Rapidly adopting technology for its own sake without a thorough understanding of your organization’s challenges is a recipe for failure
Many organizations rush into company-wide software implementations, mistaking them to be a panacea for whatever ails them, when instead they should be taking a step back to take a hard look at their current and future business requirements.
Deploying new technology should be viewed as opportunity to transform how you do business, and deep introspection needs to occur before a software vendor is even selected. Tying your company to a technology prematurely will force you to make compromises that impede innovation and growth, and possibly confound existing problems. You need to look at how your organization can be improved as a whole so the software you deploy supports the business process changes that create a viable, agile and competitive business.
Visualizing how you want to do business is critical for selecting software that supports true business transformation
A good starting point is to examine what challenges prompted you to think that deploying new technology would be an answer:
- Is it because your business is growing and your current systems can’t keep up?
- Is it because old technology is actually hindering your ability to grow and keep up with your market?
- Do you have a too many systems that work well alone but can’t work well with each other?
- Are you losing customers because you have inadequate systems and processes to serve them well?
These questions can be painful to look at objectively but they are necessary for success. And you can’t start looking for improvements without asking why. You need to understand the root problem. Is it a lack of automation? Inefficient information management? Communication failures between systems, departments or people? No one likes listing and exposing their weaknesses, but you need to clearly know why you are investing in technology and the issues it is meant to address. A focus on the end goal is critical when you are selecting and implementing software and deciding on configuration. If you base everything on its ability to serve the end goal you will succeed.
If you find you’re fighting fires more often and feel the need to quickly end the pain, then you have even more reason to slow down the process. A knee-jerk reaction may solve your immediate problems, but it doesn’t lead to a transformation that will sustain your business and keep it competitive in the long run.
Everything should be on the table and every stakeholder should be consulted, but keep in mind that not everyone will be right. Anyone working on the front lines will tell you the processes in their world need to be more efficient, but sometimes a process may simply be broken or not needed any longer, so automating it might just exacerbate the problem. Rather than looking at how you are doing business now, you should look at what would be the ideal way of doing business:
- What information do I need to be better?
- What is the actual problem I’m trying to fix?
- Does what I’m trying to do serve the customer better?
- Will it increase profits?
These distinctions can help you articulate a clear endgame: What should the final result look like? Then you can find the software that supports that endgame and not get mired down in the details of features and functions; those will fall into place if it supports your ultimate goal.
If you were to examine software implementation failures you would find that most often it is because the company didn’t know what they needed to do to change. These are not technology installations, it’s a business transformation and it needs to be lead from that business case perspective. You start with a definition of what you are trying to accomplish through the system otherwise you risk over estimating what the system can do and focus on how it gets you there.
Don’t worry about the how or the features; the guys at Solutions360 will get you there. Ask, what do you want to do to manage your business better? What information would help you run your business better? Those questions lead to a business process conversation,” Eric Morris CFO Wayne Automatic.
As difficult as it is for an organization to take a hard look at what’s not working, many companies manage to get through this process and find renewed enthusiasm among employees at all levels. The real challenge is sustaining this momentum and sticking with the plan to realize the ultimate goals. Laying out milestones and timelines while revisiting why you’re going through the process will help guarantee a complete transformation. Through this process you will discover the right software solution for your business will become an essential part of adopting best practices and continually improving your business processes.
Technology is not the silver bullet, but when facing fierce competition, shrinking margins and demanding customers, it is a key component for transforming your business for sustained success.