When using software to create efficiencies in your business, you must remember that software is just the implementation.
In IT, we have an acronym called ‘GIGO’ – garbage in, garbage out.
If the process is rubbish, the software replacement will improve nothing and could worsen things.
They are making it worse! How can things get any worse?
Process and Tech
First, you will have wasted resources in both time and money on something that would never work, and no one wants to use it; that would undoubtedly be worse.
Implementing 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 elsewhere.
If they start to work around the process, it will leave you with no visibility of how the implementation functions or why it is failing. No data from the process, and you cannot work out what needs to be changed to fix it.
Countless stories of new software products being installed and users continuing to use the ‘old’ system. The users hate the new system because it does not work like the old one.
Managers think 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 the implementation, you need to work through the current process and see if it works well or can be improved.
If it is not documented, 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 works by asking the people using 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 appeal is.
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.
Just sending a request via email or an electronic form can leave users in the dark.
The process and tech should not compete; they should work together to give you the necessary efficiency.
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 operation, they should be implemented first to test the changes.
It might be that the changes can only be shown in the digital revolution, 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 users have signed off the process should you start to think about digitising the process.
Implementing the strategy in the software will be the easiest part of the project, providing what you are implementing works.
This should vastly reduce wasted resources and improve the number of successfully delivered projects.
Regarding the Process and Tech relationship, the business and the process always lead.
The tech is there to automate, speed up and make the company more efficient, but if the process or tech is not fit for purpose, both will fail.