Leverage the Full Potential of Your Technology : Address the Operational Levers
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In the mid-90s a large multinational was one of the first companies to rollout a global HR management system. I met the team which implemented this HR system and had discussions with their IT team. The company were still in the EDP era and the system was being a possible central processing system and the workflow potential was not being put to use. Documents were being printed out at different stages of the workflow and the senior management were reviewing and communicating their decisions manually. The IT team was then updating these decisions in the system. It was a clear case of implementation of informational technology, without addressing necessary changes to the processes, people skills and structure.
Acceptance was not easy
The senior management, I was told at that point of time in that company, still preferred dictating their emails and therefore they were clearly not comfortable working on a workflow based management process. Again this was a case of not working on the change management required to get their buy-into the new way of working.
Implementing any new Information Technology will immediately have a domino effect on all the operational levers, process, people, structure and other operations.
Leveraging the full potential of technology would therefore require all operational levers to be effectively addressed and aligned.
Implementation of IT in those early days:
In one of the instances at a large multi-business company, the implementation of information technology involved not only reengineering of processes, redefining roles and structure, reskilling and training people, but also 36 parallel projects including reduction of vendors, redesigning shop floor and reducing the SKUs. It also involved extensive change management involving key stakeholders at all stages to take the ownership of the changed operations. The company could realise the potential of the technology only with these wide ranging changes. The objectives of the company’s investment into the technology would not been achieved had the implementation been limited to only technology dimension.
Innovation and this generation:
In the recent times, I have met several very promising start-ups with solutions for health care, fleet management, banks and infrastructure management. The products they have developed are very impressive and have potential to deliver high value to their clients. While reviewing their go-to market and implementation experiences, I realised that they are limiting their approaches to technical dimension and not addressing the rest of the operational levers.. This is indeed limiting their ability to deliver the full potential of their products. admit that the client is not fully leveraging the potential of their product.
Many start-ups in the early phase are focused on the product development and at best have built abilities to deploy the solution technically. As discussed, in the article I believe they would need capabilities to ensure all operational levers are addressed. In addition, effective change management of all the key stakeholder would be essential. While partnerships with right consulting and other implementation partners would help in this context, the start-up must have strong internal capabilities to supervise and manage such partners. In my opinion, start-ups should ensure that the ownership of the client and the relationship is managed by them. Strong relationship management would require ability to guide the customer in understanding and making decisions around leverage of their product.