From the time the innovative General Hannibal implemented new technology (elephants) to enhance his ability to wage war, technology improvements affect the way we do things. Unfortunately, some technology adoptions have had piecemeal, rather than strategic approaches. To quote a new colleague (discussing a recent company who is looking for a new accounting system), “they currently have a Franken-system”, a monster of mish-mashed technologies that absorb vast resources and lull an organization into thinking that technology is addressing its real needs.
Today, executives who seek organizational improvement naturally rush to technology, often with unrealistic expectations. I recently met with the CFO of a large organization who complained that he did not know how revenues were specifically generated “out there” in the operational side of his organization. He could not say what departments were efficient, what revenues related to what expenses, and whether or not certain products and services were making or losing money. He was determined to find a quick fix technology solution that considered only the financial aspects of the problem. Alas, I could offer no magic bullet, and I’m certain that by now another vendor has offered him a “solution” to his problem.
Fortunately, another recent conversation has a different ending. This prospective client knew in a visceral sense that their department managers were individually trying to get the best processes and technology to solve their problems, but they sensed that there was no “overall guiding strategy” for cohesive organizational technology. Instead of focusing on financial software to solve their issues, we recommended a strategic evaluation of their processes and systems as they related to their mission. Together we are now in the final stages of their technology improvement evaluation.
Integrative Technology Improvement (IPI) is the idea whose time has come. IPI is a process-centric, systematic, top-down approach to technology adoption. IPI is intended to improve the capability of an organization to gain insight and manage its technology at all levels by engaging stakeholders, managers, staff, and suppliers within an integrated technology environment.
Ultimately, IPI involves technology, but in the context of a systematic and unblinking assessment of real organizational processes. IPI begins by discovering, defining, and recording existing management metrics, organization rules, participant roles and management information (collectively known as the business processes) and linking them to one another to form a single, consistent representation of how the organization actually operates.
The common flaw in most technology improvement strategies of the past is that they dealt with organizations as vertical functional silos. Silo thinking creates managers who don’t often understand, at a sufficient level of detail, how their organizations get products developed, made, sold and distributed. The reality is, however, that granular work processes occur between these functional silos, much more than most organizations realize.
A key to IPI is to understand cross-departmental processes that create products and services and how management and the front line employees manage these processes across this “White Space”. According to Rummler and Brache, (1995), White Space is the areas of process between organizational silos. Think of it as the stuff inside the organization but outside of the organizational chart boxes. Managing this White Space, defining granular cross functional processes, defining these processes as they relate to shareholders and customers, and creating tools to measure these processes is critical to holistically improving organizational processes.
Using IPI to structure any technology adoption plan forces us to see the organization’s processes as interrelated and intricately connected to the ultimate service or product, to make the technology project have business impact. The IPI analysis looks at the process level, the management level, and the organizational level and defines how these are aligned. Only an IPI analysis can create an alignment of technology adoption to create an efficient and effective organization.
Want to know more? Contact Steve at 301.360.0001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
STEVE HAMMETT | Senior Sales Executive
Steve graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore, with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), in Economics and a few years later, a Master of Science (M.S.), in Information Technology. He has helped organizations for over fifteen years to solve business problems using technology. He is well informed with all Microsoft Business Solutions and is a Solutions Certified Sales Representative. For fun he looks to the outdoors, whether water, where he is a sailor (Coast Guard certified in Costal Piloting and Navigation), a PADI certified scuba diver, and a certified Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, or land, where he is a skier, hiker and mountain biker.