Business Process Improvement: More than Just Technology; Consultant Offers Tips on Maximizing Technology Investments

    TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Too many organizations believe that
 technology cures all business problems, according to consultants at Tribridge,
 provider of business consulting services for middle market companies.
     "If there are problems with your business processes and all you do is
 automate the processes, you'll simply have the same problems -- but even
 faster," says Brian Deming, Tribridge president and COO.  "Technology is a
 tool, not a cure-all.  If you view technology as a panacea for business
 problems, you will inevitably spend a lot of time and money, only to be
 disappointed in the results."
     Although managers may conceptually understand the importance of business
 process review, they are often reluctant to make the effort they think it
 takes to accomplish it.  Following are the steps Tribridge recommends:
 
     * Simplification:  The first step is to focus on business process
       simplification and improvement, including front office, back office and
       operations functions.  Far from being a cumbersome process, this should
       be a practical approach to eliminate redundancies and identify better
       ways to accomplish mission-critical functions.  The challenge is to look
       beyond the "we've always done it this way" mentality to determine how
       the business should work.  Once this has been accomplished, the business
       can use the new processes to drive requirements in selecting new
       technology.
 
     * Automation and integration:  Using the new functional business
       requirements identified during the simplification process, the business
       is now ready to select the appropriate technology.  Deming suggests
       looking first for existing software that can be implemented and
       configured without costly customization.  Then, once the company enters
       the implementation phase, they can identify which business processes
       need to be tweaked to achieve the optimal results within the new
       software.
 
     Deming notes that it's far more common for businesses to select software
 without adequate consideration of the underlying business issues.  In these
 cases, Tribridge often recommends a concurrent process that is a two-way
 assessment.  It provides smaller-scale business process redesign,
 accommodating the capabilities of the technology that has already been
 selected.  "The two efforts actually meet in the middle to yield more
 effective business processes, within the confines of the technology, but
 without costly customization," he says.
     He offers the example of a client that requested major business process
 redesign of its order processing flow, from quoting through shipment, after
 they had already begun to implement new technology.  The keys to success were
 that the client had selected their software well and that both the process and
 technology implementation teams worked closely together.  By creating linkages
 and establishing an atmosphere of give and take, the two teams found the
 optimal fits on both sides.  That's where the real skill lies, notes Deming.
 "Installing technology may be a science," he says.  "But implementing
 technology so that it can support good business processes is an art."
     If a company rushes to select its software without considering its
 business processes, all too often they will spend time and money without
 realizing the benefits they had hoped for.  "Even though they may blame the
 complexity of the software for the ultimate failure, the truth is often as
 simple as the fact that they didn't consider changes to the business before
 changing the technology," concludes Deming.
     Tribridge (www.tribridge.com), provides business consulting services,
 ranging from assessment through implementation, to middle market companies.
 Services are focused in the areas of customer solutions, operations,
 technology and healthcare.  Based in Tampa, Fla., Tribridge also has offices
 in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Atlanta.
 
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SOURCE Tribridge

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