The Hard Part
A tough part about using technology to help people do their job is defining responsibilities. We all know the promise – this technology will fix the problem immediately, there is no install time and your staff does not have to change anything. It seems too good to be true – there must be a catch. Yet, we also know that we have to automate and improve or we fall behind our competition so we must use technology. Often times, technology is a part of a process. Credit card processing saves times, increases conveniences, reduces bad debt and is an essential technology for most C-Stores. Yet, even with such a proven technology, the process of managing the account, the security of the card readers and avoiding the acceptance of fraudulent users is still required to achieve the full value of the technology – the process matters. It is important to make sure those using the technology do their part to ensure the technology is used correctly.
The Catch – Process
It is important to differentiate the technology from the process. If you need a system you typically need both process and technology. Either can help, but together the technology and process make a system. With a system business can measure, maintain, and scale operations. When done correctly, both technology and process can come together to do the magic that you need – save time and get better results. The key is to sequence the work and provide the proper time, training and usage to achieve the long term results.
The Common Mistake
Technologies that have not been used before are often not clearly understood. Work that used to be done differently may not be done at all any more. The work that is replaced is part of the productivity gains. However, there is often new work that while quicker is different than before. Many times, the new work is only related to the new technology so it must be added to the old process. Unless the process includes the new work, then the overall results may not be as good or may even fail. It is not uncommon to have the very same technology that works well in one company not work as well in a different company. The difference can be the technology environment or the process being used.
The new system needs to be explained. The steps need to be demonstrated and the staff must be allowed time to learn. Setting up the environment and providing the necessary resources allows the new system to be put into place. Good execution is made easier with a project plan that covers the sequencing of installation, configuration, training and on-going support.
System Improvements Are Not
- Free of process change
- Free of learning
- Free of risks
System Improvements Are
- Gained from automating manual work
- Achieved by shifting labor to higher value tasks
- Long-Lasting by adjusting to new situations
Taking time to understand the scope of work that technology can address is helpful. Proving the change and providing examples and support can ease the transition. Communicating the benefit and providing a timeline for the change will decrease the stress of change and increase acceptance.