South African enterprises that want to drive better operational performance from their investments into new IT systems and business processes, must focus heavily on providing their people with the context, insights, thinking and skills they need to make the most of the tools they have to do their jobs.
Once employees understand their role in the business process and the impact they have, they are able to take co-responsibility for delivering on the organisation's strategic objectives and customer promises.
Teaching employees the system
We believe that one of the major reasons that many companies struggle to realise the return on investment they want from their enterprise applications and business process re-engineering solutions, is that they rarely deliberately align their people and structure to the processes and the technology. Much of the focus is on the technical architecture of both the system and the processes rather than on the people who enable both.
In many companies, workers focus solely on their own tasks with little context, understanding or visibility into how their jobs link into the rest of the organisation's chain of business processes they remain unaware of their place within the organisation's value chain.
The result is a misalignment between people in different departments because workers have little understanding of what other people in the business are doing at an operational level. For this picture to change, workers must be given a holistic view of how the business as a whole operates and where they fit into its business processes. Most importantly they need to be able to determine the value they create for their customers and assess how they execute and create that value.
Everyone plays a part
Each person - from the most junior accounts clerk to the shop floor manager and the procurement officer - has a direct impact on organisational performance. If just one person ignores a standard procedure or policy, or takes a shortcut while doing his or her job, it can impact on the productivity and efficiency of the whole organisation and ultimately customer service.
Systems thinking has an important role in helping people to understanding their impact on other people and processes in the business - and ultimately, its profitability, efficiency and productivity. This involves deep engagement with people at every level of the organisation.
In practice, this involves a range of mechanisms, from analysis and problem solving, performance support tools, training, coaching and thought to e-learning. Perhaps the most important part is getting people from across the organisation together to share experiences and learn from one another's point of view.
Smooth process flow
The process involves getting people to ask themselves and others a range of hard questions about why and where the current business processes break down, the issues and risks they and their colleagues must manage every day, the cause of these problems (people, process, functionality etc...), what business policies and procedures govern them and those they work with, and how to release the blockages to smoother process flow.
By getting people to interact with others outside their own departments and silos, they learn more about doing their jobs in a manner that improves the efficiency of the organisation as a whole and within the context of the business objectives and business value chain. When people understand why they do what they do, and how what they do affects the business value chain, they are far more able to be accountable for their role in ensuring that the new processes and technologies that are being used in their business deliver the anticipated business benefits.
This is not about training. It's about making sure the money you have invested in business processes and IT systems delivers the value and return on investment you aimed for.
As Can!Do's managing director, Lyndsey Moorhouse oversees the delivery of high-impact ERP education solutions that help companies drive real ROI from their investments into applications. Lyndsey has been working in the ERP end-user education and change field for 20 years, 10 of those with Can!do Consulting. During this time, she has held trainer, team lead, project manager, change consultant, strategic training consultant operations management roles on a range of projects for blue-chip clients.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. Bizcommunity.com will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.