Why Technology isn’t the Only ‘Ology’ you Need to Smooth Enterprise-Level Business Process Pain Points
At Novitex, we offer solutions that address some of the trickiest document management, production, and dissemination pain points that plague the modern enterprise in its communication efforts – external and internal.
When working with a new client to address their unique communication pain points, we share with them our philosophy that a simple injection of technology into any business process architecture likely is not enough to fully alleviate the pain points that the process in question had previously been causing. Many times when managers attempt to solve these complex communication workflow issues on their own, there’s only a focus on technology – which causes solutions to fall short of their goals. But in fact, a combination of well-trained people, thoughtfully-designed process, and the appropriate application of useful, necessary technology is the only approach that will create sustainable, optimized, and highly effective and efficient business processes.
While we have been champions of the people, process, and technology approach to tackling business process architecture problems since our inception, it appears that we are not the only ones who feel this way. At the recent Xploration® International Conference, a leading event for customer communications professionals and enterprises – the concept of ‘ologies’ was widely discussed. In particular, what the thought leaders in the communications space were discussing was that not only technology, but also methodology, and even psychology – are the other keys to improving business processes.
Considering those discussions from the conference, and our own philosophy for business process improvement that mirrors those conversations closely, here’s why, when it comes to business process best practices, technology isn’t the only ‘ology’ you need to inspire enterprise-level business process change.
The Purely Technological Approach to Problem-Solving
When we begin designing and implementing a solution for a new client, we go on-site, and work very closely with management – looking for the core of the problems they are experiencing. Often, clients are a bit disappointed that a simple, pure injection of technology won’t solve all their issues. But to truly get to the core of their issues and turn them into operational strengths – business process reengineering, and even personnel retraining may be required to do away with all pain points the enterprise is experiencing.
Technology, in almost all cases where managers are unsatisfied with results of a certain business process, is only one business process component that in concert with others, forms the total issue. Here’s why.
Technology can make the work easier, but it cannot make your employees themselves more efficient – that requires specialized training, quality recruiting and screening practices, and active management. Also, technology can’t make your employees, or your disparate departments, communicate with one another. That requires standardized, codified processes that are clearly established and well-known. And lastly, it cannot make up for a shortage of resources. No amount of technology can make up for the shortcomings of an understaffed department – no matter how much certain pieces of technology can streamline processes and make them easier for your employees.
Solving business process problems in a sustainable manner that creates long-lasting changes to produce the types of improved results in terms of efficiency, output, and results that management wants requires a more inclusive approach – as opposed to just injecting more technology. While technology is part of it, a holistic solution to any business pain point incorporates people, process, and technology.
A More Holistic Approach
While the conversations at Xplor had labeled the three areas that must be addressed to improve business process as ‘technology, methodology, and psychology’, we put it a bit simpler at Novitex. We are champions of a holistic approach to business processes improvement that we refer to as a ‘people, process, and technology’ approach.
This is because, for all the reasons listed previously – simply injecting new technology into a problematic business process will not address all the issues it causes. You must look at the process and people involved in completing these tasks as well.
To address process issues, Novitex takes a Six Sigma evaluation approach to each business process we are asked to evaluate. Six Sigma is a method of business process evaluation that was developed by Nokia engineers in the 1980s, and made famous by GE CEO Jack Welch in the 1990s. These optimized processes have helped companies save billions of dollars since their development, by clearly defining the goals of a given business process, analyzing the problems, and ultimately, improving and controlling the workflow so that it produces more positive results, less errors, and increases revenue.
Despite all these benefits, Six Sigma is most important to Novitex Solution Architects because it can be applied to any function in any business; so it serves as a uniform, best-in-class evaluation method we can apply across the broad range of verticals we serve, and solutions we offer.
Once the issues with process are addressed, the right technologies can be inserted into the right parts of the process, to create the most harmonious, effective result. As opposed to simply injecting technology into existing business processes, re-engineering them from the ground up allows us to transform process architecture – because usually, the wrong technology is only one component of the problem. But when approached from a holistic, business-process-first approach – the root causes of issues can be thoroughly addressed, instead of masked with technological band-aids.
Bringing it All Together
Once the right processes and technologies are in place, you can train your employees accordingly – effectively closing the people, process, and technology loop, and producing the desired results from the process in question. Problems within business processes are often closely linked – the technology might not be meshing with the realities of the process they are included in, as just one example of the shortcomings of viewing workflow issues through the sole lens of technology. So, addressing them from a purely technological standpoint often leads to continued frustration.
But when you take a step even further back, and evaluate and re-engineer the entire architecture of the business process, including the personnel training and technology involved in it, even the largest of operational pain points can be alleviated. It just might take more than new machinery or software platforms to make it so.