The Balancing Act between New and Old

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The adoption of technology in business has been taking place in a feverish pace. While many businesses have garnered significant productivity improvement from the investment, many are struggling to integrate the new technologies with the existing systems and operations. Not every business has the luxury of swapping out old technologies overnight. This means businesses need to be adaptive in the interim to integrate the new technologies with the old. They need to master three things in order to accommodate changes and continue to improve their business.

  1. Make adequate provision for adaptation and refinement

It is common to see businesses embark on multiple initiatives. They strive to move quickly from one project to the next. Employees tread on water and shoulder an overwhelming workload.

Consider the centralization of new accounts processing for a service company. The support clerk for each account rep used to process the new accounts. By expanding the use of the CRM (customer relationship management) application functionalities, it is more efficient to centralize the new accounts processing function.

A few shifts are introduced as a result. The support clerk gains free time from transferring the work to a central resource group. For the account rep, he needs to pass on his client information to another group. The central resource group might need to reach out to the client directly.

The business provides training to the affected stakeholders on the new workflow and the CRM application. In addition, it needs to make allowance for the changes to take hold. The support clerk, the account rep, and the central resource group need time to work through the new approach and identify kinks. They need time to adapt.

To ensure success, it is best to set aside a definitive timeline for making refinement post-implementation. During this time, stakeholders are expected to share their experiences and voice concerns openly so that refinement can be made to the new solution as well as the existing tools. If this provision is not made and resources are reassigned immediately to other work, the failure to follow up on problems leaves employees struggling. They would be less receptive to the next change that comes along.

  1. Foster a collaborative culture

With the ease of information access made available by technology, it is logical for a business to expand job scopes and consolidate work that crosses departmental boundaries.

As one’s job scope broadens, it is important for the individual to be knowledgeable about the overall workflow in order to trouble-shoot. More importantly, he needs to build strong relationships with peers outside his own work area.

Collaboration is essential for expedient problem resolution particularly during the transition period. The central resource group in the above example needs to know the boundaries for its responsibilities and work closely with the account rep. In addition, as the support rep has already built a relationship with the client, the central resource group wants to tap into her client knowledge when dealing with issues.

Businesses that are able to create a collaborative culture would have a unified workforce that works in coherence, establishing a supportive environment for consistent delivery of services to their customers.

  1. Monitor critical drivers for improvement

Technology promises speed in execution. Businesses need to identify and track the performance of the critical drivers.

Using the above example, the shifts introduced need to be monitored to address questions around workload changes, productivity gain, customer satisfaction, and bottlenecks. The business needs to identify measures to monitor the effects of these changes, including the transitions between the new and the old.

The data would alert the business about issues so that it can take corrective action. A common problem with many businesses is the lack of discipline in monitoring the outcomes of a technology investment. They fail to hold someone accountable to track the benefits of an initiative.

From the operations perspective, it is a lost opportunity to further improve the solution implemented. For the business, it won’t be able to capture the accelerator or the weakest link of the investment. The business has little to gauge success.

Integration could be tricky especially when the scope of change impacts multiple areas and involve legacy systems. In making mindful transitions with a strong focus on building a collaborative culture, the business will develop strong work relationships amongst workers. The supportive environment enables the business to act in a cohesive manner whenever it is alerted of problems. With a disciplined approach to monitor the critical drivers, the business has a ‘zoom’ lens into revealing insights for improvement.

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