Business Process Improvement
One of the biggest problems most companies are faced with is that their current technology does not reflect the company strategic vision. There are many reasons for this. One of the single biggest reasons is a true lack of a strategic planning process. Most times these elements are delivered piecemeal. They are based on company politics and mistaken priorities. The big problem is that the cost for doing things this way is very inefficient. It is important to have an overall company strategic plan that more effectively utilizes company resources and funding.
One of the largest components that is specifically meant to drive this strategic process is an ERP system. It houses most information and processes that can be leveraged off to support their strategic process. The problem with most ERP implementations is they start out with many grand ideas but typically fall short somewhere within the process. This is mainly because most AX implementation consultants are technically skilled within the AX product. This does not mean they have the skills to help the business get the most out of AX and other currently available technologies. This requires much more experienced consultants that not only know AX but they also know technologies and methodologies needed to drive the processes. They can also express these in terms that relate directly to the business needs.
The question you must ask yourself, is what were the goals and expectations of this new system in comparison with and where you're currently at. The question then becomes how do we get a system environment that not only addresses our business needs but can also help us with our strategic needs. From there you need to determine if those assumptions are still valid. When we look at a strategic plan, it should be based on elements that would include, better utilization and visibility of existing information, integration or improving integration of outside processes, process improvement that drives efficiency and accuracy, and the role of automation within processes.
To do this you must identify opportunities for improvement. From there it is important to assign an opportunity cost. One would typically prioritize by cost. The bigger the cost savings the higher the priority. Since these opportunities are based on a continuing cost of business, once we have identified a good solution it is fairly simple to calculate a payback.
Once you do create a strategic plan, defining the roadmap is the execution process and timeline for execution. It is important that this is a single integrated operating environment that can be executed efficiently. It needs to optimize resources and contain cost. It is not unlike a typical project plan, in fact project planning is most often used to represent this roadmap. It represents a company’s agreed-upon process for delivering these technology elements to the organization. Where most companies fail is the inability to accept and support this plan. There also is a tendency to expand scope to achieve specific goals. In short it was in the plan initially, it needs to be supported in some future plan.
One of the things that is very important to try to ascertain is the role of automation within the process. The cost of automation, particularly as it applies to operational data flow, has come down dramatically over the years. Mental processes can be automated. The more variable the decision path the more difficult it is to automate. But in processes where the decision path is finite there can be a great opportunity provided you have the following components: an initiating event, a definable process, a definable outcome and validation logic that identifies proper operation.