Business Tag

Thank you for checking out Part 2 of 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series.  If you’re just tuning in, check out Part 1 – The Good Ole Days, where we introduced the pre-Digital Revolution concept of work and how it fundamentally transformed with the introduction of digital technology. Today, we explore 2 phases of Enterprise Work Management that aimed to address the challenges of modern work but didn’t quite get us there. 

Enterprise Work Management 1.0

Organizations adopted one of two approaches in hopes of harnessing the power of IT to adapt to the new world of work:  behemoth proprietary solutions or rigid and complex custom development.

The behemoth solutions offered a wholesale approach – covering commonplace business functions like Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, and more – and customization through configuration.  The singular platform was beneficial in that it anchored the organization – in the same way, the conference room did in The Good Ole Days – with a common frame of reference for strategy, priorities, and changing conditions.

But the solutions were “an inch deep and a mile wide,” offering “good enough” business process automation.  And because these big-box solutions were once seen as the linchpin to the modern work conundrum, vendors were able to – and even to this day in many organizations – lock buyers into expensive, complex licensing agreements.

The custom development option offered more customization but at the expense of “recreating the wheel” for very common, fundamental features and functions.  Custom development was also time/resource intensive; and in particular, during the Waterfall days, development could take months if not longer – and then, often failed to meet the intent of business requirements defined much earlier in the software development life cycle.

Both options offered pros and cons, but neither achieved what organizations were truly after:  a common frame of reference for work across the organization, configured with the fundamental business processes and configurable for the unique nuances of the organization.

 

Enterprise Work Management 2.0: Best of breed Systems

Enter the era of best of breeds:  in the “there’s an app for that” age, we’ve seen SaaS companies with deep understanding of a specific business function (e.g. Human Resources, Finance, etc.) developing highly customizable solutions built on a solid foundation of out-of-the-box functionality for optimizing the automation of common business processes.

Rather than recreate the wheel, organizations can use the SaaS foundation as a springboard for optimizing their business processes and automation, and then customize as needed through codeless or code-lite configuration. Best of breed systems also enable a modular technology ecosystem.  Modularity has two benefits:

  • Swap-In, Swap-Out Agility: Technology evolves rapidly and in the same way that an organization doesn’t want to be beholden to one of the wholesale platforms, it shouldn’t be obliged to stick with a best of breed when a better best in breed emerges.
  • Best (Fit) of Breed: The implied meaning of best of breed is something along the lines of “this is the best system for X of all the systems that do X”.  In that context, one might visit a Gartner Magic Quadrant report to find the Leaders in a particular area – these are the best of breeds.

But best of breed can also mean the best fit.  An organization may need the Leader for a customer relationship management system but may need a Niche Player product for its contract management system because of its business model.  Best of breed modularity allows organizations to pick and choose the right tools for their business needs, budget, risk-appetite, etc.

In some cases, best of breeds have received a bad rap for creating functional silos. There are two reasons for the accusation:

  • Technology Sprawl: or the uncontrolled proliferation of technology within an organization, is an environment where best of breed solutions thrive:  someone identifies a need, finds a simple app to fulfill the need, and installs the app – no questions are asked. In more recent years, the IT community at large has a collective light-bulb moment that technology sprawl was not the fault any particular technology, but of missing enterprise IT governance – where needs and proposed solutions for those needs are evaluated in a much more holistic context before decisions are made and acted upon.
  • Limited Integrations: Until more recently, the technical agility for connecting a nearly infinite number of apps and applets was nonexistent.  If organizations wanted to connect systems, custom integrations were the only option.  But that’s no longer the case…

 

 

 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Evolution of Modern Work series, where we uncover that best of Breeds systems, when paired with intelligent integrations and something called an Operational System of Record, is the answer to the challenges of modern work.  Catching up? Read part 1 – The Good Ole Days

Thank you for checking out Part 1 of 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series.  By the end of the series, we’ll be back here in 2019 and even peeking into 2020 and beyond, talking about what it takes to survive and thrive in this era of modern work. 

