Previous blog posts in this series have explored how to see the connection between your business’s strategy, competencies and processes and how to make that model a realistic, living asset to use for decision support. These approaches help give your organization the means to know how it’s performing against its objectives and provide knowledge about how change needs to be executed and what it will impact. Visibility and knowledge are powerful and necessary tools to help an organization be agile, but aren’t always enough. Actually implementing the change can be the sticking point, especially when technology is involved.
As digital business becomes the norm, IT departments have become more burdened with implementing and maintaining complex systems and structures. Even a company that has a bounty of IT resources will be looking for ways to prioritize projects and empower the business to take increased ownership of systems.
Armed with the operational model that shows a clear path of which processes need to be implemented or changed to execute updated strategy, the business can model new requirements for workflows, or examine ways of optimizing the workflows they have. If the next step is to lobby for resources from IT to push the changes live, they may find themselves with a long wait, or an expensive internal project proposal. Fortunately systems are becoming more business-friendly and easier to implement without extensive programming or IT involvement. Not every workflow requires being executed on large, complex and difficult to adapt systems. Business groups should look for workflow automation systems that will allow them to manage the bulk of the definition and deployment on their own.
There’s an unfortunate dynamic that happens when process improvement involves complex IT systems – the pressure becomes very high to design the perfect process and get it right the first time, especially if vendor systems’ consultants are required in addition to precious internal IT resources. Process improvement often involves a little bit of art, not only science, to come up with the desired result. Business groups can feel a little more innovative and adventurous with their processes when they can make use of lighter-weight systems that they can manage on their own. Many projects can be best accomplished using iterative deployment, tweaking and improving as needed.
Many processes are candidates for running outside of the ERP or other IT-owned systems, helping curb costs and making business groups less dependent on IT resources. If integration points are needed with systems of record, such as writing data to and from them, business-friendly workflow systems can always be layered over the top of them, for easier management by the business when the workflow changes over time.
Organizations are pressed to be agile in order to keep up with market demands and surpass the competition. This agility can only result when decision makers are armed with the ability to see how change needs to be executed throughout the organization AND are empowered to implement those changes as efficiently as possible.