When you are looking to use software to create efficiencies in your business you must remember that software is just the implementation.
[h2_heading]Process and Tech[/h2_heading]
In IT we have a acronym called GIGO. Garbage in, Garbage out. If the process is rubbish to begin with the software replacement will improve nothing and could actually make things worse. Making it worse! How can things get any worse? To start with you will have wasted resources in both time and money on something which was never going to work and no one wants to use, that would certainly be worse. Having now implemented a process that is not fit for purpose can create new bottlenecks as the inefficiencies have been removed leaving users more frustrated than before.
Moving all the pressure onto people to work around a failing process can cause stress. Causing stress is never good for productivity and morale will suffer leading to employees deciding to work somewhere else. If they start to work around the process it will leave you will no visibility of how the process implementation is functioning or why it is failing. No data from the process and you cannot work out what needs to be changed to fix it. There are countless stories of new software products being installed and users continuing to use the ‘old’ system. The users hate the new system as it does not work like the old system. Managers think that the new system is working well as everything is still moving forwards but they have no idea that the new system is not even being touched. So what can you do?
Before you start on the implementation you need to work through the current process and see if it actually works well or if it can be improved. If it is not already documented then write out the whole process flow. You can use Microsoft Visio for this or several other tools are available. Find out if the current process actually works by asking the people that use it. You need to know from both sides of the process so the users that start the request and the users that have to fulfil that request. Ask if both users can think of anything to improve this process. They might suggest having more visibility of how far along their request is. Just sending a request off via email or an electronic form can leave users feeling left in the dark. If it is a three stage process communicate what stage of the process users are on and who is currently responsible for completing that stage. The Process and Tech should not compete with each other, they should work together to give you the efficiency you need.
By now you should have a solid process mapped out in diagrams from start to finish. If these improvements can be tested on the current process they should be implemented first to test out the changes. It might be that the changes can only be shown in the digital process in which case do some dummy runs using only the process logic. Have the requirements been met and has the process been improved? Only when the process has been signed off by the users should you start to think about digitising the process. Implementing the process in software will be the easiest part of the project providing what you are implementing works. This should vastly cut down on the amount of wasted resources and improve the number of successfully delivered projects.
When it comes to the Process and Tech relationship, the business and the process always lead. The tech is there to automate, speed up and make the business more efficient but if either of the Process and Tech pair are not fit for purpose then both will fail together.