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Does IT fly or hinder business?

Technology is the motor, the power that help fly business. It should provide speed, flexibility, powerful options and security. IT should in no way hinder business. If it appears that business is slowed down by IT, then business and IT alignment or integration must be reconsidered. Fortunately, that is not rocket science.

Here are five key areas to look at when looking into empowering business and creating more business and IT alignment.

Business Processes
Is everybody aware of which business we are in and how our objectives are achieved? This may sound like a dumb question, but I can tell you that it has power if it is well known.

2. Infrastructure (capacity, automation, technical processes).

Is the infrastructure capable of supporting the business adequately? Are we wasting time processing manually recurring jobs that could have been automated? Do these technical jobs processing “officially” exist?

3. Document Management and sharing

There is no excuse for lack of document management and sharing today. Still many organizations, especially international and global teams, are doing it the old way. This is an ineffective and time consuming, therefore, an expensive choice. Organizations that invest in an effective document management system, and apply it, never look back.

4. Operational procedures

As much as businesses need well defined and effective procedures, operation as well needs theirs. I don’t mean expensive brand name in a poorly customized, and barely known, organization. I mean procedures that team members apply regularly and can easily tell you, often from the top of their head if asked. Now, here is a big solution driven question to help you and your organization, “how are these procedures related to the business processes?”

5. Communication flow in the organization

When and how do businesses with IT interact, and when in the process? Can you identify more phases in the process where communication flow can be improved? I know that each party often prefers to not communicate much except for integration or validation some time later. Some believe that they will not be slowed down by the other. As much as there is truth in that, delaying communication until integration or acceptance cause more wasted time than aligning earlier in the process. Furthermore it costs more and causes more conflicts.

By improving in the above areas, you can fly business and IT to a higher level! They have worked for me and my clients over the years. I offer the complete step by step approach in a program that organizations can easily apply.

Here is more power for your organization!!!

Cost Cutting is Expensive While Effectiveness is Free and Rewarding

Heather let go of the door handle as she walked out of her superior’s office, confused and in disbelief. She took a deep breath as if to renew her strength, and she let sink in what was just asked of her. She was asked to submit her plan to reduce by 20% her department’s budget and still deliver the department’s services and ongoing projects for the year.

She looked at Justin, who preceded her from the meeting. Justin received the same assignment. He walked at a slow pace, before turning half-way toward Heather to start a conversation.

“How in the world can we make this happen without compromising the many ongoing and high priority projects? That’s not realistic. How are you going to do it Heather?”

To which Heather answered. “I don’t know yet but what I know is that my team is very busy day after day with short deadlines, and reducing headcounts will surely causes more delays in service delivery.”

This happened about one year ago. Both Heather and Justin got to work to deliver their assignments.

Justin’s Approach

Justin submitted his cost-cutting plan for his department on time as requested. The following was a summary of his proposition, which was designed to be fully effective in 3 months’ time. Let go of 3 external consultants and then redistribute their work.
Five full-time employees would be terminated and their work also redistributed.
The priority order of several deliveries would be modified.
Most project-delivery dates to be postponed to later dates.
Extras, such as free access to the coffee machine for the employees, would be suppressed. The vending machines would stay in the building and employees would pay for their own drinks.
Quarterly team activity was to be eliminated.
As a result Justin’s plan would reduce costs by 20% in 3 months, and the delivery schedule would be modified.

The plan was accepted and implemented in Justin’s department.

Heather’s Approach

Heather acknowledged that she was operating with only the bare essentials after she had already cut so much during the last five years. So she reached out and asked me if I could help. I then asked Heather more info about the department, their business, and technical operations. We agreed that we needed more time to deliver a sustainable cost reduction plan. Therefore, Heather negotiated and was granted another month before submitting her plan.

During that time, we reviewed the business and technical processes, the tools used, the organization structure, teams, the roles, and the outside collaboration in Heather’s department. We worked with the team leaders to find answers for many questions. Together, we analyzed every aspect of her department to create more efficiency throughout.

Her proposition could be summarized as such:

Several business processes were to be either shortened, improved or suppressed and five new business processes were created.
Three technical processes were to be optimized, then automated.
Two positions were to be eliminated and ten others modified.
Two services were to make use of one existing tool instead of the two exactly similar ones they were each using, reducing maintenance cost, licensing fees and duplicate work.
New rules were to be defined for more effectiveness.
Coaching sessions to be delivered to several teams as they adopted the new work approach.
As a result, the department would increase delivery capacity by 15% while reducing cost by 18% over a 6-month period.

Heather’s proposition was accepted and implemented for her department.

Post Implementation One Year Later:

Justin’s Department

Justin had a harsh time implementing the plan in his department as it caused more stress, conflicts and dissatisfaction in the organization while decreasing production. Employee morale went down and has remained there, since there is no improvement to look forward to.

The elimination of free coffee and their quarterly get-together created for them an environment of lack, poor recognition, decreased collaboration, and decreased in reliability.

The clients were very disappointed with the delayed deliveries. To make matter worse, they experienced a high turnover rate, causing them to be even further behind in project delivery.

Heather’s Department

Heather’s department is now running effectively and delivering more, at a faster rate than before, and at a lesser cost. In fact, after the implementation and up to the present day, the cost is now reduced by 22%.

Cost reduction should be a search for improved effectiveness first. Approaching cost cutting as a search-and-destroy mission to cut all extras or reducing only the immediately apparent costs just decreases productivity and therefore ends up costing the company more per production.

How many processes, tools, and roles are outdated, duplicated, irrelevant, and/or repetitive in our units? How about the ones that no one know ‘why’ they exist? Or the multiple tools that our teams use when just a few of these tools can be used by more or all of the teams? How many manual processes can be automated?

In summary, cost reduction is costly, but effectiveness is free as it pays for itself with increased productivity. The good news is that each one of us at our own levels can create some more effectiveness.

Do you need help for creating more effectiveness? Contact me and let’s do it!

M. Nadia Vincent