Targeted investment in technology against a plan for change: strategy comes first

20/05/2023

The key to operational excellence is understanding operational activities. You need to know what you do, how you do it, and why it matters. Once you have a clear picture of operations, technology can help make them more efficient.

One of the main ways to achieve operational excellence is to make technology work for the organization. When well structured and implemented, technology can help streamline processes and save time on routine activities. The extra time and energy can be used to focus on higher value activities that ultimately improve performance.

The key to operational excellence is understanding operational activities. You need to know what you do, how you do it, and why it matters. Once you have a clear picture of operations, technology can help make them more efficient.

Operational excellence is not just about making technology work for people though, it is also about using it to create new opportunities. For example, when you use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data and make recommendations based on it, you can act faster and get better results than if you acted manually. But technology alone is not enough. You need to know what you want and know how to use the tools available to achieve it. That means you need a clear, strategic vision for the business and put the right resources in place to make sure it happens.

The first step toward operational excellence is to identify where business processes are inefficient. This can be done by conducting a time-and-motion study or a “time and motion” analysis, which involves analyzing how and when an employee or team performs their tasks; you can conduct a process audit or a “value stream map” analysis, which involves identifying each process step and assessing its value to the customer. You can then use technology to monitor the team’s activities over time and determine whether it is working efficiently.

Once inefficiencies are identified, you need to develop a plan to address them. This might involve retraining employees, changing their responsibilities or implementing new technology. You also need to develop benchmarks (KPIs) to measure success and monitor progress over time.

After that it is time to implement the changes. Where to start? You can start by identifying common problems and brainstorming solutions with the team affected by the change. Once you have a list of solutions, you choose one or two that will have the greatest impact on the performance of the company as a whole. With this information, changes can begin to be made to eliminate waste and improve overall process efficiency. This may include, for example, streamlining process steps (eliminating redundancies) or automating certain activities.

It is quite a well-known statistic that most companies are dissatisfied with their investments in technology, generally because they lack a plan, and upstream, a strategy.

Technology makes a difference in the way the ‘organization operates and functions, but it is more than just a set of tools to help people get things done. Technology can be a powerful tool for bringing about real change, as long as you have an effective plan for using it. You need to know what you want to get out of technology, and you need to ensure that the plan is realistic and achievable.

To be effective in your organization, technology must be part of a broader strategy. The first step is to determine which aspects of the organization are most critical to its success, then create a plan based on those areas. Underlying the creation of an effective plan for using technology is an understanding of the organization’s culture and values. What does it mean for a company to be innovative? What does it mean for the team to feel empowered? How do you measure productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness?

To create a truly impactful technology strategy, you need to know what success means in the first place, and that starts with understanding the organization’s goals.

There are many ways to use technology to impact both the people within the organization, who can benefit from increased efficiency, better communication, more flexible work arrangements, and greater job satisfaction, and the external stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and partners, who can benefit from improved products, services, and interactions.

  • Automation – technology can automate repetitive or routine and time-consuming tasks, freeing up time for the team to focus on more important, high-value work
  • Communication – communication tools, not only video conferencing tools but also instant messaging for example, make it easier for teams to collaborate regardless of their physical location
  • Data analysis-processing and analyzing large amounts of data, with the aim of providing useful information for strategic decisions
  • Customer engagement – can improve the customer experience, for example through chatbots, personalized recommendations and social media interactions
  • Productivity – technology can increase productivity through project management software, time tracking applications and document management systems
  • Innovation – the use of tools can enable organizations to innovate, such as through research and development, prototyping and simulation tools
  • Flexibility – team members can be given the flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime, using mobile devices and cloud-based applications
  • Security – technology can improve security, such as through encryption, firewalls and multi-factor authentication
  • Competitive advantage – competitive advantage can be created, through products with better user experience, faster time to market and better customer service

Areas involved may include operations, marketing, customer success, human resources, and finance, among others.