Before You Automate, Simplify Your Processes

7-Ways-to-Get-the-Most-.Hoping that technology will lead employees to do what they aren’t currently doing, managers and executives leap right into automation without giving due process to the foundational steps of “simplify” and “standardize.” Mistakenly, they think technology will jump-start behavioral change or define a more robust strategy.

Often, however, lobbing technology solutions into a complex system ends up creating more activities rather than fewer, and this builds operational clutter inside the organization. Skipping steps actually results in decreased efficiency and productivity.

Consider your new-product development process. It includes strategy, idea generation, concept testing, business analysis, development, test marketing and commercialization. Each stage functions like a gate; if an idea is unable to clear the hurdles presented at that stage, it can’t advance to the next. When it comes to technology, however, it’s not uncommon for managers to jump right into installing a new platform or software and then mandating its immediate use.

Using a systematic process that is heavily front-loaded will ensure successful outcomes. The three-phase process of simplify, standardize, and automate (SSA) allows executives to be clear on what problems they are hoping to solve and new opportunities they want the solution to create. Returns on technology investments become easier to model after the first two steps. By establishing milestones of success, the investments of time, energy, and capital are maximized. Before applying technology, perfect your analog process.

Ray Attiyah is the founder of Definity Partners, a hands-on, business-training firm that integrates process redesign and leadership-behavior modeling. He developed the Run-Improve-Grow system to inspire the best leaders to reach for higher-hanging fruit. His newest book is Run Improve Grow: Your Roadmap from Firefighting to Bold Business Growth.