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The People, Process, Technology Puzzle
by Sandra Noble, President
Noble & Associates Consulting, Inc.

Have you heard the buzz words: People, Process, and Technology? To reach business goals, each must be addressed and each must be appropriate. So, what does that mean? And, how do the puzzle pieces fit together?

This thing called Technology

Technology consists of hardware and software. The wrong technology decision has the boomerang effect of adding stress to the process and people components. Large companies are able to throw resources, usually money, at the problem to make things work. Smaller companies don’t often have that luxury, so they have to endure the pain. The smaller the company, the more risk you take on by not making an appropriate selection.

Do you have the right cost effective hardware?
Example: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is all the rage and in some cases may be required or mandated by others in your supply chain. But in may cases a bar code solution that you may already have could suffice.

Is your software appropriate for your organization or company?
Example: You may have chosen the name brand software solution that covers all the basic functions and works well for most companies. But perhaps you’re in a specialized industry where a more targeted solution would be most appropriate.

A look at Process

Often business look to technology to solve a process problem. Sometimes this works. Technology companies try to incorporate best practice processes into their products. Modifying your processes to work with the technology can bring about improvement of your processes.

On the other side of the coin, a thorough understanding of your current processes can help you make better technology decisions. Surely there is wisdom in lots of your processes. But like anything that has been modified and enhanced over time, it probably is less efficient than it would have been it the current / future state had been planned for in the beginning.

Other pieces to the puzzle are legal and regulatory considerations. Forward thinking companies will want to proactively monitor and address pertinent issues even before legal mandates are imposed.

  • Sarbanes Oxley requires that processes and procedures be in place in order to demonstrate compliance and oversight by top level executive. Documentation and technology are keys to success in this area. Companies that are not publicly traded would be wise to prepare for similar requirements in the future.
  • As a result of natural disasters last year, business continuity planning legislation may be on the horizon.
  • Concerns about bioterrorism and disease epidemics underscore the need for lot and batch traceability
  • Global electronic companies must consider European Union (EU) compliance issues born out of environmental concerns:
    • Effective July 1, 2006, the Reduction of Hazardous Waste (RoHS) directive prohibits the use of certain chemicals in electronic products
    • The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive requires companies selling electronics in the EU to recycle and to absorb the cost for so doing. Companies must be in WEEE compliance by January 1, 2007.

First question is: Are we legal and in compliance? Then, Are the corporate strategy, mission and priorities clearly articulated and understood by all? These answers drive your organizational structure, your products, your processes and your technology.

People are Pivotal

You have the technology and you have the processes, but nothing happens unless they are utilized by people. There are lots of debates about the attainability of a return on investment for an ERP system. Reasons that ROI may seem elusive are:

  • Mismatch between process and technology
  • The wrong technology solution was selected, for example:
    • doesn’t match your corporate goals or your industry
    • cannot handle compliance requirements
  • Inadequate documentation
  • People have not been adequately trained to take advantage of the technology
  • Technology was not set up and/or implemented correctly for your business
  • Lack of collaboration within the organization and /or throughout the supply chain.

People are expensive but crucial resources. The purpose of process and technology are to help your people add value to your organization.

Get IT Right!

What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)? The obvious project costs are for hardware, software, systems integration services, data conversion. But the TCO concept encourages a consideration of all direct and indirect costs, incurred throughout the life cycle of an asset or technology, including acquisition, deployment, operation, support and retirement.

Rising demands of regulatory compliance coupled with the relentless pursuit of profitability require corporations to find innovative ways to increasingly add value to the business without adding additional cost.

Many times businesses don’t want to take the time to properly analyze their requirements, goals and objectives before they embark on new projects. But you can’t afford not to take the time. Either you invest the money up front to get the right solutions or you pay later for maintenance costs, ineffective operations, poor employee morale and inability to make effective decisions.

Addressing all these pieces of the people, process, and technology puzzle will reveal the hidden potential in your organization. Having these pieces in place provides a panoramic view which empowers you to execute a strategy for success. Shouldn’t your goal be to maximize and accelerate ROI, and minimize TCO?

Sandra Noble MBA, CPIM, DCFS, CDP, is president of Noble & Associates Consulting which specializes in I.T. Needs / Strategy Assessments, unbiased Software Selection assistance, and curing Post Implementation Distress™. We also have full life cycle implementation expertise in SAP, Oracle and other enterprise-wide software solutions.
Reducing the STRESS of Software Implementations Worldwide!
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