After 20 years in the business management systems industry (sometimes referred to as ERP), I have observed some trends and behavioural patterns that lead to great results or outcomes and I have observed some that lead to disastrous outcomes for companies, organisations and their people.
Often a business faces various challenges, has growing needs and by virtue of progress is faced with having to take new directions and unlock opportunities. Growth and change in a business context bring challenges and require changes to be made.
Change starts with a mindset that needs to be deliberately focussed on what is needed. Oftentimes, I notice that our initial instinct as human beings is to think we must change the system or change the people or both. This, I believe, is a knee jerk reaction to the challenge and is brought about by anxiety and feeling the need to do something, urgently.
When we try to rationalise that thinking we start thinking that a newer, bigger, shinier system will solve all the challenges and problems we face. It sometimes can, but at what cost and what are the risks. More often it does not solve the business challenge or problem but rather exacerbates it.
When a decision to change a company’s business management software, systems or people is based on the above scenario, the results are often catastrophic. It may also turn out that the result is very little gain for astronomical costs.
There are a number of case studies and examples that I have observed and have seen playing out before my eyes that support these statements and perspectives.
So, how do we solve business problems, challenges, needs and requirements with regards to business management systems?
Firstly, let’s agree that Information Technology is meant to be an enabler for businesses and is meant to give businesses an advantage. It should be the ‘special tool’ that we engage to be a major contributor to solving the business need.
When we “decide” then this must be as a result of thinking first. We believe that this starts with applying some design thinking principles before deciding what the possible solution scenarios are.
In the process of making a decision based on a design thinking process, we will often end up with a pathway to a solution that is less risky and more likely to succeed and have a positive impact on the business. This is agile thinking and decisions taken are not based on perception which can often be the trap when looking at shinier objects.
Before throwing the baby out with the bathwater, stop to think about whether the technology you already have could not be re-imagined, re-purposed, augmented or upgraded to meet the needs of the business. Don’t do it by inviting the “gunslingers” in the industry to help you decide, their objectives are very different to yours. This often leads to overpriced, complex and overly disruptive solutions that are not sustainable for the business. Why do this, when you could have taken on the next version or edition up from what you have and added the few extra features for your needs. It could be that you do adopt a new system but it should be the right size and a natural next step up, not one based on perception or the “gunslingers” spin on what you need. There are many “up size” options to the existing system you may have.
So our advice is…….Think about IT.
At ADINGA we have learned to apply design thinking to a “problem statement” or a “need statement” before we start prescribing solutions.
Take a look at the process of design thinking in the graphic below:
This often leads to one of the following solution scenarios:
- Deciding whether to re-implement what you already have with some add-ons that make it do much more than what you are currently getting.
- Re-designing or optimising the processes you currently have in place and adapting the system to those.
- Upgrading to a product that is a natural “step-up” that is proven to deliver on your needs in a way that is sustainable – i.e your people can be trained to manage it and it won’t break your business, your people or the bank.
Adding valuable enhancements to the solution in addition to the above, like:
- Business Process Management (BPM) layer – lets you control who is doing what and when.
- Business Intelligence (BI) layer – lets you experience and explore your business data and helps you make decisions.
When faced with this your business processes require optimisation or re-engineering. Here are some key pointers to deciding what approach to take.
Use Business Process Optimisation when:
- Existing process is already mapped/documented.
- Existing process fundamentally works but not well enough with some areas in need of improvement.
- Your focus is the process – not on implementing an overarching business strategy.
Use Business Process Re-engineering when:
- The existing process is redundant or in need of a rethink and major improvements.
- The process fundamentally no longer works and a major overhaul is required. Everyone agrees that the current process is useless and needs to be changed.
- Your focus is the overall strategy and not a particular task.
Which approach is better?
It depends on the circumstances facing the business. While process improvement efforts should be guided by organisational efforts, it is important to put these approaches in context to determine which is suitable. In all solution scenarios, one cannot forget the PEOPLE who are at the centre of human interactions in the business landscape.
Solutions are successfully built and delivered around the three P’s:
PEOPLE | PROCESS | & PROGRAM (The Technology bit)
At ADINGA we strive to help solve your problem and address your needs as a business.
We encourage our clients to review their systems every year and see if they are keeping up with the business demands and needs.
If not, then we assist in optimising or re-engineering. We are strong advocates for people power and support constant skills transfer and evaluation of the skills people need to be effective in their roles in the business systems.
We have developed a body of knowledge and are practised at doing this with meaningful outcomes.
We craft technology solutions using our skilled people and the technologies found in the following products: