Friday, July 3, 2015

Technology is not the answer

When I was a teenager, back in the 80's, I decided that I wanted to be a professional photographer.  My plan was to to sell stock photography. I already had a good understanding of the technology behind photography.  (We are talking about film photography, not digital photography.) The next step of the plan was to buy a good camera. I saved up for two years to buy a Nikon FEII camera, a sizable investment at the time. Now that I had good technology,  I could get started. I had just one problem, I didn't take very good pictures. In my teenage mind, I was sure that the technology would solve my problem.  What would have solved my problem was learning how to compose a good photo, something that can be done with any camera, not just an expensive one.  In fact the best photographers can use any camera to take a good picture.

Businesses frequently make the same mistake when adopting technology, they assume that the best technology will create the best outcome. The reality, however, is that a good processes create good outcomes, technology just improves the process. So what can you do to improve the processes before you implement the technology?
  1. Document your processes. (Flow charts and swim lanes work well.)
  2. Review that process. (A lot of problems may become obvious by looking at spaghetti on the charts from step 1.)
  3. Review the process with the people who do the process, they will have insights that you don't.
  4. Create a list of specific change to implement. 
  5. Measure the the improvements. 
  6. Return to step one.

So where does technology fit in, somewhere between step 4 and 5. Before you implement technology  make sure you do some cost justifications. Saving  $500 per month may not justify $100,000 worth of software. 

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