Most of our clients become familiar and comfortable with dysfunction before finally deciding to do something about it.
It’s not that they don’t care or don’t want to make things better. It’s just that they have gotten used to it and found ways to succeed despite their dysfunctions. As an outsider, some of the workarounds strike me as surprising, humorous or shocking. But to the organization, it’s just the way it is and has been for a long time.
Although we see our share of surprises, most operational and organizational dysfunctions follow similar patterns. The breaking point only happens after these patterns become unsustainable and leadership realizes that their businesses won’t scale to their organizational goals. That’s when they decide it’s time to break the bad habits, begin business process reengineering and implement enterprise software to improve their operations.
Below are five of the most common, bizarre business processes that organizations hire us to weed out during their digital transformation and ERP software initiatives:
1. Legacy, homegrown spreadsheets and databases. Just about every organization has that one underground, below-the-radar spreadsheet or database that is being used to hold everything together. For some companies, it’s many more than just one. There is typically one person maintaining that spreadsheet on their local computer with no visibility beyond that. The team holds their breath and hopes that the machine doesn’t crash or the file becomes corrupt. You may not want to admit it – or you may not be aware – but your organization probably has several examples of this.
2. Managing your business with tribal knowledge. Just as employees will create and use spreadsheets to compensate for the weaknesses of your technologies and business processes, some employees act as knowledge bottlenecks. They understand the nooks and crannies of your business, but this knowledge isn’t typically documented or shared with anyone. If anything happens to that employee, the company will be in a world of hurt. This hoarding of tribal knowledge isn’t always intentional (though sometimes it is a way for employees to make themselves more indispensable), but regardless of the cause, it is highly inefficient and is not scalable.
3. Departments that don’t communicate well with each other. Even the smallest companies have the tendency to create silos and fiefdoms among different departments and workgroups. Communication breaks down, things get lost in translation and teams become misaligned – largely due to operational and technological immaturity. Improved technology, such as ERP systems, can help break down those barriers and enable more effective communication and coordination between departments of even the largest companies.
4. Relying on guesswork as your primary source of business intelligence. When systems are outdated and business processes are broken, useful and accurate business intelligence can be hard to find. But decisions still must be made regardless. You know that spreadsheet or ad hoc report may not be accurate, but you still make your decisions to the best of your ability. This is a tough way to run your business, but digital transformation efforts will help take the guesswork out of your job.
5. Watching competition pass you by. Regardless of how successful or profitable your organization is, there is a decent chance that one or more of your competitors are leapfrogging you on the technological front. The bad news is that these competitive advances take a while to show up in your financial or market share results, so I wouldn’t recommend waiting until you know you’ve already been lapped by a competitor. By then, it’s probably too late to catch up.
Does any of this sound familiar to your organization? If so, please contact us to conduct a free assessment of your operations to see if or how digital transformation might make your business processes less bizarre.