As we work with companies to help them accelerate their business, we are often asked to look at their current technology, staffing, and how to improve the technology. We’ve found the best way to do this is to start by taking a step back and asking what the business goals are – this will determine the long-term technology direction in accelerating business. Frankly, this is true of any organization and in any business. Education, non-profit, or commercial enterprise – one of the first things I mention to them during our consultative engagements is that Every Leader is a Technology Leader. Yeah, that get’s their attention.
No matter the industry, organizations are now recognizing that technology is driving experiences. Whether it is a customer experience, an employee experience, or a student experience, those experiences are what fuel the mission of your organization and therefore becomes the catalyst for changing the mindset that technology can no longer be viewed as a cost center, but as a critical asset to your overall strategy in accelerating business.
When we begin looking at their business objectives, current practices, and pain points, we often find systems that aren’t being fully utilized and/or systems that have been so customized that they become unworkable. Most times this has nothing to do with the underlying technology, but rather organizational issues that have not been addressed. For example:
- Employees who haven’t been trained properly to use the system, resulting in many different methods for using it. This results in inefficiency, incorrect data being entered, and reporting that doesn’t match from department to department.
- Inadequate resources assigned to support systems and train end users.
- Enterprise level decisions that have been postponed because someone’s process will need to change (for example, different departments measuring the same metric in different ways, rather than one version of the truth).
- Unwillingness to change to processes to make them more efficient because “we’ve always done it that way”.
- Belief that our way is better than our competitors, especially around what I call commodity or industry standard processes that don’t add value to the customer (order processing, financial accounting, customer service requests).
Communication between departments is critical – does your technology team actively seek out and listen to business units’ goals and objectives and then suggest technology that can help? When problems occur with your network or a specific application, does your technology team inform you of what went wrong and how it can be prevented in the future? Has your technology team been made aware of all of the projects going on in your organization so they can provide assistance?
Implementing technology requires clear communication and decisions to be made about your business objectives – technology is there to support and help accelerate your business plans. Often we find that the missing link is simply inviting the technology team to the party. Don’t leave them outside in the cold. On the flip side, if you represent the technology team, remember, not everyone is technical, so keep that in mind when discussing your ideas about how you plan to deliver a solution to a business problem.
Need help? Not sure where to start? The Hammer Tech Consulting Team can help uncover communication and organizational development issues as well as facilitate actions to improve these issues. Technology is often the easy part – once common decisions are made around business objectives. Find out more about our framework for accelerating business.