Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Technology advancement and the productivity paradox – 5: the selection, implementation and phase-out cycle 2

Posted in business and convergent technologies, HR and personnel by Timothy Platt on June 18, 2012

This is my fifth installment in a series on the trade-offs of technology advancement and innovation (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, postings 168-171 for Parts 1-4.) I have been working my way through the basic, benchmarked stages of identifying, preliminarily vetting and selecting, and initially in-house testing a new productivity technology innovation that is under consideration for general roll-out and standardized implementation. My focus in this has been on more major possible changes that hold potential for bringing in significant new sources or forms of value – or just significant costs if the wrong innovations are brought in and implemented, or if even the potentially right ones are but in the wrong ways. And that brings me to the area of focus for this series installment where I will look into two approaches for test implementing a new productivity innovation at a functionally significant test scale, as a step towards full implementation.

I assume here that prior reviews have indicated likely overall positive value for the proposed implementation, and that there is solid reason to expect meaningfully positive return on investment from it. So the goals of this step are to:

• Identify the precise issues and details needed to effectively integrate this innovation into your specific business with its ongoing processes and systems in place, and with your staff and their training needs.
• Real-world test out the expected sources of value from the application of this innovation, to validate how effectively it in fact achieves expected goals.
• Identify perhaps unexpected ways in which this innovation might offer value.
• Identify costs sources, or areas where other accommodating changes might be needed if you are to capture the potential value from this implementation.
• Test out and in effect practice-run a larger implementation so that you know where any likely friction or value points will arise and so you can move forward as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible when you conduct a full roll-out.

To take that a bit out of the abstract, in Part 4: the selection, implementation and phase-out cycle 1 I proposed an innovation that would make it possible to complete and generate a crucial quarterly report, identified as an XYZ report some significant number of business days faster. And I argue here that doing so would make it possible to expedite processes and decisions and make the business more agile and competitive as a result. But here, let’s say that while this productivity innovation does work for the report itself at least for clearing one crucial delay-creating hurdle that it is designed to address, its implementation shows how one of the functional teams that is supposed to provide crucial content to these reports is chronically slow in doing its part of that work. That detail was never spotted before, at least as being particularly significant when other delay sources made their speed of work fulfillment a moot point. So picking up on the first and last two bullet points above, the test implementation stage I write of here can help identify where further change might be needed in order to be able to capture the potential value inherent in a proposed company-wide implementation.

And this brings me specifically to the two implementation approaches that I noted above to be the topic of this posting.

• Develop, implement, test out and refine the implementation of a new-to-the-organization productivity implementation in stages.
• And prototype test with limited roll-outs, and conducting them specifically where opportunity for potential new value would be expected to be high.

The overall goal here is that you transition from test project implementations to overall operational implementations where projects are by their very nature more ad hoc and one-off for functional goals and work done, and operations are standardized and systematic in their implementation, and due diligence and performance tracking.

I identified the processes outlined in Part 4 of this series as a cycle in its title and I repeated that here and for a reason. Everything I am writing about in this series involves cyclical processes. The “selection, implementation and phase-out” cycle should more properly be viewed as “the selection, implementation, and phase-out of now-old and replacement with now-new and next” cycle. Ongoing operational processes, and the overall strategic vision that supports them should include an ongoing system for:

• Identifying emerging inefficiencies and new opportunities for maintaining and expanding the competitive edge.
• Identifying new sources of competitive value in the form of new and novel productivity innovations, that hold potential for bringing in new value to address those needs and opportunities.
• Testing them out, and in phases as appropriate and with context adjustments where needed and cost-effective so as to capture potential value. In my example above that meant clearing out bottlenecks, that a new innovation revealed in assembling essential business intelligence that would go into key strategic reports.
• Due diligence and performance tracking and across all processes and systems to identify both areas of loss and of opportunity.
• And a continuing search for new opportunity to bring in new sources of value that can help maintain a competitive edge going into a next turn of these cycles.
• When this is done correctly, a virtuous cycle of systems-wide analysis, due diligence review, search for new value sources, implementation and next step analysis and review is created that for its ongoing success can become self-perpetuating.

I am going to finish this series, at least for now, with this posting though I am sure to come back to the general issues I have been addressing here in future postings and series. Meanwhile, you can find related postings at HR and Personnel and also at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time.

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