Make Business Process Realignment a Part of Every Technology Project

Do you ever wonder if your organization gets work done in spite of the rules, systems and processes that they have to follow?  I have been out working with clients for the last month and have heard and seen many people talking about this subject.  Based on a conversation that I had with a colleague and Performance Consultant, Dr. Karen McGraw, I wanted to share some thoughts on process realignment.

Business processes are an important part of the way work gets done. On many of our projects we are called on to implement not only the technology, but also to re-align business processes. Now these are the smart clients. They understand that implementing a new technology changes the way that people get their jobs done.

In many cases, new technologies subsume or change old processes. For example, at my last company, when we implemented InfoPath forms and automated processes in SharePoint, we create workflows based on the most effective ways to complete the process. SharePoint now orchestrates what previously was a manual process. The reviewers and approvers may be the same. But the way they receive the document or request, how they respond to it, and how it moves to the next reviewer changes.

In other cases the new technology we implement presents the opportunity to revise related business processes.  Some clients choose to use the new technology and simply keep the old work process. These clients often reason that even some change (the technology) is enough – they fell like buying a new set of clothes will help the person get the job done better.  However, this reasoning often results in a misalignment between what the technology can do for them and how they currently work.  By failing to realign business processes to include and build on the functionality provided by their (new or even existing) technology, they get less value from their technology than they could.

During the recession and post-recession recovery, we find ourselves being asked to help our clients “do more with less”.  To find ways to accomplish this you use a methodology like the Performance DNA methodology to conduct tool optimization projects and identify ways to better align new or existing technologies with the organization’s business processes.  I am always surprised to find that organizations spend considerable money on technology (Hardware and Software), but that the technology implementations have rarely examined the impact on business processes or even the training needed to take advantage of a better process.

How much more value could a tool provide the organization if processes were better aligned to take full advantage of what the tool could do? How much more productive would organizations be if all technology projects included realignment of business processes and training on how to apply the process using the tool?

So do you try to include process realignment on your projects?  How are your processes and tools working in your organization?

3 Responses to “Make Business Process Realignment a Part of Every Technology Project”

  1. TBoehm30 Says:

    Hacking Work: Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results
    It talks about breaking the rules to get the job done, but do it responsibly. Some rules are good, and some rules are bad. Either way, some rules need to be broken.

  2. Bruce McGraw Says:

    Thanks Todd – I have certainly seen a lot of dumb rules. And for some reason the finance and contract groups in most companies have a large % of them! All organizations need to review their processes from time to time to make sure that the ones they are using are not bad.

  3. Top 25 Engineering Management Blogs of 2012 Says:

    […] with: Make Business Process Realignment a Part of Every Technology Project for a look at McGraw’s ability to weave the technical and logistical aspects of his job […]

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