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"The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand."  Vince Lombardi

THE CHALLENGES

Numerous challenges plague the business world and no organization is immune to them.  They must be conquered if you are to prosper in today's very competitive environment.  They are not always obvious, but you should never underestimate the damage they can do to your business.  Always remember that a small crack can bring the world's largest dam to its knees.  Some pose an enterprise-wide threat; others focus on attacking a specific process or functional department.  We will give you a few real-world scenarios that illustrate some (perhaps you will recognize your business through one of them).  Be forewarned that these examples cover only a few of the foes and many more hide in the shadows.  First, let’s examine the telltale signs.

Typical Effects :

  • Work is being redone multiple times
  • Errors plague you
  • Deadlines are missed
  • Things get lost
  • Costs & overhead escalate
  • Delays are rampant
  • Misunderstandings abound
  • Control seems unattainable
  • And worse of all, clients eventually lose trust in your business  and  go elsewhere

TYPICAL SCENARIOS :

Information Overload

CEO: “We have so much information that we don't know what to do with it anymore!”

It is true that we constantly advocate the significance of information in the success of an organization.  On the other hand, you must keep in mind that the value you derive from this information will be widely determined by:

  1. Making wise choices: which information to pursue, which information to keep, and which information to discard.
  2. The quality of the systems that will manage this information and allow you to find, organize and analyze it.

Ignorance and Resistance to Change

CEO: “We invested a small fortune in this new computer system!  Why doesn’t it seem to be working properly and why are people complaining that they don’t like it?”

The computer has become the primary work tool for many.  Businesses are spending lots of money equipping themselves with the latest computers and software, but they are spending comparatively very little to educate their personnel on how to use them effectively.  The irony is that when people don't know how to do something, things tend to go wrong (which may explain why the new system isn’t working well).  People also tend to shy away from things they don't understand (which may explain the lack of interest and the complaints about the new system).  Moral of the story: divide your technology budgets equitably between equipment, support, systems organization, and training.

Lack of Integration

CEO: “I often have the impression that each department and even each individual have their own way of doing things.  Everyone is using a different solution or system although many of their challenges are similar in nature!  Why is this lack of integration not being addressed?  It feels like the old saying: the right-hand doesn’t know what the left one is doing.”

Such a lack of coordination and collaboration is sometimes a symptom of the absence of enterprise-wide standards and rules.  The choice and deployment of standardized solutions and business rules can play an important role towards the integration of processes.

Overdoing It: Computers as toys

CEO: “Since we invested in these computers, productivity doesn't seem to have improved.  We were doing as much, if not more, without them!  What is going on?”

I Very often this is a symptom of staff overdoing the work because it is either so easy or so much fun.  For example, we are continuously amazed at seeing people wasting huge amounts of time making internal documents prettier than they need to be.  The same applies to some decision-makers who choose to perform a multitude of complex statistical analysis when a few basic analysis would have given them 90% of the information in less than 10% of the time.  Let’s face it: people are seduced by the power of the computer and they tend to go overboard (especially perfectionists!).  The moral of the story: don't do something just because you can!

When Security is an Illusion

CEO: “I thought our information was well protected, but I guess I was wrong.  I’ve just been told that the fire we suffered last week has destroyed all of our computerized data!  How is this possible?”

It is frightening to see the lack of protective systems in most organizations when it comes to Information Technology.  It is even more frightening to see how the leaders of these same organizations have been lulled into a false sense of security.  Many think their data and systems are safe when in fact they are only protected from a few of the potential risks.  Danger comes in many forms: environmental disasters such as fires, malicious activity, user-error, system corruption, etc.  Most of these risks can be avoided, or at least minimized (although some levels of protection may not be cost-effective for your organization). The first step is to develop a good understanding of your major risk factors and your current level of protection.  This will quickly disillusion you and allow you to make wise decisions in order to safeguard your organization’s information.

Input Errors

CEO: “Why do my sales reports show numbers that I know are wrong?  I thought computers never made mistakes!”

True, computers rarely do make calculation mistakes; the real source of the problem is often the person who enters the information into the system in the first place.  Some mistakes are simple typos, but others have much darker origins.  For example, the order-entry clerk who decides to create new duplicate inventory records whenever he can’t find the one he is looking for.  At first glance, this seems like a creative solution from a resourceful person, but it isn’t.  Once an order has been placed against that duplicate item, it’s usually very difficult or costly to remove it from the system.  The consequences are serious: duplicate records, grossly incorrect sales statistics, useless purchasing forecasts, uncontrollable inventory, etc.  It also becomes a vicious cycle: as fictive records are created to solve crises it becomes harder and harder to find specific items.  This forces more crisis situations to emerge which in turn pressures the clerks to create additional fake item records, … and the cycle perpetuates until the situation gets out of hand.

Bad Processes

CEO: “Why does it take forever to fulfill a customer order in this company?  Orders seem to spend most of their time waiting to be processed!”

This is often the symptom of an ineffective process.  When a company is small, creative people can normally compensate for problems with the process.  However, as the business grows, these corrections become increasingly difficult until a point of gridlock is reached.

 

And the list goes on and on....

"Accept the challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory"  General Patton