It was one of the largest challenges I ever had to face. Yes it was the promotion of my dreams to be asked to lead the largest division within the organization. However, it was also the poorest performing division. Turning around this group of downtrodden employees was going to be a long journey.
Some people claim that in these situations all you have to do is get the right people on the bus. That certainly goes a long way, and I did make changes to the leadership team. It wasn’t enough. What we really needed was a big change to our processes and it all started with our dispatch system.
There is no one size fits all.
I didn’t realize this at first, because in the smaller division I had just come from, everything seemed ok with the dispatch system. But when your solution doesn’t scale up as you do, more and more manual work arounds start slipping into place. And for my new division that was 5 times the size of my previous one, we had created a recipe for disaster, and the baking had begun.
For us the point of pain had definitely become larger than the resistance to change. It wasn’t just about having an efficient field service, it was also about keeping up with customer demand. Our marketing department kept upping the ante on customer service and we couldn’t even meet today’s promises. The deferral of capital had caught up with us.
Change: a multi-layered phenomenon
It was clear something had to be done and it had to be something that worked for the entire organization. With this one thought, the change management process began. It was going to be a technology solution for sure, however in order to be truly successful we needed to have a strong adoption of the solution. And that means aligning the purpose of the implementation to every single person’s work. In this way, a holistic view of the project is formed. Solutions need process re-engineering, change management, policy reviews and a focus on culture. If your culture isn’t ready for change, and open and innovative, it’s going to be a long uphill battle to get all the benefits the technology solution offers.
A holistic approach.
We had an opportunity to leap frog forward. Rather than just patch what we had, we went out with an RFP to find out about the latest and greatest. It was about partnering with someone who had a view on the entire industry and could point us towards best practices. It was a chance to bring pride back into the operations.
There’s no question it was hard work. We had to lock in the capital investment right up front. We thought we did a pretty good job on the change management but to be honest we could’ve done better. And we certainly did do better when the next IT implementation came around. Our holistic view of policies and processes allowed us to find even more efficiencies and customer centric practices outside the technical solution.
The one big lesson I learned from this experience is not to sell short the impact a new IT solution can have on your organization. It’s more than just improved productivity. When you give your people the right tools, the right support and the right culture you release the potential of your organization. Our dispatch implementation was the centerpiece for our turnaround.
If you have an underperforming area in your company, take a hard look at the supporting technology. Has it scaled up with your organization and customer needs? Are your capital deferrals keeping you on a path of pain? Is your employee engagement suffering? These are all signs that you’ve reached the tipping point and it’s time for change!