People, Process then Technology

Change in business is constant. New systems are being replaced by either developing new software or buying an off the shelf solution. New processes are being created and current processes are being made faster, cheaper and simpler for the end user. In reality, business improvement never really ends.

I’ve been consulting with large and small businesses for over a decade and the one trend I see over and over again in projects is silo based thinking, driven by functional silos in the organization. This thinking leads to delays in projects and increased costs usually due to a functional approach to change, poor decision making & lack of properly aligned roles, responsibilities and leadership.

Today’s business leaders have been conditioned to thinking within their silo whether it be finance, accounting  banking, sales, marketing or human resources. Project budgets are allocated based on these silos, individual performance is based on these silos, overall management is based on these silos and ultimately decisions for the entire company get made based on these silos. Silo thinking creates division within organizations and that division leads to all sorts of problems that don’t support the companies ultimate goals.

When a business is trying to change or create processes, those processes span the functional silos bringing with it many decision makers from different functional groups who are simply not aligned with the goals, budgets and motivations of the leading functional group.

To solve this, a paradigm shift is needed at the executive level.

When faced with change, companies should take a process view to change rather than a functional view.

Silo mentality and these common project issues can all be tied back to this simple easy to implement approach to change.

People, Process, Technology.

Getting all 3 aligned is absolutely essential to ensuring any change management activity will work. And they have to be resolved in that order.

1. People

Appoint a process leader for each of the processes you are changing. Someone who cares about the end to end process, not just their functional area. This persons role & responsibility is to make the process the best for the company not for any particular department.

No that person should ask; What are the key issues, Who owns the process, Who all is involved, What are their roles, are they committed to improving it and working together and importantly are they prepared to do the work to fix the problem?

2. Process

A process can be defined as starting with a trigger event that creates a chain of actions that results in something being prepared for a customer of that process. Accounts payable, employee on-boarding, customer complaints are all process examples that involve many departments in a company.

Starting at high level and identifying the key big steps is important to see the process from end to end. Then moving into more detail to capture the various layers involved and various exceptions. Focusing on the high frequency transactions can have significant benefit to standardizing the process. But also remember that it can be the non-standard transactions where service is slipping most or the potential for significant failure in the process may exist. You need to look at it from end to end across all areas of the business involve in the process.

Document them in diagrams so everyone involved can see and understand the process and so that everyone has visibility to make the best business decision.

Iterate often.

3. Technology

Once the people are aligned, and the process developed and clarified, technology can be applied to execute the process as it was designed. Because this is the most expensive step, you know that what you decide here will align with what the business actually needs and the project can deliver on it’s objectives.

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People, Process then Technology
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