How to make changes through Integrated Process, People and Technology?
All too often, technology change and investment is seen as the solution to delivering step-change improvements in cost and or service performance. While the use of technology, whether systems, automation or a combination of both, has an important role to play in any company’s change and investment plans, the associated process and people changes are far too often overlooked – leading to frustration through under-delivery of performance benefits.
With the obvious austerity pressures that many businesses now face, cost reducing technologies can be a very attractive option, but if employees are not sufficiently trained to use the technology correctly or do not follow the new required processes, such investments can be wasted and actually result in a dilution of service levels.
Arguably, too often the sequence of change adopted is:
Technology selected then People are told to use it but with insufficient training or explanation then Process changes are identified and people expected to change from their old way of working to the new ones.
A better option would be to understand fully why and where Processes can or need to change to drive benefits, communicate effectively with People to outline what they need to do to make such changes happen and then select the most appropriate Technology solution to make it happen.
Process reviews, ideally covering end-to-end operations to understand better the dependencies and implications of changes should aim to simplify, integrate and improve both efficiency and effectiveness. The combination of more lean / efficient processes and being more agile to be customer effective is a powerful one and when done correctly can identify big improvement opportunities.
Supporting applications, such as benchmarking, maturity profiling and cost or time waterfall construction can all support the challenging of established processes and help to identify where change is required.
The people implications then need to be understood in terms of skills needed, training required and overcoming the usual resistance and barriers to change. Communicating the need for change and consulting with those to be affected are critical steps to obtaining acceptance of proposals as well as ideal opportunities for refining and improving ideas. People will always change more readily if they feel they have been consulted beforehand, have been listened to and contributed to the new way of working.
The most appropriate technology option can then be assessed and selected for maximizing the benefits from the process changes required that are to be delivered by people. Whatever the technology selected, be that systems or equipment solutions, there is always a choice of options to be considered. Selection criteria must be agreed and used to cover both today’s needs and the most likely future requirements over the planned life of the investment.
Embedding change successfully for sustainable business performance benefits is a challenging issue for many organisations – but if the correct sequence and balance of the three key areas of process, people and technology is adopted, the probability of a successful outcome is much greater.
The Logistics Business has been engaged by many of its clients to implement recommendations and designs, so is an experienced advocate of this important approach to delivering beneficial change.