People, Process, and Technology… In THAT f****** order!
I recently read 2 excellent articles (links below) that illustrate in a very effective manner the trilogy of a successful business transformation: people, process, and technology. They triggered this post…
I have several years of experience in the domain of Procurement solutions both as “internal consultant / evangelist” in a Procurement organisation and now as consultant for organisations wanting to use Procurement technology to improve their performance.
One constant in all those years is that, very often, Procurement organisations see a “tool” (we’re talking about eProcurement, eSourcing,…) as THE solution to everything that does not go “well”. The consequence is to consider projects for the implementation of these tools as technical, IT centric.
This is wrong! So wrong!
1. People are the key to everything!
Organisations are people… and they often forget that they are the most valuable assets that a company has!
Creativity, innovation… comes from people. Customers, suppliers, collaborators, and shareholders are people and we all have the same kind of aspiration / motivation model, c.f. Maslow.
Plus, in the context of a change, implementation of Procurement solutions is a change, they have a key “role”: they can make the difference between success and failure!
People come first because they run the processes and they use the technology… or they don’t. People are very clever at finding ways to go around a process or to avoid a tool when they do not perceive the meaning behind it.
I am a believer in taking from a domain and applying concepts / ideas to another… I will therefore take from the venture capital & marketing world and apply that to the change management world.
When considering a change, the people / organization initiating the change should consider the people impacted by the change as “investors”. Then the question is why would I personally “invest” in that project / change? Well, taking from Guy Kawasaki, an expert in venture capital and marketing, meaning is everything.
So, people first! Do not forget it!
Then comes process. Because processes gives a structure, something executable and repeatable. If you cannot map a process, do not even try to implement an electronic tool.
Processes also give a structure of responsibility and trust. If you have no clear responsibilities defined and/or a trust issue… do not even try to implement an electronic tool.
Technology comes last. Yes, technology is everywhere today and can really bring tremendous benefits, but not out of the blue. Boost in efficiency and in effectiveness are built on a solid base! They are an outcome of getting the people do the right things and process ensuring that the things done are right. Technology is an enabler, not a solution.
To conclude, I will take from a core idea of the HBR article below and from of 1 of the first posts I wrote on Procurement Tidbits.
- Article by John Saddington, “People our most valuable asset”.
- Article by HBR, “High-Tech Tools Won’t Automatically Improve Your Operations”.
- and… More excellent Dilbert cartoons on the theme of people and assets.