Master Modern Work Tag

Thank you for checking out Part 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series.  If you’re just tuning in, check out Parts 1, 2, and 3 where we have walked through the history of work to arrive at the conclusion that the only way to master modern work is through the intelligent integration of best of breed systems, including an Operational System of Record.   

We’re here at our last stop in this journey – why do I need to master modern work? We’ll start with why and then we’ll meet some of the organizations that are on their “A-Game” in mastering modern work. 

Enterprise Business Outcomes

Surging consumer confidence and record-breaking market milestones have been the norm for the last few years.  But leading expert predictions and economic indicators are signaling a downshift.  Pair that with an increasingly chaotic political environment and heading into a Presidential-election year: in 2019-2020, we may not see the same upward curve.

Organizations that enter this uncertainty excelling at the essentials will be able to devote scarce resources to innovation; competitors, mired in the chaos of undisciplined modern work, are already struggling and most certainly won’t be able to keep up.

With the virtuous circle created by intelligent integrations of best of breed systems, including the Operational System of Record – where strategy, operations, and tactics are all tightly aligned, an organization can drive and achieve enterprise business outcomes:

  • Increase operational efficiency, reduce operational spend
  • Infuse innovation and digital change into the business
  • Create a hard-to-replicate competitive advantage
  • Enhance customer experience and employee satisfaction
  • Maximize return on investment and shareholder value

 

Meet the A-Gamers

There are organizations already on their journey to mastering modern work through the intelligent integration of best of breed systems to drive enterprise business outcomes.  In the public and private sectors, these organizations are at the top of their game – they’re the A-Gamers, bringing the A-Game.

A-Game Enterprises  

With an executive champion and full C-suite support, the A-Game Enterprise is fully integrated and marching in unison toward enterprise business outcomes.  The CIO likely leads the charge; with enterprise reach, deep insight into the technology landscape and ecosystem, and increasing demand in an environment of shrinking budgets, the CIO is uniquely positioned to bring the A-Game to fruition. These same organizations will likely be the early-adopters of a new C-suite role we’ll see emerge: the Chief Work Officer – a role dedicated to the invaluable asset of work.

A-Game Organizational Units

With a departmental champion, the A-Game Organizational Unit is fully integrated and marching in unison toward departmental goals that support enterprise business outcomes. Any organizational unit can be A-Game and even without initial enterprise buy-in, the A-Game Organizational Unit soon stands out – with strategy, operations, and tactics aligned, and actionable insights gained through the Operational System of Record, the A-Game Organizational Unit emerges as the most prepared, the most responsive, the most productive, the most resilient – a master of modern work.

A-Game Leaders

Even if the enterprise or organizational unit hasn’t adopted the A-Game, the A-Game Leader forges ahead. He or she knows the value of the A Game and champions the cause in his or her world of work. Portfolio / Program / Project Management Office Leaders are examples of A-Game Leaders.

Check out some of the A-Gamers LeapPoint has had the privilege of partnering with throughout their A-Game journey.

 

Thank you for joining us for our Evolution of Modern Work series.  Want to know more about mastering modern work and the A-Game?  Join us on our 13-city tour – The A-Game, Powered by LeapPoint; find out more at www.leappoint.com

Thank you for checking out Part 3 of our Evolution of Modern Work series. If you’re not caught up, check out Part 1  and Part 2. In these two parts, we introduced the pre-Digital Revolution concept of work and how it fundamentally transformed with the introduction of technology. We then explored the two phases of Enterprise Work Management that aimed to address the challenges of modern work but didn’t quite get us there.

Modern Work, Mastered

Today, we’ll see how the adoption of best of breed systems was a significant first step in addressing the challenges of modern work. But to bring your A-Game, your systems must be paired with Intelligent Integrations, and something called an Operational System of Record.

Intelligent Integrations

If we think back to what organizations were trying to accomplish with big-box systems and custom development – “a common frame of reference for work across the organization.” – It becomes evident that disconnected best of breeds don’t make the cut.

