course of several articles, we have talked about moving forward with our
strategic plans, and implementing the right technology for the job. We
have talked about why technology projects fail, pointing out that
organizations tend to get the “cart before the horse” by selecting
technology without necessarily considering how it will impact the
business processes it is designed to support. There is an additional
element that needs to be considered when enabling change through the
implementation of technology…
Often, organizations are reengineering
processes and implementing new automated systems to address business
process challenges, whether automating manual processes or enhancing
existing software applications. Unfortunately, organizations tend to
make one very large mistake during these efforts – they make change
management decisions in the context of a single silo – solely within
their own departmental boundaries.
It is a rare team, indeed, which
considers how to improve operations across a full business process. For
example, a customer service organization might consider how they can
more quickly respond to and address customer calls. They might implement
call center software or other technology that allows customer service
representatives to answer calls within X number of rings, and enter a
sales order within X number of keystrokes.
However, has any thought been given to
the “upstream” or “downstream” processes, and the impacts on those
process “handoffs”? It is likely that our customer service organization
is thinking only in terms of its own organizational silo, and how those
“internal” processes are being performed.
Granted, those metrics and operational
functions are critical to the organization. However, what about the
downstream process of order fulfillment, for example? When considering
the technology or business process change, are you considering how to
more effectively provide the inputs needed to fulfill that customer
What about product development processes
which (should) rely on customer feedback in order to develop products
customers will purchase? How are these processes impacted by the changes
made in the customer service department? Is there an opportunity to
improve the information being collected in the customer service
department so it can be provided to the product development team?
I think you would agree that all
departments play a key role in the operational capabilities of an
organization. Each must work together in a synchronized manner in order
for the organization to be most effective. If one of those processes
gets out of whack, the “wobbles” are felt throughout the rest of the
When considering making improvements to
your functional area, consider the following:
Identify the specific information,
documents or other inputs you are receiving into your departmental
business processes. Can they be provided in a more useful manner or
format? Are they being provided often enough? Too often? Is there
anything missing from the input that causes rework, delay or
additional effort in order to execute your own business processes?
Evaluate the outputs of your business
process – the product(s) you provide for the “downstream” process. Are
you providing the input in the right format? Often enough? Too often?
How could you make your work product better so it can better be
utilized by the recipient (whether internal or external)?
By considering the inputs and outputs
from your own business processes, you are improving operations not only
in your corner of the world, but potentially in other areas as well.
Further, you are demonstrating to others how to affect the best kind of
change – change that allows the entire organization to work more
effectively and efficiently.
Departments Are Not Unto
Making the Right Decisions