Never ever try to put brilliant code on top of broken business processes and expect it to work!
I have repeatedly seen companies of all sizes big and small, name brands and industry leaders add “wasted“ costs anywhere between $200K and $1M before a project was finally delivered; if it got off the ground at all because they failed to prepare adequately for the changes in business process. I have also seen exciting system improvements put on hold right in the middle of the project and placed on a shelf indefinitely, having added the wasted time and expense of the project team and vendors providing no value to the client or their customers.
Why? In every single case, the business leaders/teams realized their current business processes were NOT ready for the change caused by a new system/system change. In my experience, 99% of the cases worked, there were no workflow diagrams or description of how the current processes worked. Therefore, when the new systems Consultants, Developers, and Architects begin to talk about new workflows that will evolve from the enhancements, that’s about the time that someone will realize that the current business processes are not ready for the change.
That if the system was to go live now, it would wreak such havoc and create enough confusion that it would jeopardize the current business performance and the customers would suffer.
This is an expensive “education” for the company and executives/employees involved.
Executives are always hopeful that new systems, new enhancements will immediately end their problems in the flow of everything from cars produced, customer calls answered in 20 seconds, complaints handled, widgets made, eyeballs to clicks, to coffee cups filled.
Now that the economy is better, more automation may be a necessity if volume and demand has sudden risen and is putting strain on your staff or operations.
The System Consultants are eager, ready to start their work and the organization is hungry for improvements. The expectations are set for the proverbial silver bullet to fix these problems to make things flow faster.
But stop! Before you sign on with the new technology vendor and begin the project, you need to conduct a few important steps. If you will first do the preliminary work, you will be much better prepared for what is coming. And most importantly, the teams/workgroups will be prepared with the people and processes ready to match the system introduction.
You can be a hero Here's how!
Whether it is a new add-on or a complete ERP (Enterprise level application) addition to your workplace, there are a few essential requirements to ensure a better transition for the user community and the vendors assisting in the set up.
- Put someone in charge of the project. Hopefully, there is an executive level person who is visible and dedicated almost daily through the event and the project overall.
This is especially hard to do when everybody in the workplace is needed to run the business. To manage this more effectively, bring in a trained, experienced and dedicated Project Manager/Scrum Master to take the project from start to finish (contract or an employee). In the meantime, the executive level Stakeholder or Sponsor becomes the champion and is consulted and included in major decisions and also helps to communicate the progress and navigate through the political waters across the enterprise.
- Conduct this exercise like you would a project; it has a beginning and an end.
Why is this important? People/teams need to have a sense of time along with an end date. Most of the people that will help in a project like this will (should) come directly from your workgroups who are most affected by the change so knowing when an end is expected will keep the team focused and on target through in the latter stages of the event.
- Conduct a complete value stream map of the work (people and tasks) of the area where a system function will be added.
After a project team is assembled, draw a Value Stream map of the work done by each workgroup group during the full life cycle of the work flow, from the beginning to the end. Include the time it takes to perform each step and the time in between each task in the value stream. This map should be created by the people that are doing the work, not their supervisors or managers.
- Display the map and invite the team and others into the discussion. Step back and look at the map now and evaluate the process, surgically.
- Identify the “7 deadly wastes” in the value stream map:
- Overproduction. Simply put, overproduction is to manufacture/handle an item before it is actually required.
- Waiting. Whenever goods/transactions are not moving or being processed, the waste of waiting occurs.
- Transporting anything for any length.
- Inappropriate processing.
- Unnecessary inventory/supplies.
- Unnecessary / excess motion/duplication of efforts.
- Identify the “7 deadly wastes” in the value stream map:
- Determine the “low hanging fruit” opportunities to immediately streamline and improve the current value stream by removing the areas of waste identified by the team.
Improving the current workflow is essential. Assign teams to make the improvements with a high level of prioritization with deadlines in place.
- Challenge the team to create a “future state”
Many leaders already have a vision or know the desired outcome but it is important to also include the feedback from the people that are doing the work. They are the ones who will use the systems and already know what works, what doesn’t work, what will work faster, and how to accomplish faster whenever it is required, including entering bad data to get around the roadblocks, which causes data corruption. Since this is to be avoided, find out what the Users need to make them more effective in their work using the new system.
- Merge the future state value stream requirements and the new system capabilities which can then be used to describe the functional and non functional specs that are required.
You now have what you need (at a high level) from a new system or a system change when introducing it into the workflow/workgroups. Legally and contractually, you can now spell out what is needed, detail by detail. This list can then become your punch list of final deliverables expected at the end of the project.
- Invite the vendors to respond your RFP to meet your current and future operational needs.
Confirm how their system will perfect the desired workflow (the Future State Value Stream Map).
- Build a complete project plan that incorporates the technical work timeline and the timeline for the people and process that will intersect and benefit from the system changes.
The Project Manager should merge the system’s timeline (from the IT department and/or the vendors’ timelines) into a master plan that includes the people and process timelines created by the business.
- Ensure that any change in business processes are completed or have a completion date built into the Go Live Plan.
Failure to address and resolve the current manual business processes have and will cause significant disruption to the customer experience when the system goes live. Workers are confused, transactions are delayed or incorrect, inefficiencies abound.
This will guarantee an improved implementation and adoption of any new technical solution. Build this work into the project timeline as a group of tasks with a completion date milestone.
Linda Thompson - CEO/Founder of Big Transformations. All rights reserved. 2018