But today, our journey begins pre-Digital Revolution, pre-internet, pre-“I have 37 notification icons blinking at me right now on 3 different devices”, or better known as The Good Ole Days. 

The Good Ole Days

The idea that all business processes across an enterprise share a single mission was once an obvious concept; picture the Mad Men office where everyone from the C-suite to the front line was connected through highly-structured, yet fairly primitive communication and execution mechanisms because technology had not yet enabled more complex and expeditious methods of getting things done.

With teams fairly centralized, and the typewriter and rotary phone the keystones of modern workplace technology, staying focused on the mission-critical priorities was nowhere near the quagmire it is today.

Since this scene is so far removed from what we experience in the workplace today, it may be hard to imagine how anything got done; even though everyone may have been quite literally sitting at the table, they didn’t have the tools we consider essential to doing work today.

But there was much accomplished.  Think post-World War II –men were returning home and to work, women were contributing to the workforce in unprecedented numbers – the economy was booming, consumer confidence and national morale soaring.  The Civil Rights movement began, the structure of DNA was uncovered, the polio vaccine and the first organ transplants was bringing hope to the afflicted.  And the computer, which would forever change the way we work, made the leap from exclusive science labs and war rooms to the business office.

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” Editor of Prentice Hall business books, 1957

 

Problems + Solutions = More Problems

Throughout the dawning of the Digital Revolution, as technology evolved more rapidly and adoption expanded with innovations becoming more accessible and affordable, the modern workplace, too, evolved.

Among other fundamental shifts, the very characterization of “team” changed – geographically dispersed teammates, connected by global networks (and able to visit in-person more easily thanks to parallel technology advances in the travel industry) were able to collaborate quickly and around the clock.

Similarly, the concept of “work” was entirely reimagined, where the physical became digital.  Where “work” was once a tangible object – definable, measurable, and repeatable, it became abstract – a new and strange concept where the workforce simply ushered information from one place to another.

In this new world, where the bottom line was hinged upon these dispersed teams, collaborating (faster than ever before) to shepherd information, a new problem emerged:  the old administration mechanisms couldn’t keep up with this new world of work.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Evolution of Modern Work series, where we introduce the 2 phases of Enterprise Work Management that aimed to address the challenges of modern work but didn’t quite get us there. 

The transition to digital technology has disrupted nearly every industry. In today’s marketplace, change is no longer optional. Organizations that fail to embrace the digital transformation of business simply can’t compete. Some companies have attempted to move towards digital technologies, only to see their projects fail. Unfortunately, they took a technology-centric approach to convert their business practices. But successful digital transformation isn’t determined by your technology or your strategy – it is determined by the people who make up your business.

The power of human capital

The secret to successfully shifting organizational culture is the same whether you want to improve engagement levels or enhance digital prowess: strong, inspirational leadership at every level of the organization. From the top down, your management team must be capable of making a business case, influencing culture, and connecting with employees on a personal level. With the right leadership, transparent communication, and a strong focus on business solutions, your company’s transition to the digital world is sure to be a win.

Including the right internal resources

One of the biggest mistakes that transformation teams make is not having enough of the right internal people in the mix. The digital transformation of business appears, at first glance, to fall squarely in the IT department’s span of control. Though technology professionals play a critical role, there are a variety of additional internal resources that must be included in your project team. For example, you must enlist assistance from leaders with decision-making authority on operations, quality, and budgeting. Nothing slows a team down more than spending weeks developing a solution that doesn’t meet the needs of the business.

The most effective transformation teams understand that a collaborative approach is the best way to ensure all staff members are on-board. Enlist help from highly-engaged staff members at every level of the organization to take ownership of the digital transition. These early adopters are the first to test new technology, and they can be relied upon to train and encourage their colleagues. By including these individuals on the project team, the transition moves quickly and efficiently through the organization with minimal resistance.