It is not by chance, then, that incredibly agile integration technologies are flourishing in the best of breed era. There are four best practices, depending on the integration scenario:

1. Application Program Interfaces (APIs): An API is a connection between two systems for very specific purposes (e.g., pulling a Customer ID from System A for use in System B). Out-of-the-box APIs are incredibly common in nearly all SaaS. Particularly in best of breed systems so that they can “talk” to other systems to create a more seamless user experience across platforms.

2. Integration Platform As A Service (iPaaS): iPaaS is identical to APIs in purpose and outcome, but they offer extreme, codeless agility in connecting any Cloud-based systems – whether they have existing APIs or not.

3. Custom Integrations: Custom integrations remain an option, particularly in complex integrations or when integration involves any system that is not Cloud-based – some on-premise and legacy systems.

4. Robotics Process Automation (RPA): RPA is an appropriate option when the integration involves automating a highly repeatable process that occurs frequently and requires human interaction.

But let’s return to the example from APIs. Let’s say that the Customer ID pulled from System A for use in System B is then used by an Analyst to do a lookup on a public website. If she is performing 500 Customer ID searches a day, this is an excellent use case for RPA – automating the process and opening up the Analyst’s time for higher-value work.

But merely connecting the best of breed systems is not enough. In the same way that the human body operates through a complex neural network and all governed from a central command – our integrated best of breed network must also be connected and governed from a central command.

Operational System of Record

Every major asset of an organization has a dedicated system of record to administer, track, and manage the asset: human resource management systems for employees, customer relationship management systems for prospects and customers, financial management systems for money and transactions, contracts management systems for contracts, and so on. But what about work?

Work as an Asset

If we recall the characterization of work in the modern workplace, it’s the shepherding of information from one place to another. Information as an asset is not a new concept. The likes of Gartner and even the current US Federal Government Administration have laid out strategies for leveraging data as a strategic asset and championed the resurrection of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) role.

Another compelling case for work as an asset come from Harvard Business Review. They note that small ideas, borne at the proverbial water cooler, often make their way into business processes. And over time, more and more of these small ideas create a sort of intangible intellectual property – one that wouldn’t be showcased in a product or service or documented in a patent. These ideas become powerful differentiators that are extremely difficult for competitors to replicate.

Work is an invaluable asset on-par in value with, if not greater than, all other corporate assets. Institutional investors, who make investments based on hard, tangible, qualitative measures are looking at softer, more intangible measures because of a rather shocking discovery: “The most valuable aspects of jobs are now, ‘the most essentially human tasks: Sensing, judging, creating, and building relationships.’ A great deal of a company’s value now lies ‘between the ears of its employees.’ And this means that when someone leaves a company, he takes his value with him – more often than not, straight to the competition.”

Work Management “Systems”

Whether we acknowledge work as an asset or not, we are tracking it. Both structured work (e.g., planned project tasks) and unstructured work (e.g., an instant message conversation) are both tracked in systems, in documents, and our heads. We’ve even connected many of these tracking mechanisms through the integration methods described above. But connecting the dots still hasn’t revealed the big picture: Are the right people enabled by the right tools? And are they working on the right things, at the right time in the right way to achieve the right business outcomes?

Operational System of Record

The Operational System of Record (OSR) is the central command of our work neural network, the dedicated system of record for work. Work itself may be carried out in the connected best of breed systems. The OSR’s role is to create a virtuous circle, where tightly aligned strategy, operations, and tactics are planned, executed, measured, and adjusted in the context of enterprise business outcomes. The OSR achieves the organizational alignment of the Good Ole Days while capitalizing on the very best technology has to offer.

 

Stay tuned for Part 4 of our Evolution of Modern Work series. In Part 4, we’ll delve into why mastering modern work is incredibly important. Additionally, I’ll introduce you to some of the organizations that are at the top of their game – the A-Game – in mastering modern work.

 

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