing and exporting SCPM models

This section describes how to import and export SCPM models and data.

When you want to export or import pure WebSphere Business Modeler elements, you can simply use WebSphere Business Modeler export and import functions. However, if you want to include the additional SCPM content, you must use the SCPM wizard to import or export.

Export an SCPM project

SCPM provides an export wizard to help users export SCPM projects. The export function also creates a backup from the Workbench to the file system.

To export a whole SCPM project, do the following:

  1. Select File => Export from the main menu, then select the Supply Chain Process Modeler Export node. In the Export dialog, shown in Figure 33, you can see that three formats are supported: SCPM (.scm), Excel (.xls) and Visio (.vdx). The Excel and Visio formats are for processes only. If you want to export the whole SCPM project, you need to select the .scm format.
    Figure 33. SCPM export wizard
    SCPM export wizard
  2. On the next page, specify the Target directory, Project and Export file name, and click Finish, as shown in Figure 34. The project is exported to the target directory as an .scm file.
    Figure 34. Export an SCPM project
    Export an SCPM project

Import an SCPM project

SCPM provides an import wizard to import SCPM projects into your selected workspace.

Importing an SCPM project is similar to exporting a project. The first step of the import operation is to launch the SCPM import wizard, shown in Figure 35, and select the .scm format. Then specify the .scm file to be imported in your disk, and click the Finish button. The SCPM project is imported to your workspace with its original name.

Figure 35. Import an SCPM project
Import an SCPM project

Export processes to Visio

You can also export processes in a project to Microsoft Visio® files. To export processes to Visio files, choose the Microsoft Visio (.vdx) format in the SCPM export wizard. Note that you can only export processes to Visio files, not any other SCPM elements, such as geographic and fishbone diagrams.

To export processes into Visio files, open the SCPM export wizard, shown in Figure 36, and specify the Target Directory and the Project to be exported, then select either Export entire project or Export specific elements. If you choose Export specific elements, you can select the specific process you wish to export. Then name the exported file and click Finish. A .vdx file is then exported to the target directory.

Figure 36. Export processes to Visio files
Export processes to Visio files


In this article you learned about the many features of Supply Chain Process Modeler, including building a new SCPM project, using the various diagrams, and importing and exporting SCPM projects, and more. In Part 4, you'll learn about the advanced simulation functions of SCPM, as well as SCPM process simulation methodology.


Sample ABC ProjectABC_Project.zip1.3MB
SCPM offeringSCPM_Package_Offering_v7.0.0_20110907.zip16.8MB



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Zone=Business process management, WebSphere
ArticleTitle=Transforming your supply chain with IBM Supply Chain Process Modeler, Part 3: Using SCPM for supply chain process modeling and analysis