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The other Black Hole

People’s resistance to change is frequently the cause for change projects to grind to a halt, but do your IT systems constitute another insurmountable barrier to successful and timely change?

The IT systems that underpin an organisation’s processes can be the other ‘black hole’ that plagues change initiatives. Most change initiatives need these to be modified, upgraded or replaced, in order for the change to be implemented. But, like shifting an organisation’s culture, changing the IT systems doesn’t happen overnight. The requirement has to be specified, new systems need to be designed and implemented, and the whole cycle can take months, if not years to complete – delaying the changes, and often threatening to cost so much you end up having to find ways to work around them.

Even when you implement new systems, how often do you still end up working around them, because they don’t actually do what you need them to do? One reason for this is the time it has taken, during which everything has moved on but you haven’t been able to change the processes or the management reports available.

Another reason for the shortfall is the gap between the way you work and the standard processes embedded in the systems. Typically, from the first day you implemented your current systems – and even before – you will have had to deal with the frustration of not being able to include all the messy, less routine activities – the stuff that didn’t fit, not to mention the event-driven, ad-hoc, urgent ‘on-my-desk-by-tomorrow’ work that interferes with our planned, routine tasks. So, alongside the established systems, you will have built up a pile of ‘non-routine’ data collection, processing, analysing and reporting activities.

But that’s often the stuff which actually defines how flexible and successful you are in delighting your customers, not to mention how well you deal with your suppliers, shareholders and competitors – i.e. how profitable you are. Not the routine core processes.

That’s also where the real opportunity for improvement often lies, but traditionally the cost and difficulty in mapping, coding and implementing systems prevented us from attempting to go there.

Well, today we can go there.

We are teaming up with Eximium to deliver Procession – an agile software platform that enables you to involve managers and staff in mapping, implementing and continuously improving fully automated web-based processes on an Oracle system, in 20% of the time and cost you have been quoted.

It’s still not easy. You need to tease out the detail and map it, just like you did for the routine processes. Only this time, each ‘input-process-output’ that we map will be highly conditional on external triggers and may include stuff that only happens occasionally… So along with the new technologies we need to apply a different set of skills – the ability to find patterns in this ‘white noise’ and to include these patterns within a richer set of repeatable processes.

It’s that combination of skills and technologies that sets us apart from the average BPR (business process redesign) merchants.

Think of the benefits:

At the moment, every time you carry out an ad-hoc task, you have to adapt an existing process or reinvent it, which means you waste time and make mistakes.

And every time you finish the task and leave the output in its folder in your filing system, you have wasted an opportunity to share the process and an output that might be useful for someone else.

Conventional BPR regards such complicated, non-routine activity as ‘too difficult’ and excludes it when designing the ‘core’ systems.

But with a more versatile set of tools we can start to include this activity, working with you and your people to spot and track the patterns of repeatable processes and identify the location of data you need to share across your organisation in order to improve performance.

We then use the power of the new technology to turn that into a working prototype of your information and operating system. With our support, that’s tested and refined by your operations people – not the IT dept – with the result that not only can you start using it within just a few weeks, your people understand and own it, so it gets used.

A typical project can take less than 3 months from start to finish and cost 80% less than a conventional systems implementation. Moreover every time you undertake a new process that looks as if it might be relevant in future, you can add it, quickly and easily to the system.

Does this sound too good to be true?

It is only with the arrival of new tools and technology that we have the capability to bring Knowledge Management and BPR together and build far richer and flexible operations and information management systems, using all of the knowledge and creativity of your people:

  1. Imaginist’s Change Readiness Assessment methodology ensures that you are developing the new processes using the knowledge and creativity of your people and that you have identified and addressed the cultural barriers to change.
  2. Eximium offers BPR and process mapping skills to trap and include this richness of knowledge and activity.
  3. And we have harnessed Procession’s agile business application software platform to enable us to design and implement a set of fully integrated processes within weeks, encompassing existing ‘core’ systems and extending to include much of the formerly hard-to-automate activities, without the traditional time, cost and hassle. This system is then able to adapt and flex to accommodate refinements, changes and improvements, without the disruption and costs associated with changing a traditional information management system.

So the holy grail is in sight:

  • You need to make your routine, core processes as cost efficient and fit-for-purpose as possible…
  • You need this management information and operations system to encompass any activities that are recognised as being useful and repeatable, and whose outputs may have value beyond the initial requirement and be worth sharing…
  • You need it to integrate existing systems, functions and processes that have been stand-alone in the past…
  • You need to be able to do all this quickly and at a fraction of the cost it used to take…
  • You need to be sure that whatever changes and improvements you make are based on the knowledge and experience of your people, and are understood, accepted and used by them …
  • And, finally, you need to be able to continually refine and improve your system and flex it to meet new requirements, quickly, cost-effectively and with the least possible disruption to business-as-usual…

You can!

If you are interested in building an organisation that is capable of continuous improvement and resilient in the face of the challenges ahead, contact us.

And here are some useful links to information on Procession:

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December 21, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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