Guest Author: Steve Russell
Global 360 Inc.
In this third posting on how to Kill the Things that Kill Productivity series, I thought it would be helpful to take a look at change and agility – probably one of the most commonly heard marketing drum beats in enterprise software for the last few years. Everyone in enterprise software wants to enable agility in one way or another, and to read some of their literature you would think business was in a constant state of upheaval, but I don’t really think that’s the case.
Business processes do change. Occasionally, they change in dramatic ways due to corporate events such as a restructuring or a change in strategy, new product launches, and regulatory changes. More often however, they change in subtle ways due to a new step in a procedure, an extra field to be coded, or another spreadsheet to reference. Individually, each change is hardly noteworthy, yet their cumulative effect is real and eventually very costly.
Dealing with the problem requires a move away from big IT support in favor of incremental user updates that are implemented as quickly as possible. Let users have control of the tools they need to keep their applications relevant. This has been a big part of the success of SharePoint. The business has more control over the solution and new applications and changes to existing applications do not require full IT change management cycles. By enabling users to have more control over their applications and the tools used to define them, technology can be more responsive to business needs.
I’m not advocating that IT close their doors and that end users (or more accurately, end power-users) should manage and maintain everything having to do with core business applications. IT plays a very important role in ensuring that company policies and governance is implemented, systems continuity is maintained and a host of other extremely important functions. My point is that when all application maintenance is owned by IT, small incremental changes to how business gets done is rarely reflected in the systems that support the business.
With each business change, the existing applications and systems satisfy a diminishing percentage of the business’ needs. Productivity slowly degrades as workers accumulate additional manual or “extra” steps they are required to perform – steps that are not supported by their legacy systems. SharePoint offers the opportunity to immediately assimilate change into the application environment and prevent this extra work from evolving. Once legacy systems are turned into services providing data and transactions to SharePoint-based applications, the strength of SharePoint’s flexibility can be highly leveraged. No longer do you have to wait on IT to add new fields, reorganize screens or include relevant information.
Wikis, notes and other SharePoint productivity tools can help address this problem. Procedure manuals and sharing of tribal knowledge is not only facilitated, it can be saved, indexed, reviewed and pushed to everyone. This doesn’t require any computer system changes. All it takes is giving the people doing the work, the tools to let everyone benefit and adapt as business changes.
Businesses can further restore productivity by implementing a dynamic case-oriented solution leveraging the inherent agility of a business process management platform to continuously maintain and update a process. Once enabled with a business process solution, organizations have an economically viable platform for maintaining alignment between their current business processes and their supporting applications.
Let IT do what they do best; maintaining and delivering the core transaction systems that underlie and support how companies do business. Let the user community have access and control over tools to make those transaction systems more dynamic and responsive to all of the little changes that vibrant organizations face every day. By doing so, the automation that everyone depends on maintains its relevancy and organizational productivity is optimized.
In the next article we are going to look at the opportunity (and low cost) of increasing user morale. Low Morale: “Did you see that?” looks at the benefits of using SharePoint to provide feedback and motivation to business users.
Guest Author: Steve Russell
Global 360 Inc.
Steve Russell is the SVP of Research and Development and CTO for Global 360 Inc., based in Dallas Texas. He has over 25 years of experience as a technologist developing enterprise process and document management software platforms. Steve has extensive experience with large, mission critical systems development and deployment within Fortune 2000 companies.