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Sunday, December 6, 2009
Hard Times Offer Chance To Improve
The headline reads "Hard times offer chance to improve through IT". The article is well written and I agree with most of it, but I have to disagree on a couple of key points. This article is in the Sunday (December 6, 2009) edition of the Honolulu Star Bulletin, written my John Agsalud.
The article starts off with a very important, and very true, point, "...it's that this is a good time for organizations to innovate and improve their business processes,..." John is right, this is the best time for organizations to make improvements. It's not only the best time, it is absolutely vital for many organizations if they are going to continue to survive. In good times, waste inevitably creeps into every organization. You're doing well, things are moving fast, you don't have time to worry about the little things. But all those little things add up over time, and even in the best of times it is important for organizations to continuously improve their Operations and drive the waste out of the system. In these tough economic times you can't afford to wait to make the improvements, you have to do it now.
The end of the above quoted sentence is where I have my disagreement; "...improve their business processes, usually through the use of technology."
The proper use of technology is very important to the Operations of an organization, and Mr. Agsalud points out many of the benefits in his article. My disagreement is that you do not always need technology, and oftentimes shouldn't use it, to make improvements to your Operations and your business processes.
There are many improvements that can be made without investing in technology. Many times simply examining the flow or steps of a process can reveal surprising insights that lead to simple changes that result in great improvements. Too many organizations (and I've seen some of them personally) immediately jump to a technology "fix" to their problems without ever even analyzing the causes of the problems in the first place. Find out what is causing you to be less than excellent, or what is causing you to perform lower than you want or expect, then craft a solution. You can decide at this point whether the solution includes the use of technology or not.
Technology has a high cost, in time, money, and other resources. You have to make sure you approach a technology implementation as an investment, and you have to be very clear on what the return on that investment will be. You also have to be very clear on what the actual and total investment is before you begin.
Use technology when appropriate. Use it to improve your organization. Just don't use it as a crutch and expect technology to help you when it's not the lack of technology that is causing your problems now.