Always be prepared: Strategizing for the technological transformation in a down economy
Is now the best time to implement new technology to digitally transform your company? Good lord, no. With constraints on cash flow due to the global economy’s challenges, the timing for investing in capital equipment is not the best. However, it’s a great time to develop our understanding of new technologies and learn how they can improve our businesses. There are two benefits to researching potential improvements to operations or the office. The first is the adjacent knowledge acquired by going through this process. The second is creating the information, analyses, and reports that facilitate execution when the time is right. It is typical for a small business to have one or two people to lead the technology charge. Distributing the workload across the enterprise will generate long term benefits.
The first step in the journey to digitally and technologically transforming your company is creating the problem statement. This defines the boundaries and scope of the project. Creating this statement may require time. Data is the key to creating an accurate problem statement. If gathering data is the problem, defining the relevant business questions will drive what data will be collected. A common mistake in the industry is collecting too much data at the beginning of a digital transformation. The root cause of this problem is the lack of business questions that drive the data collection. Once the problem statement has been defined, the goals are created. Creating Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (SMART) goals are vital at this stage of the process. These goals will be used later in the process and are reinforced by the data generated for the problem statement. In the context of this project, a report or summary of findings will be the most relevant deliverable.
A trade study is a valuable tool to connect the goals with the decision-making process. A trade study is a simple matrix with the options listed in the first column, and the different metrics in the first row. Scoring each option and metric with factual information is essential. This tool removes emotion from decision-making, reinforces the goals, and clarifies the communication.
Develop a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle for the new technology. Once the widget has been implemented, is it working? Does the prototype implementation meet expectations? Define how to track the success of this implementation. Are you receiving the data you expected? Has productivity increased as expected?
Why is this process necessary? While this process has created a report, the ability to execute when the conditions are right has dramatically increased. This process also creates buy-in from operators of this new technology and develops new tools that remove emotion and opinions from the process. These tools can be used every day. Starting small mitigates new-technology-phobia and risks. This process also enables the broader workforce to add value to the business. Once the economy picks up, hang on to your hats. It will be a fast acceleration.
Why is delegation important
Trade study example