The People Part of Systems
Some years ago, we were in the market for a new operating system with a customer management (CMS) component. One of the finalists sent in their technical expert, along with a highly polished account executive (each right out of central casting) to put on a well-choreographed demonstration of the countless features of this new technology. When they were finished, they asked for feedback. The most insightful came from our Vice President of Marketing. In a matter-of-fact tone, she told them “You just showed us what the system will do. Now I’ll tell you what the people will do.”
Her point was as simple as it was accurate. Even the most comprehensive, feature-rich operating system will only be as useful as the extent to which those who use it are committed and prepared to adapt to a new way of working. Any unnecessary complexity will be met with resistance at best and outright revolt at worst. Mostly though, team members will (reluctantly?) comply with management’s wishes to see their investment utilized by doing the bare minimum needed to show they are in fact using the system.
Ask any sales leader for a top of mind guess of the extent to which their CRM system is utilized. I’ve yet to hear an estimate north of twenty five percent. Ugh!
It gets better. During a recent visit to a client company, the senior team was lamenting the fact that their CRM (a very popular offering) was being under-utilized by the sales team, with the company’s top producers the most frequent recalcitrants. What to do? The solution? Let’s get a different CRM!
Technology continues to emerge and has become ubiquitous in our personal and professional lives. The highest and best use comes when a technical solution accelerates what had been a manual process. Whether manual or technology enabled, without a well-defined, highly useful process already in place, any technology will likely be seen as little more than a needless layer of complexity, creating confusion and frustration among the very people whose work it should help facilitate.
Processes are developed, refined and utilized by people. They have their genesis in a sincere desire to solve a problem, simplify work, or maximize output. When properly done, adding technology can and should accelerate this effort. Ultimately, it is the people who make it work.
Have you analyzed and documented your business processes? Do you actively engage team members, soliciting their ideas and feedback on how to simplify work while maximizing quality output? If you aren’t where you need or want to be with these issues, investment in a technology solution will likely be met with costly disappointment.
For ideas on how your organization can streamline operations and increase employment engagement, contact me at email@example.com.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.