People, Process,,, When Technology?

April 14, 2008

On this blog, you have seen me define how critical Technology can be, then in another post say not to bother with technology.

I promise that there is a reason!

So – In the Small Business space, why and when should you consider investing money in more technology?

It is really no different than hiring a junior clerk or assistant when you find that too much senior (and more expensive) staff time is being wasted on certain less important tasks. You don’t hire that junior staff member until you identify what the problem is.

Look at this quote from the CIO Magazine print edition March 15 2008;

“…accounts payable department can process 20% more invoices per day..”

That is the key. You have the right people and processes in place to run your business and service your customer base. However then you get to the point where you are losing efficiency due to manually performing tasks. That is the time to look at the improvements in those processes that technology can bring.

What might these inefficiencies look like?

You find that your time from order to customer delivery has grown too long. You have the product, but you find that writing out manifests and confirming orders as they get loaded on the truck keeps the truck in the bay too long, meaning fewer deliveries per day. Can a technology investment automate these manifests and orders letting that truck clear the bay quicker?

You find that the number of accurate and on time sales orders is falling. The old way was a sales staffer writing down the order and customer and passing it on. With growth, the handwritten notes are either getting lost, or customer A was shipped part of customer B’s order. Can a technology investment automate the this order cycle?

This post, Don’t Automate Broken Processes has an excellent example as well.

So the reason for my contradictory appearing posts is;

1) Yes technology can accelerate and improve business process in the SMB space

2) BUT – you must have the people and processes in place and working first. Like the junior clerk example above, once you identify the problem, you can look at the technology to improve it.

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3 Responses to “People, Process,,, When Technology?”

  1. elliotross Says:

    Thank you so much for your comment Glenn!

    Even in smaller organizations – too often the ‘technology’ is a hoped for silver bullet

    But technology implemented to automate a broken business process …

    Well – value is limited!

    Best Regards


  2. Glenn Whitfield Says:


    So true – I just wish more people would follow this advice. EVERYONE I talk to about it nods their head and agrees people and process come first, but few actually do it in practice. I think they either convince themselves, or are convinced by a software company that they are looking at people and process first before technology.

    Improving people and process is hard, and a lot less ‘sexy’ than shiny new technology. People don’t like hard….

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