New technology implementation and process interaction challenges
Business process audit: improving poor process flow
There are many analogies for an organization that runs smoothly, “like clockwork” or “like a well-oiled machine” included among them. An organization that works efficiently is one of the primary goals of modernizing operations, but often technology improvements don’t yield the intended results. Why is this?
Technology changes are not always done in conjunction with business process enhancements. Technology changes will not bring value if they do not work together with people and process changes, just like cogs in a clock or parts in a machine.
By digging deeper, we can analyze some reasons why new technology implementationsfail to provide the expected value or ROI originally projected.
Where things can go wrong
When organizations move toward modernization and improvement, their main goals are usually to increase automation in an effort to improve efficiency, increase flexibility, cut costs, and keep up with ever-present, ever-changing market and customer demands.
Technology on its own is generally not the panacea for all these challenges. It requires a concerted effort between Technology, Process and People. Without a focused effort on these key elements, projects generally fail to achieve the expected results.
Why does this happen?
Below is a selection of a few reasons related to process:
- Little or no understanding of current business processes
- Limited metrics that provide insight into process compliance by end users
- A lack of process standardization
- Lack of new technology project funding to assign to process review and enhancements
- Functional and business project requirements do not consider the impact to business processes
- Technology solution designs are not reviewed with process owners and end user to assess the impact on capability, capacity and quality on the process workflow
- Process changes are not treated as critically as technology changes
- Process changes are treated with a ‘Big Bang’ approach and not staggered
What can I do to avoid this?
Review current process flows with a new mindset and open mind. Make sure your organization is spending its time and money wisely. Ask yourselves, “Do we clearly understand our goals and have a defined way to measure success that is more than a successful technology implementation, or number of open defects?”.
More specifically these are some immediate actions you can take.
- Have a conversation with business process owners and trusted end users.
- Walk them through the project goals and technology and ask for their insights into what it would mean to how they do work today. What would need to change?
- While this will not resolve the challenge, it will provide you insight into what lies ahead.
- Do an audit of your dashboards, scorecards, etc. to find what metrics you have today that measure process compliance.
- You may find that most of your metrics measure process output (i.e. Utilization, Cost per truck rolls, repeat activity) not process compliance. Having someone tell you to do something and actually doing it are two separate things.
- Ask for copies of business processes, recent training material from multiple end user sources.
- Lack of having these readily available may be an indicator that processes have moved away from standardized due to varying reasons (i.e. regional regulations, people demographics). This will assist in determining level of process compliance and standardization.
- Conduct a process impact assessment If project funding is a concern.
- It can be done internally or externally with only a moderate level of effort and prove to be an invaluable piece of hard data to clearly display business impacts when securing funding and operational engagement.
- Build into all discussions on functional and business project requirements a process impact assessment.
- It can be as simple as some incremental columns on a spreadsheet that asks users to identify the process and impact. This will help to set the ongoing project tone that business process is important and needs to be reviewed throughout the project.
- Make the business process owners accountable to assess effectiveness and impact on their current and new process flow as IT teams deliver solutions (agile or waterfall).
- Track all unique process enhancements/changes within the project.
- There is often only a single gantt line (process development) or milestone (process work completed) on a project plan. Like any technology build there are requirements, design, development and testing phases for processes along with unique features and milestones.
- Look at agile process improvement techniques.
- Business processes launched as a single package are known to have more chances of failure. There are likely numerous processes changes that can be made prior to technology implementation that would minimize the impact.
Never assume that because technology improvements are implemented, they’re working in the right way or the best way for your organization. Business process flow is a big determinate of how these improvements effect your organization, so optimizing them has a major impact on productivity and success.