owen at owengreaves dot com

Posts Tagged ‘ERP’

Measuring Business Processes

Last year I wrote an article called ” I.T. Decisions – Who Makes Them In Your Organization? “. Often the wrong people are making these decisions, they aren’t bad people but they should rely on those who work with Technology and understand the implications of making the wrong choices. One of the best ways to prevent the wrong people from making I.T. decisions is to make sure all business processes are well documented and measured (weighted). Why you ask?

  • If all subject matter experts in your business were to document their business processes, you would know exactly what each staff person has to do each and everyday to get the job done.
  • You then have a foundation to measure the right software applications for your business
  • These business processes can now be measured and weighted to help make I.T. decisions for your organization

Those are just few but you should be getting the idea.

There are many ways of handling the task of measuring business processes but I’ll try to keep it simple for you. There are two things I would recommend:

  1. Build a Database (MySQL or SQL) to store your business processes & the weighting
  2. Build Excel Worksheets to enter & pull these processes and weights from the Database

Years ago I had a couple of really sharp guys working for me, they built a nifty application (system) for us to measure our business processes against features in software applications. We wanted to have a snapshot of how each application matched up against each other, the problem is we didn’t have an easy way to see all our requirements on one page. We also didn’t know which processes were more important than others.

The first step is to pull your key subject matter experts together, get all business processes documented for each role in the organization. This ensured you knew what tasks had to be completed each and everyday to do business. Depending on your business this can be an easy job or a labour intensive one. I highly recommend this gets done regardless of how hard or how long it takes, because it makes future upgrades and or the decision to change a core application in your organization much easier.

Once you have your business processes documented you have something to work with when deciding what software or ERP systems implement, this job takes time but it’s well worth it. Enter these processes into your database, then build spreadsheets to pull that data out for review.

In your database you want to also store a measurement we’ll call weighting for this example. Why? When you sitdown and have software demonstrated you can ask key questions, does this software do this and that from your database. Afterall, you are asking directly from how you do business (your documented business processes). You now want to be able to give that process a score or measurement when sitting in these demonstrations. Your scale might look like this:

1 – Does it well and is easy to use

3 – Does it but not well – not easy to figure out or use

5 – May need to be modified

9 – Not sure – need more information

0 – Doesn’t do it at all

In your spreadsheet you would use the above scale to measure the software you are looking at on a business process by business process basis. Sounds tedious doesn’t it? It is when setting things up the first time, after that it gets much easier because you don’t need to build it again.

This is just one way of measuring your business process against software, you could and should group your business processes by importance as well. That way you know exactly what you MUST have and what the NICE to have’s would be.

I hope that helps, feel free to conatct me if you have questions or wish to go through this process for your business.

I would love your feedback, what do you think and do you have a better way?

What's Your Plan For 2010?

You notice I didn’t ask you what your New Years Resolution(s) was or going to be? I don’t believe in or like New Years Resolutions because they set you up to fail. I won’t go in to why but I think you already know. We take more time to plan our vacations than we do our careers and or business goals for the next 1,2,3…5 years.

If you are a business owner you know that everything is in the plan, without it you don’t have a target, objectives and a road map to where you want to be in the next year, or the next 5. There are plans and then there wish lists, plans have long & short term goals. Wish lists don’t, they are nice to have’s or something you would like to have happen as a bonus to your plan.

Many of you are wondering what 2010 will bring, is business going to improve, will you find more work and so on. I don’t have a crystal ball, if I did I would know what’s going to happen to me let alone the sate of the Global market. I know this, we spend far too much time worrying, chasing and forgetting what’s truely important in our day-to-day lives.

Youv’e heard it said before, no one ever says on their death bed that they wished they worked more hours and had a bigger house or more money. They always say, I wish I had of spent more time with my kids, wife and taken more time for myself. You should know that I survived a heart attack in 2001, I can tell you first hand I never once thought about my job, my car, my house or any posession. I can tell you that I thought about my Lisa, my two boys Tyler & Brandon, my goals since then, to be and do more with them more often. I have and I continue to make sure my family gets the best of me.

We all have plans for different parts of our lives but mostly about our work and things we want from a material point of view. Business plans are abundent this time of year as new goals are put forward, hoping business will be better the next year than the last.  That’s OK, you should set those objectives, it’s good business to do so.

In 2010 much is going to change, but what? How will it impact your business and could you survive those changes you don’t see coming.  The level of risk when planning to upgrade full ERP systems, Payroll Software or an Office Suite may be low, but what happens when your business doesn’t reach sales objectives? How do you respond, what should you do? If you have a plan, you’ll know exactly what to do and even see clearly what steps to take to turn things around.

There a many, many templates and websites that can help you if you don’t have a plan, the business plan, the I.T. Strategic Plan and so on. I review many business plans and even more I.T. Strategic Plans and I can tell you almost immediately which ones are going to help when a crisis arrives. Everything is in the Plan.

What’s Your Plan For 2010?

Mine? Go over my plan and make adjustments as needed long term. I’m currently working on my short term plan, for the coming year called 2010. I’ll share some of my plans in my next Blog post.

You? Do you have one you can work from to ensure the next year has a road map?

I.T. Exec's – Now Is The Time

Thinking_Out_Side_The_BoxAfter talking to many business owners and I.T. Execs here in my area, I’m convinced most don’t understand or see the change that is taking place and think Social Media is a waste of time, a fad. Most are bottom-line thinkers and there must be a result for ever action taken, an immediate return on investment. They say I don’t have time for that sh*t! It puzzles me how those who think in these terms consider themselves Revolutionary thinkers, Visionaries in their respective fields. It would seem to me that this is the ultimate oxymoron. These individuals understand bricks & mortar better than most but they struggle with the soft side of what’s happening with Social Media and refuse to believe that it has any influence on the bottom-line.

How could it be that these brilliant minds are missing the shift, unwilling to accept that their roles will be obsolete as they know them. The argument is valid, someone must do the work, and, someone must be in charge, well, sort of. The Executive(s) that understand we the people are going to tell him what and how things will go will win, he must listen and listen hard before making a final decision. I’m not saying dismantle your hierarchy right this minute, I’m saying prepare to allow for a flattening of management and an empowerment of your staff unlike anything you’ve planned for in the past. Open yourselves up to bringing strategic I.T. and Social Media consultants (thinkers) in to help guide and wade through this new environment, this new era of Social Media and what it will mean to you and your business. How 50 Billion Dollar Marketing Dollars will go to firms that are smaller and can move faster than the bloated organizations we know today.

There will still be a need for large ERP systems and the like but they too are changing, as we move towards Virtual Reality and Nanotechnology, these environments are being built via the Cloud today rather than in big rooms with SANS and mainframe like servers. In the future we all will be wireless device’s, we will integrate with technology, in some ways we already have, manual processes will disappear in such a way we won’t see it coming. This isn’t fear mongering, this is asking you to look outside of your four walls and take notice of what’s really going on with technology, spend time looking ahead and consult with those who can help you see what you can’t see now.

I.T. Exec’s – The Time Is Now! You may even be too late in some circles, much needs to be done and you need to get started if you haven’t already. Don’t do things in a vacuum or you will stay inside your four walls and try to use old thinking to get you of your Executive Box. I know most of it seems logical but trying to put an ROI to conversation(s) is confusing at best when you try to get there using traditional equations. There are some sharp people who can help you and you must be willing to allow them to lead you through the maze, if you are looking for someone in your area let me know and I’ll get you connected.

I could go on and on but I think you’re getting the picture, get outside the box and ride the wave rather than be whipped out by it!