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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

Back in the 80s and 90s, when Soft Cell and Nirvana were flying high in the charts, accountancy companies and auditors sold you a set of “best practice processes”, often described as an “operating model”. 

The objective behind this was simple, we “muggles” couldn’t come up with a set of standard processes, therefore you were given a preset batch of processes to work to.  While i realise that many people think they and the companies are different, in fact many are similar.  If you think about the process to raise a purchase order, match with an invoice, pay the invoice and account for it, it’s pretty much standard worldwide.  Hence why there are accounting products that work and sold globally.

There were multiple business process reengineering (BPR) projects as companies changed systems for the year 2000, or Y2K as it was called.  If you recall, the world was going to come to a standstill as computer programs had been written for years that started with 19, as in 1971 and not years that started with 20, as in 2018.  Pretty much every computer system in the world was changed as part of Y2K.

The plan was that these systems would be implemented and last 10 or so years.

Problem being that Lehman Brother’s bank went down in 2008, plunging the world into a recession.  This meant that system change that was required in 2010, didn’t happen, in fact the budget for this either hasn’t happened or is taking place under the guise of “digital transformation”.

So what has this go to do with my operation model?

The problem is, your companies process and systems were probably built pre-iPhone.  For example, the systems, process are often not even designed to run on mobile.  Even many customers access systems that are not mobile complaint.

Note:  The iPhone was released 11 years ago, this year.

The Annual Re-Organisation

I worked for a company that prided itself on being able to “spin on a dime”.  Every-year there was a re-organisation, the CEO would say “right we are marching in this direction” and we all got in behind them and followed.

This worked for many years, until the company transformed itself to a Cloud company.  As us employees matched to the SaaS tune, the systems didn’t change.  So while Cloud competitors could produce proposals and contracts in hours or days, we couldn’t produce proposals or contracts in weeks, sometimes months.

It’s really difficult as a salespeople to explain to a client you are interested in their business when contracts take weeks to cut.

So Whats the Answer?

Many companies as I mention above, under the guise of “digital transformation” are under going a systems replacement.  This is fine, but system change is about people, process and technology.  We always seem to be missing a piece.  There is IT replacement and it’s slammed in and hope people use it.

Often system change is hidden up a system upgrade.

One of my clients at my previous company to access one system had to use two different PS, with different operating systems as they had to support two different old browsers versions.  New recruits lasted 6 months before they resigned quoting the rubbish internal systems as a reason for leaving.

The Future?

Social, digital, mobile isn’t going away, in fact it’s likely to accelerate.  Companies need to work out how they can be de-coupled in terms of process and system.  A data model you implement today could be out modded tomorrow.  Look how fast the internet and social media has been adopted by the world.  Or even, bring your own device (BYOD), we have one client who only uses Blackberries.

Ii’s time for a business to embrace new ways of working, new systems and while sometimes a one site fits all set of processes can create efficiency, this also needs to be tempered with what processes will give you combative advantage.

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