Hint: It’s Not The Technology
“I don’t need sleep, I need answers. I need to determine where, in this swamp of unbalanced formulas, squatteth the toad of truth.” Sheldon (played by actor Jim Parsons), The Big Bang Theory
There are a lot of things required to have good outcomes, including balance and truth, when designing and implementing new technology. A new or upgraded contract. Security. Testing.
Process engineering should be a default requirement also. Working with a variety of organizations, I come across situations regularly where process design (or re-design) would have greatly improved the outcome.
- Bottlenecks. Wait time, or more accurately waste time, in a workflow because of a chokepoint with a certain person or unit. It’s like that one annoying merge we all experience during our morning commute despite the expensive new overpass design. The system is more attractive and easier to use but you still don’t get to the office any faster. From expense approvals to supply chain, it’s important to identify and resolve bottlenecks to truly create efficiencies.
- Unnecessary steps. Processes become like cow paths. Humans tread them because we’re used to them. A relevant example is a review of hundreds of reports, some in place for well over a decade, that were identified as necessary when moving to a contemporary analytics solution. Analysis of the report usage found rarely used information and redundant reports. This analysis, couple with the easier “on demand” nature of the analytics solution eliminated the need for most of the reports and freed up time for sophisticated informatics work.
- Legacy stickiness. A review of a portfolio uncovered a duplicative ERP system, used by a few units. The executives of those units had resisted moving to the new system, not because they were recalcitrant, but because no-one had taken the time to analyze the processes dependent on the legacy ERP, and show them how they could have better processes and a contemporary system. (And save some money by retiring the legacy system and its creaky on-premise infrastructure.)
Lean expertise applied through process engineering can identify bottlenecks, outdated cowpaths, and effectively persuade people that they can let go of the legacy.
“Small disciplines repeated with consistency lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” John Maxwell
Prepare for the advent of the mobility ecosystem. This article by Deloitte University Press explains that companies associated with the automotive industry need to “shift from a model focused on products (the vehicle), to one based on mobility experiences.” The domino affect, from drivers’ licenses to car insurance, is staggering.
Did my own micro-process engineering related to parking at a commonly used airport. Figured out that by parking two levels up from where I typically go, I can zero in on a space faster and get to the terminal about four minutes quicker. #frequentflyer happiness.