Business transformation is heady stuff, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the experience. If you find yourself in that position today, or you are planning a transformation project in the future, here are a few guidelines to stop the feeling that the walls are closing in.
First, let’s clarify the term itself. Of the many definitions of the word “transformation,” the most accurate one for our purposes is:
To make the future course of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.
What that transformation looks like will vary among organizations, but the bottom line is still the same: the company at the back end is going to look different than the company at the front end of this process. A simple example is that of a company transforming from one that is filled with manual or labor intensive processes into one that is agile with real-time technology and processes. The transformed business can change quickly where needed to function more efficiently and competitively.
Another transformation example could be a shift in overall company functionality. This could be a machine manufacturer evolving from a production focus into a maintenance and repair (M&R) business model. In a case such as this the company has to transform in an efficient, effective, and orderly way in order to avoid some pretty serious growing pains.
To guide the business transformation, whatever it may be, your company needs to look closely at the three critical pieces most important to its success: people, processes, and technology. If you are going to achieve the goal of an efficient, effective, and orderly transformation, a department by department deep dive into each of the three is essential.
Business transformation is not only about individuals, it is an analysis of the roles they play. As the company moves through this process, the roles required to operate in the new paradigm will also evolve.
The company overall needs to determine what roles will still be needed in the transformed company, what new roles will be required, how best to fill the roles, and finally how to help their people (individuals) transition into those roles.
As with roles, processes will change. Some processes will move as is to the newly transformed environment, some with change, others won’t, and still others will be created to fit the new business model.
The company will have to assess all current processes and decide whether to move forward with them. Again, this is done department by department to assure nothing is overlooked. After the current processes have been reviewed, you can look for process gaps: areas where new processes need to be created to manage business in the new world.
While it is often the first thing we think about when looking into the eyes of a transformation project, the technology strategy should be shaped by the people (roles) and processes that will occupy the transformed company. In other words, before building the ERP evaluation, get the rest of the house on a firm foundation. Using your roles and processes as a guide will help keep you on the right path of software selection.
Of course no ERP system is going to be a 100% fit with the requirements. While enterprise systems should be utilized out-of-the-box to the maximum extent, this isn’t always possible in order to maintain your company’s core benefits. Where there are process conflicts you will have 3 choices: change to fit the software, customize to tailor the functionality, or you can add additional software to work in tandem with your system to better fit the way you do business. Which of these options you choose wile depend on the important of the need to your unique environment, including your ability to maintain the adjustment.
Transforming a business is a no-kidding proposition, and this post only touches the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be done to achieve an efficient, effective, and orderly success. But truthfully, you can’t get to the rest of the iceberg without starting somewhere, and that small bit peaking out of the deep expansive ocean is a good place to start.
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