Focus on process first, then find the technology tools to solve identified problems.
The right technology solution applied to problems provides benefits, so it’s imperative that your information technology keep pace with your business growth. The key to performing at your highest potential is
to invest in solutions that have the highest return on investment.
While it’s important to first ensure that your basic business technical foundation (i.e., telephone, data service, e-mail, data backups, etc.) is sound and dependable, the technologies that will provide the most benefit to your bottom line are those solutions that directly support the value chain in your particular business.
Evaluate the Value Chain
In your business model, there is one process-and sometimes many processes-that create the value chain for your business. The value chain is the touch points in your business process that generate value to the customer, while the value is the deliverables of your business that those customers are willing to pay for. The highest return on investment is achieved when technology solutions are
applied to improve the value chain.
Examples of technology applied to improving the value chain include:
Improvement in order accuracy and throughput, resulting in better and faster customer communication and delivery of product.
Improving inbound customer contact service, resulting in an immediate voice with the right knowledge and increasing customer satisfaction and retention.
Improvement in quote turnaround time, resulting in competitive advantage and increased sales closure rates.
By starting with the value chain of the business process as the focal point, the investment in the technology solution is maximized.
Identify Growth Needs
In order to make the right technology investment to meet the needs of your growing company, you first must understand those needs. Take a moment and make a list of the segments of your business operation you know are impeding your profitability or ability to retain, acquire or fulfill new business. Next to each of those segments write a keyword for the parts of the value chain needing improvement. For example, this might be “communication,” “errors,” “inventory,” “throughput” or “dependencies.” Now you have a roadmap of the business problems to strategically address.
When evaluating solutions for value chain problems, look for a solution that solves multiple value chain problems. For example, if steps in your value chain have problems because of process orchestration, communication and collaboration, implement technology that improves those functions across the organization.
In the evaluation process, avoid starting with the tool and then figuring out what to do with it. For example, you wouldn’t go to the hardware store and buy the newest and shiniest tool, and then look around for a way to use it. One typically goes to the store with a problem and a potential solution in mind, and then searches for the best tool to solve the problem. Common technology project disasters can be avoided by focusing on the process and not the stated benefits of a tool or piece of technology.