Today’s stage we are going to tackle the final stage of the Leverage Region. Stage 28 is focused on using Technology to improve efficiencies and consistencies in your business. This is an important stage in building leverage into your business. Important from two aspects – the absolute impact that technology can have on your processes and also the investment required to introduce technology into your system.
Let me begin by being clear that Technology is not always the best answer to improving the processes in your business. Many business owners look to technology first, rather than doing everything possible to improve processes without using technology. When the technology solution is introduced too early, the outcome is often “locks in” a bad process.
When you use technology, you are often times simply hard-wiring the process that is currently used in the business. What if that process that is being used has not been optimized? What if there are flaws in your current processes? What if your processes are not as efficient as they should be? If any of these situations are true, then you are simply hard-wiring those flaws and inefficiencies into your business.
Rather than start with the technology first, I suggest you spend time mapping out your current critical processes. I’d recommend doing this with a team of people using the tried and true, low-tech method of sticky notes. Once you have your current process mapped on the wall, ask everyone to step back from the sticky notes and identify all of the areas where the process is currently inefficient, has waste, incurs delays, where costs are high and where too many people are required.
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Work from your sticky note wall to redesign your process on paper first. Allow everyone to share his or her views, opinions, perspectives and suggestions. Take everything into account.
Don’t think you know everything – because often times you do not. Bring a cross-section of people into your process mapping exercise to ensure their buy-in and acceptance of any changes that you make. Once you have identified improvements, take the time to “prove them out”. Not weeks and months, but hours or maybe days.
Only once you have gone through these steps should you entertain the thought of a technology solution. Remember, once you make the investment in technology, you will be “living” with your decision for a long time, maybe not because you want to, but because you will feel the need to due to the financial investment required in the technology.
With your new process map in hand, you are in a better position to know exactly what functions and features you will need in your technology solution. You will be able to measure the outcomes more effectively and will know the outcomes with more certainty.
So here is your assignment for this stage:
● Find one of the critical processes in your business that you believe could be a game-changer if you introduced a technology improvement.
● Gather the key players who are familiar with this process into a process mapping session.
● Map the current process on the wall using sticky notes.
● Identify improvements that can and should be made.
● Test the new process ideas over a short period of time.
● Revise the process map.
● Use the new process map as your specification tool for the technology solution.
Go through this sequence at least once. Technology solutions can set you apart, but you must follow a protocol to ensure you are making a wise investment and not simply a hasty expenditure. Good luck with using this methodology.
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