Creating the most effective partnerships

Partners from outside the organization are critical to your success. Of course, this depends on the experience and expertise they bring to the table. Yours is not the first company to move towards digital transformation, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Connect with subject matter experts that have developed solutions for a variety of businesses similar to yours. These specialists make it easy to bridge the gap between technology and its deployment.

When engaging partners from outside the organization, thoroughly vet prospects as you would any other business relationship. You are making a significant investment in digital technology, and these individuals can dramatically influence your eventual ROI. Examine previous projects and gain a deep understanding of their successes and failures with other companies. Determine whether potential partners have appropriate capabilities for organizations that are similar in size and volume.

Depending on the product or service you offer and the clientele you serve, your needs will be markedly different. Make sure prospective partners have the experience and expertise required to create solutions that are right for your business.

Learn more about moving your business to the digital world – explore our services and products at www.leappoint.com.

As the amount of data and the pace of business increases, the need to manage and analyze data in a user-friendly platform is undeniable. Business Intelligence (BI) tools are the go-to solutions for transforming data into actionable knowledge that informs your organization’s strategic and tactical business decisions. With a variety of vendors to choose from, and that all seem to offer similar features and make similar promises, selecting a BI tool can be a lengthy process. So here are five things you should consider when choosing your BI tool:

1. Integration

To narrow down your BI tool choices, you need to select a standalone solution or an integrated solution. If you’re considering a standalone solution, you will have no shortage of options. However, you may experience low adoption rates due to these solutions existing in a separate application. It all goes back to that adage: out of sight, out of mind. Whereas reports in integrated solutions can be accessed and viewed through any pre-existing applications, websites, and services within your company – locations that users are already familiar with and use regularly.

Pro tip: If you choose to move forward with an integrated solution, you should ask if it is partially or fully integrated since some companies may not specify.

2. Data Management

Data management is at the core of everything you want to accomplish with a BI tool. When you are choosing the best BI tool for your organization, you have to consider your data and the functionality you’re seeking. The solution you choose should support access to multiple data sources (i.e., data warehouses, internal databases, the cloud and data marts), and depending on the disparate sources you are using, it may also need to cleanse and transform your data for proper use within its system. You will need to determine whether the tool must import data into its store before processing it, or if it can handle data queries on the fly – the answer to this question could have a notable impact on the speed at which you can access your data. You also need to ensure that the tool enables data manipulation once imported and find out what the limitations are on data capacity.

Pro tip: Some BI tools load your existing database data into their software and generate reports from there, saving you time from setting up your own data infrastructure. This type of tool could work if your data is small and fragmented. However, as your data increases, the cost incurred will also increase, and you would be limited to the functionality provided by the BI tool since your data would be stored within it.

3. Security

Security is non-negotiable for today’s mobile workforce. For internal security concerns such as access credentials, you must ensure the BI tool you are planning to buy is well equipped with proper encryption mechanisms. The tool should also offer you options to set the necessary permissions for protecting sensitive or proprietary information. These credentialing capabilities guarantee that secure data cannot be accessed, transmitted or altered by unauthorized users.

4. Visual Functionality & Usability

Your business intelligence reporting tool is the face of the whole operation. It’s what your users will refer to when making business decisions. So while ease-of-use, visual appeal, and intuitiveness may seem like nice-to-haves vs. need-to-haves, those user experience nuances can make the difference between successful user adoption or a refusal by employees to use the new system.

Pro tip: When deciding on a tool, you need to ask yourself the following questions

  • Is the tool easy to use?
  • Does the tool support a variety of user types?
  • Does the tool’s data visualization allow for customization and flexibility to support your goals and the requirements of the many functional groups in your organization?

 

5. Customization

No organization is the same in its operations and needs. You need to select a BI vendor that can support your requirements of today and in the future. It’s important to keep in mind that some vendors only provide minimal customization abilities, and others don’t give organizations the ability to expand. While this might work for a few companies, most will need a custom set-up –one that can integrate flawlessly into their operations, and develop as they grow.