Have you ever heard of the phrase penny wise but pound foolish? This is often the root cause of a series of technological mistakes or uninformed decisions that lead to painful conditions in the long term. It begins with leadership experiencing difficulty or a limitation that hinders their ability to do business. Revenue growth or cost savings likely created a new need that a specific technology can help to solve. In these cases, the first step of the technology implementation is usually ignored. Systems are often implemented without considering the business process first.
Let’s begin by identifying where mistakes begin:
When organizations do not have a defined set of business processes, they implement technologies without considering the complete scenarios. This is where the mistakes begin. Missing process steps are discovered after the technology is implemented, resulting in manual behaviors or band-aid technology bolt-ons that cause data problems. These data problems become more cumbersome as system usage expands, and soon there are upstream and downstream impacts as a result. More band-aids are required, usually resulting in more people and expensive support models.
How can you prevent falling into a string of errors?
The best way to avoid this string of errors is to pause, take a deep breath, and look at the problem you are trying to resolve with technology. Take the time to document the business process first, then evaluate the technology after you have a defined process. This will enable you to expose gaps up front and design your systems accordingly.
You’ve found yourself in an error string; how can you escape?
The best way to escape an error string is to pause again and ensure that you have your business process documented end-to-end. After you can see the full process end to end, the gaps can be identified and redesigned. Performing a proper root cause analysis on the issues will identify the preventative actions that are required to prevent future error strings. My advice is not to be afraid to change a poorly performing process. Continuous improvement must be a culture, not a threat to any organization.
Understanding the probability of error:
ERP projects and order management processes are often the two largest system implementations that lead to error strings. ERP systems are often complex and interrelated. They are also expensive, resulting in quite a bit of cost avoidance and multiple teams. These complexities often overlook the full business process. Order management processes are equally as challenging because they impact revenue and speed often drives process failures.
IT Managers need to ensure that they collaborate with the business teams and consider the end-to-end process. This collaboration is very important because no matter how good your product or service is, if navigating your back office becomes a challenge, it will make the user experience terrible. If customers cannot navigate your company or if they are forced to learn too much about your internal processes, they will look to other providers and eventually replace you.
As companies evolve, grow, and mature, their technology systems can easily do the exact opposite. New systems pop up to solve needs in different departments, but they are rarely integrated from day one. This creates pockets of process and manual data being passed between internal teams. There are simple and easy to implement integration tools that connect these different systems. However, there still needs to be (at least) a single human being within the organization that can see and understand the business processes across these organizations.
This function can be outsourced to save on costs or filled internally, but it cannot be ignored. 80% of all issues in technology systems are data related, mostly because someone ignored the business process or they were unaware of the need to consider processes end to end when systems were installed. This is ultimately the reason why companies have IT mistakes that lead to a string of mistakes across the company over the years. Once embedded into a company, it becomes difficult to pull out from these conditions without major IT transformational projects. (That in turn have political, financial, and organizational hardship on larger companies in the future)
If you are a small to mid-market company interested in growing, evolving, and planning for the future, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- William Mills