Which comes first: process improvement or technology implementation?

June 19, 2008

The title is a quote from John Soat on Information Week (Canada), the quote continues

If you answered the former, congratulations, you are well on your way…

This people, process, then technology focus is a concept that I have attempted to articulate in many places on this blog.

In another article by Jack and Patti Phillips at Inc.com;

New projects, programs, or tools are implemented because some business measure is not doing so well. Maybe there are too many customer complaints, there are too many shipment errors, it’s taking too long to process an order, we have excessive absenteeism, or we have low productivity in a particular area. These are business issues and they are all defined by business measures.

The key takeaway here is that these issues are first and foremost process and business issues. As such they require business measurements,processes and metrics; not technology ones. Once the business measures are in place – technology implementations can assist in reducing the time to process that order, or to improve that productivity.

But it is critical to identify the business measures and processes first. This will enable you to find out why that order is taking too long, or why there are too many shipment errors.

If it takes too long to process your orders because a staffer cannot be bothered to follow the “rules” or there are no rules (or processes) then throwing technology at it will not help. However, if it takes too long to process your orders because there are too many orders to manually write, or the manual step of looking for the inventory to pack and ship is killing you – then automating parts of the process can help.

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